How to nail your cloud computing job interview

With thousands of people looking for a first cloud computing job or attempting to upgrade their career, here are some ways to make a great impression.

How to nail your cloud computing job interview

I’m often taken aback by the unpolished way that people interview for tech jobs. This is not about lacking skills; this is about candidates not providing an easy way for the interviewing company to understand how skilled they are, what they should be doing, and what they are worth.

As someone who’s done hundreds of these interviews, on both sides of the table, here is some advice.

First, don’t get over your skis. In the world of job interviewing, this means don’t bring up a topic you’re not equipped to talk about.

Frequently, this relates to subject matter that you may have been introduced to by reading an article or watching a video but have no idea how to go deep on that topic. For example, I’m often told by a candidate that they have “extensive Kubernetes experience,” only to have them fall apart when I ask deeper questions. Don’t be afraid to define your limitations up front. If you claim something that is not true or is just an exaggeration, that will put a question mark after everything on your CV.

Second, know what type of job you want going in. Even if you’re interviewing for a specific position, be prepared to answer the question, “What is your perfect job?” Often, you may interview for one position but end up getting another since they may have an open position that’s a better fit and pays more.

Have this position defined in your mind, even if it’s not within the current job description. For example, you could say, “I always wanted to work with cloud-based AI systems,” when interviewing for a cloudops gig. Well, AIops is a thing, and that may work in your favor in terms of a better job and more pay.

It also shows that you’re looking at other areas of cloud computing, and that leads to the conclusion that you’re a continuous learner. For many employers, this is far more valuable than you just showing up with a bunch of certifications. Technology changes. Your ability to change along with it is a key job skill that most cloud computing pros need. 

Finally, don’t ask about salary, but be prepared to answer. If someone focuses on money when I interview them, that’s more often a cringe moment. We’re not there yet, and I don’t understand how valuable or not valuable they are. You’ll get a meaningless non-answer, such as “between $50,000 and $150,000.” Or you will have painted yourself into a corner as to what they will likely offer.

An interview is a negotiation from the start about what you’ll be doing in the job, the position in the company, and what they will pay you. Wait until they ask about your salary requirements, and have a well-thought-out answer. Be prepared to give a number, also considering benefits, bonuses, and equity (if applicable).

Also, have data in your back pocket to show how you got this number, such as other job postings with salary ranges, average salary data, or even websites that rate companies as employers and may have specific salary information.

During my CTO days, when looking for gigs after my last company was sold, I always checked out the SEC filings that listed executive salaries. I looked at the companies I was interviewing with (if they were public companies) and at other similar-size companies in the same space. So, I could say, “I’m asking for the high industry average—and I’m only asking for half of what the CEO is making.”

For those of you looking for that first cloud job or wanting to change cloud jobs, I wish you the best of luck.

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