You’ll find endless blogs on how to ace a job interview, but the really useful info is how to interview with a specific company. Knowing what criteria best fits into the workplace culture can make all the difference in your meeting with Portland Webworks.
Why would we tell you what we’re looking for in advance? Doesn’t that make it way too easy? Actually, no, we believe that if you can come in the door with the basics, we can more quickly determine if there’s potential to move forward.
Our company is small, specialized, and inclusive, which means it’s a coveted place to work. We think of it as a family. Monster sums up exactly with we love about working at a small business: “You’ll get to have a real impact, gain experience across lots of silos, get to exercise passion and perseverance every day, get to share in the profits, and get to work with a group of people who feel like family.”
While we’re very selective about the right fit, it’s not all about experience. We look for soft skills first, because familiarity with the specific tools we use can be easily learned. All of this in mind, the following guidelines are intended to help us both to determine if we are a good match.
1. Start on an even playing field
Anyone who googles for five minutes can find a wide range of suggestions for interviewing success. To save your time, we’d like to clarify which of the many tips matter the most to us:
- Do your research by reading about us in this post, and on our site.
- Compile examples of your work from past jobs or volunteer positions that show you have experience and success with the skills listed in the job description.
- Refine your Zoom skills by setting up a tidy backdrop and good light source, mute or remove any unwelcome sounds, and look directly into the center of your screen when you speak.
- Be on time, or better, early, and if you can’t make it, let us know ahead of time.
- Reflect the three Cs during the interview: cool, calm, and confident.
- Use the STAR method to answer questions about your experience with a clear Situation, Task, Action, and Result.
- Sell your skills to us with a succinct elevator pitch, as you would to a client.
- Ask questions that highlight your preparedness, values, process, and abilities.
- Send the interviewer a follow up note after the interview.
- Not interested? “Send a thank you follow-up email anyways. Thank them for their time and consideration, explain why the position isn’t a good match for your skills and experience and let them know you’d like to stay in touch if they have suitable openings. Never burn bridges on the job market.”
2. Get to know us
As noted in the tips above, one of the best things you can do is research the company before the interview. We know your time is as precious as ours, so let us help you drill down to the most useful information:
Who we are
- We’re a software development company based in Portland, Maine, not Portland, Oregon (as many assume!).
- We’re about 50 percent software developers and 50 percent everything else, quality assurance techs (+/- 3), designers (+/- 4), project managers (+/- 3), business development (+/- 3), and management (7), see our Team page.
- We’re currently all distributed at our homes, but normally about 40 percent remote, with the majority working at our Old Port office in downtown Portland.
- We’ve been around more than two decades (founded in 1999), see our History page.
- We take pride in being a small company with a great culture that consistently makes the list of Best Places to Work in Maine.
- Our primary focus is on public sector clients in state government departments and agencies, via our sub brand GovWebworks.
- Our work includes developing better ways for citizens to access state government information and services, as well as keeping pets and animals safe through registration and welfare tracking, and making vaccines available to people in need.
- We put clients first, strive for excellence, and value wisdom, curiosity, and a sense of fun.
- We work hard so we can play hard, when work is done to satisfaction, we trust employees to flex appropriately.
- 100% paid health and dental for employees
- Health Reimbursement Account
- Flexible Spending and Dependent Care accounts
- Company matching retirement plan
- Annual profit sharing
- Flexible scheduling
- Up to 25 days paid vacation
- Free parking (in the Old Port)
- Friday happy hour
3. Plan for our format
Just as an agenda optimizes a meeting, knowing the game plan for an interview helps make the most of your time with us. Our screening interviews generally adhere to the following 30-minute schedule:
Company intro (10 min)
- Interviewer introduces self and company
- Candidate is invited to ask any questions
- Interviewer describes relevant projects for the role
- Candidate is invited to ask any questions
Experience (15 min)
- Interviewer asks questions to qualify baseline candidate eligibility
- Candidate replies to questions to best of ability
- Interviewer asks specific questions to drill down into candidate background and level of expertise
- Candidate replies to best of ability
Wrap up (5 min)
- Interviewer outlines next steps and expected timeline for the hiring process
- Candidate is invited to ask any final questions
4. Prep for the experience questions
We don’t look for a pass/fail on any questions we ask. We want to see how a candidate operates so we can imagine how they might work in our environment. Someone lacking direct experience with our tools, but a strong interest in the work might score well, while a candidate with some technical skills but no soft skills might not. Best bet, as they say, is to be yourself.
We especially look for the following:
- We appreciate a background in Scrum or Kanban, but most important is the experience and willingness to work in a highly collaborative setting and coordinate work with the team.
- We appreciate the ability to communicate effectively and professionally with clients and team members, and value a client-focused mentality.
- We like to see an understanding of the public sector software development business domain.
- Truthfulness and dependability are paramount, so inconsistencies and possible stretching of truth will not work in your favor.
- We value a history of successful deliveries and hearing about your techniques for delivering on time, and on budget.
- We want to know developers can identify functionality from requirements in order to design artifacts and define suitable features and tasks.
- The ability to make reasonable project decisions is as important to us as is the ability to break work down into pieces.
- We seek familiarity with technologies and hands-on experience with the variety of roles in enterprise level projects, such as an understanding of how to build pipelines, not just knowing someone else on the team will do it.
- Code samples are a great way of demonstrating your capability, so come prepared to share examples of your work.
- We like designers who can tackle complex business and user challenges to deliver elegant, modern, effective experiences.
- We seek those with an understanding of human-computer interactions and have perspective on what makes software highly usable and beautiful.
- We want to see an understanding of how to take scattered, verbal inputs from clients and turn them into strong visual designs.
- Candidates stand out for us if they have a passion for designing accessible solutions and helping improve people’s lives.
- The best way to demonstrate capability is an online portfolio showcasing prior work.
- We want project managers who can partner with our clients to ensure we solve their business problems, not just get projects done.
- We look for the ability to effectively manage scope, budget, timelines, and the finesse to say “no” without ruining the client relationship.
- We seek those with experience in custom software development for professional services or agency type work environments.
- Candidates stand out when they display exceptional communication skills and personality using remote tools.
- We like people who are empathetic, understanding, and come from diverse backgrounds to bring perspectives from all angles.
- We want quality assurance analysts who know how to collaborate with the development and design teams to ensure business requirements are accurately implemented.
- We value candidates who have used cross browser testing tools and understand responsive design.
- We seek out candidates who can analyze business and technical requirements and develop and run test cases based on those requirements.
- We look for testers who have experience with accessibility/508 compliance, and WCAG web application best practices.
5. Tell us if you’re interested, or not
If you like us, tell us in a follow up note. No need to play hard to get. We especially appreciate specific details about what you liked and how you see yourself fitting in with us. Did you feel your values aligned with ours? We want to know. Or tell us if the job is just not for you. Don’t be shy!
Find lots more about us on our blog and websites:
- Developer Spotlight at GovWebworks: Software developer Rachel Charow shares some scenes from her working life
- Core Values For Employee Happiness: Lessons learned from the Best Places to Work award on workplace satisfaction during a pandemic
- Work From Home Life Hacks: Remote life strategies from our distributed team members
- Goal Setting Techniques That Actually Work: How to create high quality goals to transform you and your organization
- A Day in the Life of a Remote Contractor: Or, what I’m really doing to stay productive at the home office
- How to Simplify Drupal Builds with Yarn and Webpack: Some useful tools to automate the management of multiple packages
- Top 10 Most Effective UX Trends for 2021: Usability tips to make online life less stressful and easier to navigate