I think the proverbial cat is pretty much out of the bag now, so I might as well announce it: as of the first of November I won't be working for BitDefender. It has been a fun three years, but I feel that it is time to go into a new direction. This will probably mean that the security content on the blog will be fewer, but I'm still looking forward to writing posts which convey information in a clear way to help people (in all domains related to IT). Below are a few observations about the companies / interview processes I've experienced.
- Be prepared to answer the question: why are you leaving? In almost every case they will ask that.
- When they are asking about the salary you want, first make it very clear what kind of sum are you talking about (yearly/monthly, net versus gross, in what currency, etc). If they find the sum too high and you really want to work at the given company, you might try to reach an agreement whereby you will work a time period (3-6 months) for lower salary and if they are happy with the quality of your work, then you get the bigger salary.
- Big (huge) companies usually have a predetermined chart for calculating the salary, and it seems that technical know-how isn't that important to them. This might be a good thing if you've just graduated, but a bad thing if you've been working for some time.
- Some companies just plain out ignore you, or even worse: they promise to call you back, but don't. This is just a fact of life.
- When you are discussing with technical people, don't forget to ask them your technical questions (like: what kind of development methodology are you using? do you use source control? do you do testing? what kind of testing?). These might seem natural things that everyone should have, but not everybody does.
- Regarding the previous point: most of the companies I've talked too at least say that they are agile, but there are still exceptions. The most horrendous one was a company doing work on a COBOL system for a large Austrian bank/insurance firm. When I've asked them what kind of testing they do, their answer was something along the lines of (and I'm paraphrasing here): none, we just go ahead and modify the system live on the mainframe.
- Advice for the companies: if you want to hire a technical person, involve a technical person! I understand that I have to talk with HR too, but please, please give me a living technical person to talk too. Paper tests are not that good either, or at least they should have a followup discussion to clarify any misunderstandings (because many times you find yourself wondering: is this a trick question, or did the tester make an error that s/he didn't catch?). If you don't like my price, at least have the courtesy of telling me so right then or later.
- As a candidate you can often get some background information (and you should do this) about the companies using public documents. In the case of Romanian firms a good source would be the Ministry of Finance.