This is a note to self. A reminder for when I next look for a job. Over the past few weeks I’ve searched for a new senior engineer plus type role. Strangely, it’s the first time in my career that I’ve interviewed for a senior position. Turns out it’s hard. Here’s a few things I learned.

Update your CV

While updating your CV is not fun, a good CV will get you an interview. It’s worth investing some time on it. I found The Tech Resume an invaluable resource.

Figure out what you want

Some people know what they want. Not me. Figuring out which direction I want to go in has been hard, really hard. But, it’s worth the effort. I find interviewing emotionally and physically draining. Being clear on the type of role you are after can help you focus on the most relevant opportunities and say no to the rest. This can help conserve energy.

How do you know what you want? It’s very personal. Here’s a few questions you can ask yourself.

  • Why are you moving? What is missing from your current job that you want in the next?
  • Do you want a particular title? Senior engineer, lead engineer? Why?
  • Do you want to be an individual contributor, or would you consider moving towards management?
  • What is the minimum salary you would accept? Is it a factor at all?
  • Is there some specific tech you want to work with? Or some tech you want to avoid?
  • What tech is in demand? What is not?
  • Do you want to work remotely? Or would you prefer to work in an office? Or hybrid?
  • What do you enjoy doing? What do you dislike going?
  • Do you have any career goals?
  • Is there an industry you would like to work in?
  • What kind of culture are you looking for in your next role?

Once you have figured out what you want, write it down. Maybe it’s just me, but the process of writing things down helps me retain and process the information.

Be up front with recruiters about what you want

I found I received a lot of messages and emails from recruiters. Only a small percentage of these were relevant. Many recruiters want to set up a call and chat through your experience. This is fine, but it’s not practical to speak with everyone who contacts you. Draw up a list of minimum requirements for the job you’re after. If anyone contacts you with a role that sounds interesting, ask if it meets your minimum requirements. Only speak to them if they are met. It will save a lot of time and energy.

Code tests

I hate code tests. They bring out the worst imposter syndrome in me. “Spend about two hours on this code test” isn’t unusual. Four hours later I’m still obsessing over it. Try and time box the solution.


Interviews take practice. They often involve the kind of knowledge that isn’t used day to day. Don’t line up your dream job if you’re out of practice. Get a few practice interviews in first. Read up on typical interview questions. Review the interview questions on Glassdoor. Get familiar with your CV.

Also accept that some interview styles won’t work for you. Interviewing techniques can vary significantly from company to company. Some will go well, others will be terrible. Try not to beat yourself up. There’s always another job.

Make notes

I like to write things down, otherwise things get forgotten. There’s no way I would have been able to manage my job search without extensive notes. Who have I spoke to? About which jobs? When? What did they tell me?

I like to write a set of notes for each job based on a template. This typically includes:

  • What the company do, their products, etc.
  • The job spec.
  • Pros and cons.
  • Questions I want to ask. A few examples include:
    • What is the culture like?
    • Do you support remote working?
    • What will I be doing day to day?
    • What teams exist? What do they do?
    • What products do you build?
    • What are you short term plans? Long term plans?

My notes are sprinkled with emoticons to draw my attention to anything I think is great or concerning.

Don’t fool yourself

Try not to get too excited about a job without looking at the facts. Create a list of pros and cons. Be brutally honest. Are you qualified for it? How closely does it match your perfect job? How does it compare with other jobs?

Be patient

You don’t have to take the first job you’re offered. I get the fear that I won’t be offered another job. Of course if you feel it’s a great opportunity, go for it. If you have doubts, consider turning it down and continuing the search.

Reverse interview

This is something I only heard about recently. I did it by accident without realising it was a thing. Once you receive an offer, confirm the package matches your expectations. If it does, think about any unanswered questions you have, anything you want more clarity on and ask for another chat. The goal here is to make sure this is the right job for you.