How to: Ace the interview process

Tips to get the job you deserve

Recently, I’ve been guiding a friend through their job search, and we uncovered some universal strategies that can boost anyone’s interview performance. These aren’t industry secrets, but rather simple, powerful tactics everyone should know about.

Table Of Contents:

The process can be mapped out into two critical steps:

  1. Landing Interviews
  2. Acing Interviews

In both steps, you’re not just a participant; you’re in competition. The goal is to emerge as the standout candidate, the top 1% who not only secures the offer but also gains the leverage to shape their career trajectory.

Step 1: Landing Interviews

This is the step where most people fail in my opinion, not from a lack of skills or ambition, but from a misunderstanding of the approach needed. Treating your job search as an actual job is essential. Dedicate a portion of each day to scouting opportunities, researching companies, and engaging with professionals within your target industries, including PMs, developers, and C-level executives. The aim here is to be proactive and personalized, not just active.

The most common mistake is to just send a bunch of CVs (or even worse: Tapping on Easy Apply on Linkedin 💩) for a bunch of companies. These approaches, lacking a custom intro message or cover letter, are unlikely to capture a recruiter’s attention. Recruiters read through hundreds of CVs daily. A generic application is almost guaranteed to fail.

You must commit to the extra effort that distinguishes you from the masses.

Picking the industries you like

Narrow your search to 3-5 industries that not only interest you but also align with your passions. Working on an industry that you like will make your job more pleasing, and your work will feel more fulfilling.

Customizing your CV

There are a lots of articles out there on how your CV should look, my primary suggestions are concise:

  1. It should be a 1 pager.
  2. The first two lines are crucial; they’re what most recruiters read first. Ensure these lines are impactful and reflective of your strongest qualifications.

Writing a Cover Letter

If you want to stand out from the hundreds of applications that a company receives, you need to do the work that most people are not willing to do. Avoid the generic.

A compelling cover letter demands research and a deep understanding of the company. It’s your chance to articulate why you are the ideal candidate for their specific needs and challenges.

Research is your foundation. It involves a deep dive into the company’s products, market position, challenges, and future obstacles. Use their product, identify potential improvements or bugs, praise their successes, and consider how they stack up against competitors. The objective is to demonstrate not only familiarity with their operations but also an insightful perspective on how they could evolve.

Finding the Sweet Spot: Your cover letter should aim for the intersection between your unique strengths and the company’s current requirements. Highlight how your specific skills, experiences, and insights align with their goals and challenges.


As a software engineer deeply committed to environmental sustainability, 
I was thrilled to discover your innovative approach to renewable energy software solutions. 
While exploring your product, I noticed [specific feature or aspect] that resonates with 
the industry's need for [specific improvement or innovation]. 
With my background in developing scalable, high-performance software and a personal 
dedication to eco-friendly initiatives, I see a unique opportunity to contribute to your 
team's mission to [specific company goal]. My recent project, [brief description], directly 
addresses some of the challenges I believe your team is facing, such as [specific problem], 
and I am eager to bring this experience to your organization.

The goal is to make it impossible for the hiring team to overlook your application, compelling them to move you to the next interview stage.

Securing Responses

You’ve invested time in research, crafted your cover letter, and sent your resume. Yet, you don’t hear back from the company. It’s time to distinguish yourself further by going deeper.

Engage Directly with Insiders

Initiate conversations with current or former developers within your target company. Ask about the work culture and their experiences. Establishing these virtual relationships can serve as an informal endorsement of your fit for the company.

Take Initiative with Decision-Makers

Coldly reach out to C-level executives or Engineering Managers. Craft a message that concisely communicates why you are the indispensable candidate they’re seeking. Offer to schedule a discussion, demonstrating your readiness to delve deep into a conversation about the company’s objectives, challenges, and how you envision contributing to solutions. Your preparedness to engage in such detailed dialogue will set you apart.

Recognizing When to Pivot

Still no responses?

iIt’s crucial to recognize when to refocus your energy on other opportunities. The absence of a response doesn’t necessarily reflect your qualifications but might indicate timing or internal priorities.

If you do get the first interview call scheduled, you can move on to the next step 🙌

Step 2: Acing Interviews

Once you start the interview process, you will be assess in each step in 1 of 4 categories by each of your interviewers:

  1. Strong No -> You did not pass the interview, and were not close to passing.
  2. No -> You did not pass the interview, but you were close.
  3. Yes -> You passed the interview, and could be considered for the next step.
  4. Strong Yes -> You will be moved to the next step.

You need to aim for Strong Yes in all the steps. Otherwise, another candidate will get the job.

In most companies, the interview steps are pretty similar:

Recruiter / Intro

This initial encounter is your opportunity to make a strong first impression. Focus on:

  • Introducing Yourself: Provide a concise overview of your professional background, emphasizing achievements relevant to the position.
  • Discussing Your Experience: Highlight experiences that showcase your skills, adaptability, and contributions to previous teams.
  • Inquiring About the Product: Show genuine interest and curiosity about the company’s products or services.
  • Learning About the Team: Ask questions to understand the team structure, dynamics, and the role’s impact.


Often combined with the intro meeting, this segment evaluates your compatibility with the company culture.

Prepare for questions like:

  • Describe a situation where you received critical feedback. How did you respond?
  • Share experiences of working in a team that were particularly positive or challenging.
  • What are your significant strengths and weaknesses?

Key Tips:

  • Maintain a non-defensive posture. Understand that the goal is to gauge how you integrate feedback and work with others.
  • Be candid about past challenges, showcasing growth and a collaborative spirit.
  • Ask about the team’s culture.


This could be one or many interviews, with one or many engineers from the company. It could also be a take-home project + a real-time defense. It could be a live coding exercise. It could be a combination of all.

Some tips:

  • Research the Process: Investigate the specific technical challenges the company uses. Platforms like Glassdoor or discussions with current employees can provide insights.
  • Practice with Peers: Engage in mock interviews to sharpen your problem-solving and coding skills under pressure.
  • Exceed Expectations in Take-Homes: If a project is assigned, apply best practices meticulously—write clean, well-documented code, include unit tests, and consider multiple solutions where applicable.

Remember that you need to be the Strong Yes candidate. Achieving that level requires effort.

C-Level / Manager talk

A conversation with senior management assesses your alignment with the company’s vision and values.


  • Be genuine and articulate about your career aspirations and how they align with the company’s direction.
  • Demonstrate enthusiasm for the company’s mission and how you see yourself contributing.


The offer stage is the final one, I won’t go into detail in this post about salary / compensation package. If you get to this stage, the company wants you to work there, you finally have the winning hand. Congratulations 👏

Step 3: Picking the best fit for you

Once you reach the offer stage in a couple of companies that you like, you should assess which one is the best for you. At this point, you know which things are most important for you, and with a simple list of pros/cons you should be able to decide which company you like the most.

Evaluating Beyond the Salary

While compensation is a crucial factor, it’s essential to consider the broader picture, including growth opportunities, company culture, and the nature of the work itself.

Considerations for Your Decision:

  • Learning and Development: Gauge which company offers the most robust opportunities for professional growth. Identify where you can acquire new skills, tackle challenging projects, and progress in your career trajectory.
  • Product Alignment: Consider your connection to the product or service the company offers. Working on a product you use or have a genuine interest in can significantly enhance job satisfaction and motivation.
  • Work-Life Balance: Reflect on the work culture of each organization and how it aligns with your personal life and well-being. Prioritize companies that value balance, offering flexible working conditions, adequate vacation time, and mental health support.
  • Company Culture and Values: Assess how well each company’s values resonate with your own. A cultural fit is crucial for long-term happiness and engagement at work.
  • Career Path and Vision: Consider which company aligns more closely with your long-term career goals. Where do you see the most potential to evolve into the roles you aspire to?

To systematically compare your options, create a pros and cons list for each offer, including factors like salary, benefits, learning opportunities, company culture, and product interest. Assign weights to these factors based on their importance to you, and score each offer accordingly.

After thorough analysis and reflection, give consideration to your instincts. Often, your gut feeling can guide you towards the choice that feels right on a deeper level.

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How to: Ace the interview process |
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