Writing and reading resumes is a mix of art, science and discovering context. Since every candidate approaches writing a resume with varying levels of experience, assistance, good advice, time and practice–we need more context to focus the initial discussion on where the s/he shines most.
The first interview starts with mutual introductions and talking about who we are and how we learned about each other. Once the conversation is flowing smoothly, we transition to letting you interview me, asking any questions you have about the company, the team, technology or myself–the interview is bidirectional. As a bonus, I get a better understanding of you, your interests, concerns and what context you already know. Usually we find a lot of points in common.
My Best Question
I probably have your resume, and ideally a cover letter of introduction, example projects, a website or other context about you. I will tell you what I’ve seen about you beforehand, so you when to gloss over or give more details. I may have missed some good stuff, which I hope you will point out (and I will ask if you don’t!).
Give Me Context
I want to learn more about your passions, trajectory, skills, hopes and concerns, regardless of role, and level of experience. Given we just met, my best question asks for more context
Is everything on your resume fair game?
What you say, and how you say it are both indicative of your standard for including points on your experience. The best answer is
You may be saddened to learn many candidates give some hedged version of
No, not really
- I have not used C++ in many years and I’m very rusty
- I only did one small project in Ruby and do not know it well
- We were provided the framework and just filled in one algorithm
- I don’t remember that project well
- I don’t want to do that any more
On resumes with large lists of languages, frameworks and technologies, I am seeking to understand your threshold for including each on your resume–I’m interested in learning about what is left.
Where Do You Shine?
I want to learn about your highlights and strengths, finding overlap between the needs of our team and your trajectory. After you have told me what is not fair game on your resume, I know to discuss other areas of your experience. Please go back and gut your resume down to an awesome introduction.
The next time you have an interview, everything on your resume will be relevant and interesting. The ask yourself:
Is everything on my resume fair game?