Insider Tips to Help You Succeed During a Phone Screen at Rhiza

The first week of October is Rhiza’s Recruitment Week. As you may have read, Rhiza is a fast-growing software company and we’re looking to continue that growth by hiring some great new people to our team. Rather than releasing balloons and a box of doves, we are going to be releasing valuable information.

Chances are, if you are selected for a phone interview for one of our open positions the person you will be talking to is me. I’ve interviewed many, many people since I took over this task from our CTO, Mike. I’m going to lay out a few of the things that make me more likely to move an applicant to the next phase of interviewing. I hope much of this can be generalized to other companies and is useful to most job hopefuls reading this.

First, the fundamental purpose of a phone screen is for me to gauge a baseline of technical expertise you have and evaluate whether you would be a good fit for the company. “Good fit” is kind of a vague term, but usually what I’m looking for is someone who listens, is good at explaining things, and asks good questions. All of the technical knowledge in the world is useless to us unless the person possessing that knowledge can communicate well.

Here are things that are in the gold star column for applicants:

• I love it when people do their research and have at least a vague idea of what Rhiza does. I will always take the time to talk about what exactly we do, but it goes best when people have some understanding and a basis from which to ask questions.
• The ability to explain something complicated in less than three minutes.
• The applicant is talking to me on a clear phone connection and in a quiet space where I can hear them clearly. I have a hard time following people if I can’t hear them well. Hint: I have never had a good interview with someone who talked to me while they were driving.
• Have proof that you know what you’re doing. I love being able to play with demos and look at portfolios and they give me a much more complete view of an applicant. If you’re a new graduate and don’t have much experience a few good demos will get you very far.

Here are some more general tips:

• If it’s on your resume I will assume that you will be able to answer questions about it. I’ll ask you to describe how you executed projects and you should be able to tell me what you did and how you did it. If you list a piece of software or a computer language you should know more than a little about it. Also, if you list a language I will ask you about that, possibly in that language. If you can’t answer basic questions in Spanish do not put it on your resume.
• I’m a software professional just like you, so don’t get bogged down in the details such as what an integer is vs. a floating point type. I’d rather hear about how you used them to build something.

I hope this will help you in your quest to join the Rhiza team. Here’s a listing of our open positions and where you can apply online: If you apply and make the cut, then I’ll be talking to you soon on the phone!