design IV: telltale signs of disapproval

(Note a subtype of design interview is the SDI.) When interviewer asks, as described in https://www.susanjfowler.com/blog/2016/10/7/the-architecture-interview:

  • why you choose this approach (this design, this direction…)
  • what are the pros and cons of this approach
  • what alternatives there might be

It’s 80% a sign of disapproval.

If they are only curious, they would phrase it differently.

Remember interviewer has a rather fixed idea how this design should go. If you propose something unfamiliar to her, she can’t “lead” the interview with confidence. She risks losing control. Therefore, she has no choice but steer you back to her familiar territory.

Most of them won’t want to admit that your idea is plausible but different from her idea.

Advertisements

IV batting average#biased guesstimate; no obsession

Disclaimer… These numbers are seriously unscientific and heavily biased and subjective. They are also biased due to the sample — I probably excluded many cases.

Out of a hypothetical 720 positions applied,

across java #no HFT across c++ non-HFT HFT
No. shortlisted based on CV 1/3 like 240 1/3 – 1/4 like 180 same as c++[1] like 180
No. passing initial screening 2/3 like 160 2/3 i.e. 120 1/3 like 60
No. technical win [3] 1/2 like 80 1/2 i.e. 60 20%[2] i.e. 12
No. offers 1/2

[1] HFT firms are very open and welcomes everyone to apply

[2] I feel if I keep trying I will pass an HFT tech interview! but if I don’t fit in, it’s not easy to find another HFT job.

[3] proved my competence (at least to myself) i.e. can do the job, but they may not like some perceived “weaknesses”, technical or communications.

CV-competition: Sg 10x tougher than U.S.

Sg is much harder, so … I better focus my CV effort on the Sg/HK/China market.

OK U.S. job market is not easy, but statistically, my CV had a reasonable hit rate (like 20% at least) because

  • contract employers don’t worry about my job hopper image
  • contract employers have quick decision making
  • some full time hiring managers are rather quick
  • age…
  • Finally, the number of jobs is so much more than Sg

 

tech screening passed(but still rejected): pat on your own back

Always remember that before you invested months of serious effort, you couldn’t pass the tech screening.

One of my fundamental principles — focus on tech screening and don’t worry about offer. Once I pass technical screening, it becomes a beauty contest or personality match. If interviewers don’t like a competent candidate for age, face, language, lackOfHumor, communication style (often related to culture, nationality and up-brining) …, then I will grin and say never mind. Sooner or later someone will like my personality.

They may say candidate is cocky, opinionated … There’s no right or wrong here. Another interviewer may not feel that way.

The average programmer doesn’t have an off-putting personality, definitely not in an interview, so for every 3 interviewers who don’t like him, there will be some interviewer out there who likes him.

 

coding IV^QnA: relative importance

Let’s focus on technical screening but put aside SDI questions, which are sometimes like QnA .

  • In terms of “weighting” assigned by employer — coding 50/50 QnA on average, though only on-site coding is authentic. If an interviewer uses on-site coding, then it would often have higher weighting than the QnA portion.
  • interviewers’ time — coding 30/70 QnA. Interviewer needs to spend more time conducting QnA interview than coding interview.
  • candidate’s time — roughly coding 45/55 QnA. On average coding takes a candidate less time but more effort.
  • candidate’s effort — coding 70/30 QnA on average. QnA requires effort in advance but little effort during the interview.
    • I feel coding tests often require substantial concentration/effort but many people are not willing. One hour of coding test effort == 4 hours of project effort
    • timed coding test is like exam… full concentration.
  • rejection percentage — coding 70/30 QnA on average. I feel rejection rate is higher in coding than in QnA, partly due to insufficient effort by many candidates. West Coast and HFT has higher rejection rate on coding tests.
  • In terms of long term benefits on personal financial security and family wellbeing — about the same value.

Conclusion — as a job candidate, we had better embrace coding interviews, for our own long-term security.

%%offers 2017

All confirmed offers.

$c2c co where primary tech other tech domain nlg duration
100 pimco Burak NPB[1] c++11 🙂 🙂 🙂 java, possibly Hadoop 🙂 FI accrual math 🙂 3+
100 Pimco Zoltan NYC java framework 🙂 🙂 flexible
100+ bgc Alexi NYC java minimal cpp FX.. trading to perm 😦 😦 😦
below 100 😦 😦 Ravi Chgo 😦 😦 Qz 😦 😦 😦 java FI trading again flexible
perm Nitin Shanghai java perm
perm Tradeweb JC VC++ FI ECN perm
85 baml NYC VC++ repo 😦 12M?

[1] A bit hard to get next job in NY, but helps me get a next job in West Coast. However, in terms of buying a home, I just don’t know.

IV^CV is real battle

(Adapted from a Mar 2017 letter to Lisa Wang… )Let me share my observations and reflections on this tough job hunt. Another stock-taking. Focus here is non-finance jobs in the U.S.

For months I used a slightly tweaked CV for non-banking (“main street”) tech positions, but it’s not working — Out of the 30 to 40 non-finance positions I applied, precious few (15%??) recruiters were interested. Suppose 5 recruiters showed interest, I guess not all of them submitted my resume. Suppose 4 did submit. So far, no hiring manager was impressed with my non-finance CV. (Response from financial firms are better but not my focus today.)

So different from my prime time (from 2010 to 2012) when my finance-oriented resume was selling like a hot cake. I would estimate more than 50% of the recruiters were impressed and many hiring managers showed interest.

Of course, I’m comparing my “main street” resume against my Wall-St resume. Not a fair comparison but it does highlight these key issues:

Recruiter engagement is the #1 issue and hiring manager engagement is #2 issue. Interview competence is a distant #3 and not a key issue. Many people disagree — “you need no more than one successful interview.” They believe a 50-80% interview success rate is the silver bullet needed. Well, how long must you wait before you fire your silver bullet?

I feel much better if my interview pass rate is only 20% (or 10%), but I get 5 times more interviews! I learned from experience that my interview performance improvement is limited without sufficient interviews. So it’s far more effective and strategic to work on getting more interviews. I don’t want to be one of those guys who need 6 months to find a job. I see them starved of oxygen. Steady flow of interviews keep me motivated and focused, too.

In conclusion the key issue is crafting a compelling resume to engage recruiters and hiring managers. (A more pressing issue on main-street front than on the Wall-st front.)

Therefore, I count each interview scheduled as a success. In contrast, an offer is less significant an achievement. Analogies:
* as a singer, each TV appearance is a success; Winning a singing contest is less significant.
* as a growing basketballer, each time I get to play on court is a success; winning a game is less significant.

I have always told my peers that 90% of the job candidate competition is on the resume, and 10% on interviews. (Now I feel 95%/5%) Many candidates can pass interviews if given the chance. The chance is given to winning resumes. I say this to my friends because I learned from experience to invest much more effort improving the resume, until it can impress a large percentage of recruiters and hiring managers.

For the “main street” positions, I hope to engage 33% of the recruiters and 10% of the hiring managers. With that, if I were to try 30 opportunities, I could expect to get 3 interviews!