Interviewing: so, have you used our product?

Why answering “no” is almost a certain no-hire.

An interview loop is a full day of your time. And the company you’re interviewing at is burning at least six hours of their people’s time not developing features, or answering phones, or building a production infrastructure, to talk to you. Now, I know that not everyone on the loop reads the resume before they go in, but unless I’m tagged in at the last minute (which happens too often, certainly) I’ve spent 10-15m just reading your resume, and after we talk I’ll spend another 10-20m writing up interview feedback. Multiply that by six… You can spend 15 minutes to prepare.

If you’re considering taking a job with a company, you should know why. It can be as simple as “I need a job”. I’m fine with that. But why at the company you’re interviewing at, and not another? Or why do you think you’d be content working on this particular widget, and not another? If you have no interest in where you work, and I really care about what I work on and who I work with, well… it’s going to be hard to bridge that.

If you haven’t used the product… fire up the web site and look around. Download a demo version of the product and play with it. It says a lot of good things about you to say “yes!” and have thoughts about what features you’d add, or an issue you encountered:
- you’re curious and interested
- you’ve given the product some thought
- you can talk about the product
- there’s a reason you’re applying for this particular job

And better still if you can talk about the product compared to others, for instance.

By contrast, the immediate doubt that comes in if you say “no” is that you’ll find the work not to your liking and no one’ll be happy. Or you’ll toil away and leave when you find something you are interested in.

Not having taken a couple minutes to prepare before the loop is akin to showing up in sweats, or being late, in that they all give the people who are taking time out of their day the impression that at best you don’t really care about the interviews, and probably don’t care much about whether you get the job or not. It’s operating at an enormous disadvantage compared to other candidates, too — they’re almost certainly going in prepared and interested.