Tiago’s story and advice for getting hired in Vancouver as a Software Engineer.

Tiago: All right. I’m Tiago. I’m 35 years old right now, and I’ve been working as a data engineer for the past, I don’t know, four years. Before that, I was a back-end engineer.

Tiago: Actually, I wasn’t actually looking. This recruiter, George, he gave me a call one day and he just thought that there was this position that could be a good fit for me. Of course, I did have a profile there, but I wasn’t actually looking. Actually, it was really out of date. It was weird… I remember that my CV wasn’t up to date, with a lot of old information.

Tiago: But anyway, George gave me a call. He said that he had this position that could be a good fit for me. And then he asked me to do all the steps. Do the coding, the coding verification, where you go to the HackerRank platform, and you’ll do… A field test is there, the English verification. If I remember, I had to score above 70% of the HackerRank tests, and to have an English… I think it’s advanced level, something like that. I remember I did that. I put all the information up to date there, and that was the first day.

Tiago: Once this was done, I applied for the position that he told me about. Then it started. I had, I don’t know, four interview with the company. I remember that the first one was really more like a cultural fit to see if… I think they were more checking if my English is okay, if they can have a conversation or something like that. I remember they asking things about general logic, general knowledge about programming, SQL, and stuff like that. I think that’s it. I don’t know. I don’t remember exactly the question. I’m just answering.

Tiago: I remember also, George was really helpful. He was always updating me about the process, giving some tips on how to improve my CV. I remember that I had my CV, but it wasn’t Canadian style. I had more, let’s say, a Brazilian style of CV. So he asked me to put some bullet points saying things that I have accomplished and not just the experience. That was a really nice, a really good tip to put on the CV.

Tiago: It was something that helped a lot to know, to put my CV in evidence instead of just listing my skills and also putting the accomplishments and achievements there. I remember that the people that were doing the interview, they went to these points and asked a few questions about, “How did you do this, and did the manager… How did the team react or the manager or the client?” That was a good point to put on the CV.

Tiago: During the process, as far as moving forward to the next steps, I remember that I had this other team, a mock interview team. I remember that I had two mock interviews more related to the soft skills part, basically answering situation questions, like “Why should we hire you?” And how I could explain myself, what I did as a data engineer. And to be honest, it was a very important part of the process because I remember in the first mock interview, I did really, really bad. I asked, would I have another one before the actual interview? And the second one was a bit better. I felt more confident. It was more than enough to do well during the actual interview. That’s when I was able to answer all the questions calmly, with confidence.

Tiago: Moving to the third part, the third interview where again, the guys from VanHack was… They were really great, helping me out again with another mock interview to prepare myself. I’ve got to say, it helped me a lot. I was able, again, to feel calm and confident. We did work on the same questions and a few more. Also what they said, to look up for the company, what they do, what is their mission, things like that, which normally is not something that I used to look up before. All those things were really helpful.

Tiago: I remember after having two coding interviews, the last one, it was with the general manager and the VP. They just focused on the company, asking me, of course, I’m not a Canadian or anything, but they did ask about the business that the work… If the mission that the company has is something that I can relate to. I remember it was a lot of, again, cultural fit questions, but focusing on the company, not on the person.

Tiago: I was a bit surprised because the first two interviews were really fast and there was this three week gap. I haven’t heard any news from them for three weeks. I remember that I was emailing George every now and then, once, twice a week. Out of nowhere, George gave me a call and he said, “Look, we are moving to the third interview.” And then the third came, the fourth, and the final one. When I heard the news that I got the job, that the job was mine, I was a bit surprised, to be honest. It’s always good to have this kind of news.

Tiago: I remember that I was just there, sitting, just looking to nowhere, just thinking, “What now?” Something like this. After I realized that I actually got the job, I was really, really happy. I had a few drinks to celebrate. I remember telling my girlfriend that I got the job. She was really happy. And I remember she asked the same question. What now, what happens now? I said, “Well, I think I have to resign my current job and just see. Start working for the new company.”

Tiago: Honestly, the first three weeks was really hard for me because of the English. Me, I know English as a second language. For them, it’s just their mother language. And all their meetings were through Zoom. And in my opinion, just having a meeting over the Internet, even if it’s with Brazilians, it’s hard enough. There’s always some kind of issue, Internet issues. Sometimes the voice started to break.

Tiago: So the first week, to do the whole communication stuff was really hard, to express myself mainly, but they understand. They understand that you are not a native speaker. I just paced myself in the beginning, try to make myself clear as possible, talking slowly. And after a few weeks I was feeling more comfortable when the… I’ve got to say, I think now it’s better.

Tiago: It’s been, I don’t know, three months, almost four. I still do speak slowly. I don’t want to fast… I don’t speak fast because… I’m not just talking, I need to explain some stuff in technical terms and sometimes it’s even hard to speak those terms in Portuguese. Can you imagine in English? [crosstalk 00:11:21].

Tiago: But the guys are really nice. They’re very welcoming. They welcome you very well. They try to make you feel comfortable with the position. And like you said, these are challenging times, with this whole COVID situation. But like you said, soon I think I’ll get to meet those guys in person. Let’s see.

Tiago: Right. So, I would strongly suggest to visit LeetCode.com. It’s a site where you can practice algorithms, data structures, and stuff like that. I think it’s really good to have a strong base of all the base data structures. If you have a really strong base, and in my case for a data engineer, a good SQL understanding, I think you are covered. To have the minimum grade where you can have your CV exposed in the VanHack platform, you need to score at least 70%. It’s not easy to do that. It’s really challenging, the hacker ranking problems. If you have a good, very solid understanding of data structures and SQL, I think you’re good to go.

Speaker 2: Nice. So, your biggest recommendation is practicing your technical skills to guarantee that you’ll get a higher score on the code challenge at VanHack, which used to be HackerRank. And now you’re actually using Qualified, but it’s the same structure, same idea.

Tiago: Yeah. Lists, doubly linked lists, stack use, recursion… If you have a good understanding of that, I think you’re good to go.

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