In the thriving Canadian tech scene, landing your dream job can be tricky business — made especially hard when the talent pool you’re swimming in is so rich in skills, qualifications and drive. Making an impact during your interview really is the key to success, so I want to offer meaningful insight on what tech recruiters like myself really look for in our winning candidates.
At Xero, I interview a number of potential employees each week, and you might be surprised at what attributes myself and my colleagues are actually looking for. Gone are the days of expecting you to sit rigidly at a desk, dishing out formulaic responses and telling us what you think we want to hear. Instead, we’re looking to see how and why you’re right for the role (and equally, why and how we can support you in it). So, here are my best tips to secure that coveted offer letter
First impressions matter most
Most interviews start with a phone interview, which is a way for us to whittle down the candidate list from the get go. As we can’t read your body language over the phone, we’re really working hard to get a sense of your general energy so we can assess whether it aligns to our team values of #human, curious and equitable. Bring your genuine, quintessential personality — what makes you, you, because we’ll pick it up and we want to feel it.
Stay focused on the conversation, with no distractions around you, and have some stats or information to hand about what the company has been publicly working on, especially if it interests you or aligns with your work history. Never read off of your resume, it slows the flow of the conversation down and we know when it’s happening — but adversely, it’s fine to have prepared bullet points as a reference if you know that it will keep your thought process on track.
Be honest, even if it feels counterintuitive
In particular, during an interview we’re interested in the milestones and goals that you’ve hit, what impact it had on the company, how you contributed and what your key learnings were, so never, ever make up answers for questions like ‘what’s your biggest weakness?’ or ‘why did you leave your previous job after so little time?’.
As much as you might feel there’s a universal answer to this question, I can confirm that there really isn’t. Being honest shows that you are self-aware and can take ownership of your mistakes, and we value that as much as we do skillset, because it helps us to build a workforce of people who have that same integrity.It’s really a delicate balance between showcasing your skills and experience, while also showing who you really are, what you care about and why you are good to work with. Tell us why you want this particular job, at this particular company, and why now is the right time for it, and don’t feel afraid to lay it out on the table. This self-awareness, humility and curiosity will go a long way.
It’s question time
When a tech recruiter asks you whether you have any questions, it’s not a trap. I just want to help you to get a crystal clear picture on the role, Xero as an employer and the team you’ll be working with.
There’s no hard and fast rule to make your questions PG, either, so it’s a great way for you to show your true self in the interview (with all of your quirks and foibles) and help us understand what matters to you, or what you may be dealing with in your life.
Ask us how our parent employees generally juggle the balance between home and work life, how we remove barriers for people of color, what resources are available to staff during times of stress, or how we champion mental wellbeing and help our team members with anxiety and depression.
Ignore the Google hype
As tempting as it is, avoid the urge to Google the questions you’ll need to have answers in your back pocket for. No-one at Xero is going to ask you how you would escape a blender if you were the size of an ant, what animal you’d be in a safari cruise or make you sit through an hour of a complex puzzle just to prove you can work well under pressure.
Instead, focus on the work experiences and personal experiences you have had. We will ask behavioural questions that pull out the real behaviours you lean towards. For you to be in the interview process means that we saw something in your application that made you stand out, so we’re simply trying to confirm that instinct. Just come to the table knowing yourself, your needs, your experience and what you can offer, and we’ll see it. Best of luck in your search!
Lauren Waters is the Talent Experience Manager for the Americas at Xero.