Developer Tea

Interviewer's Wishes with Jason Vasquez (Part 2)

Episode Summary

Today's episode is all about the environments we work in and the skills that contribute beyond the code. Jason Vasquez, CTO at Developertown, joins me as a guest. Today's episode is sponsored by Fuse! Build native iOS and Android apps with less code and better collaboration. Head over to to learn more today!

Episode Notes

Today's episode is all about the environments we work in and the skills that contribute beyond the code. Jason Vasquez, CTO at Developertown, joins me as a guest.

Today's episode is sponsored by Fuse! Build native iOS and Android apps with less code and better collaboration. Head over to to learn more today!

New Promo Code: “dt” will give you listeners 70% off for 12 months. 70%!!! The code must be redeemed by December 31st 2017.

Episode Transcription

and experiment, go try lots of different things, especially try things that are outside of your comfort zone. Just don't go pick like another C-based language or whatever, just like, sure. Yeah, different API or whatever. But go try something fundamentally different, you know, toy around with it. You're going to learn something that we'll probably apply in some way back to what you do today today. That was the voice of Jason Veska's. Jason works as a CTO at Developer Town. This is the second part of our interview. If you missed out on the first part, make sure you go back and listen to it. But in this interview, we're going to be talking about, while interviewing, the skills that Jason is looking for from InterviewEase. We talk about a lot of other things as well, but I'm not going to ruin it for you. I hope you'll listen through this episode. You're listening to DeveloperT, my name is Jonathan Cutrell, and my goal is to help driven developers connect to their career purpose and do better work so they can have a positive influence on the people around them. And that may sound big and lofty, but the reality is the work that you do has an impact. Whether you intentionally design that impact or not, what you do with your time, what you do with your energy, what you do with your career, it matters. It matters to the people that you have influence over. And if only that person is you, if that's the only person that you have immediate influence over, then that matters. So this show is dedicated to helping you become a better developer, become a more driven developer to connect to that underlying reality of how much your work actually matters. Not in a vain sense, not in the sense that you're self-important or narcissistic, but rather that you take your time seriously, that you care about how you're spending your time, how you're spending your days, you intentionally engage the work that you do. And that's really the people who listen to this show. I want for you to be those people, the people who care about the work that you do. And if you don't care about the work that you do, then this show probably isn't going to be very good for you. You're not going to enjoy it very much. But if you do care about the work you do, then I welcome you to listen to the show, to subscribe, and to continue engaging this stuff each and every day. Thank you so much for listening. Let's get out of the way and get into this interview with Jason Vasquez. So I'd love to kind of back out one more time here and look at the bigger picture with you about your career. And you know, we talked about dark moments, we talked about, you know, these learning environments and staying up to date a little bit, but more importantly, kind of being able to switch between things and not getting to focus hyper focused on one tool. But I'd love to ask you, you know what two areas that I want to talk to you about one is hiring and the other one is going to be, you know, bright spots moments where you feel like you had an epiphany a moment of clarity or inspiration. But first let's talk about hiring. Let's say I'm a developer and I want to work at developer town. When I walk into my interview, what are some of the qualities? What is something that you're looking for that really if I were to walk in and accomplish that thing that you would be ecstatic to have heard it and that that would kind of put me at the top of the pile. Sure. Well, there's one of the things I, you know, if I go back many years, the way I would think about hiring was really more relational and social and kind of like kind of basic interview techniques, just asking a lot of questions, hopefully hitting the right things. We ran some problems with that and primarily one of the issues we hit was just people that could talk it. If I could actually do the work we expected they could do and I know that's not unusual. So that really drove us towards again, not unusual technique where we do coding interviews, you know, we've and to date at developer town we've done those in person where we've had people come in. So we really split up our interview process in a two parts, one of which is much more social. Let's get to know each other. Talk about some things that excite you and that sort of thing and then we get on to some some pure technical things and see how you do one of the things we're starting to worry about a little bit there as we think further about diversity and some other hiring factors is some bias that creeps in. You can start to see some behaviors from people that we start to suspect maybe really excellent, but due to social pressures or other things that are unfortunate in society don't perform as well, especially in that that more technical portion where we can a marker and a really hard problem and we do our best to make these really collaborative like work through them together type things, but there's certainly a barrier. So we're starting to think a little bit about how we may address that via that through, you know, maybe an online version of the same thing where it's not, yeah, that same social one on one type pressure or not. So that's kind of one aspect to it was you we do need to make sure that people can connect actually writes code that's a that's an important factor. But then the other side of it is I want to see people that seem to care about what they do and it's. It seems readily obvious to me at least when I asked somebody was was something that you're proud of that you've done you'll see it I mean some people like well you know I worked on this big team I did this thing and there are other people just see them they light up because it's almost like they're happy you asked them because they got to talk about this little thing that you can tell really meant something to them and that they worked really hard on and got done and those things really stand out for me because those are things that I mentioned previously they're the things that look like the way I think. I just get kind of excited about stuff and I want to go after it and I want to solve it so those are standout things for me that's really good you know I just want to firm something here hiring is really hard it's really hard. It's probably almost harder than getting hired I hate to say that because I know a lot of people are in a difficult spot right now trying to find jobs but it's emotionally taxing it's in a lot of ways quite honestly physically taxing because it takes a lot more active engagement then you know just doing your normal job. It's definitely mentally taxing and it can really lead you into a lot of situations where you're kind of rolling the dice you don't really know I mean you're spending you know an hour or at most let's say a day with a person that you're trying to decide is this person going to make this company better are we going to make this person's life better is this going to fit and and you know that has major importance. That has major implications for that person most importantly but it also has major implications for the company in that person the people that that person is going to interact with on a daily basis including the clients you know this is a huge huge thing and so you know there are managers who are listening to this right now and you're struggling with hiring and you're wondering what the secret is and the truth is there's not a secret to hiring. It is a hard process because it's something that can't be optimized no matter how much we try no matter how you know how good of a process we have it is a extremely difficult thing because it's 110% human and so I do you know it's difficult to balance you know how can I make sure that this person has the technical skills how can I be certain that they're going to respond to pressure in the right way. You know and asking the right questions is not always going to uncover what you need so you know I have a lot of respect for people who are good at hiring because it really isn't is not easy at all. Yeah I haven't met anybody who's really fantastic at it or the best one is no that there's there's still a lot of holes so yeah no it's definitely a hard process but I think really you know if you can at least get a baseline understanding of what are they capable of doing but more importantly can they get excited about things and I'd say the one thing that this points me the most that I hear is when I say well can you show me some of your work especially for somebody junior you know the sort of thing show me some things that you've worked on and they say well I just really haven't you know I don't have any work experience yet or I haven't had a job yet I haven't had that opportunity and I'm like oh my gosh there's so much opportunity and if you don't love it enough to have been you know playing around with it and put something in yeah or whatever you know it doesn't have to be great I actually don't care that much of it's not that perfect right shows that you care enough to learn you know and oh so let me run an idea by you then because it's something that I've told Developer To try in the past you know there's a lot of ways to kind of get past that that experience gap you know obviously the most important thing is to actually get work experience if you can get that then that that speaks for years of you know self just you saying you have experience if you have a project to show but what I've what I've told developers especially this is kind of more specific to web developers but other developers can can apply the same concept to is to go and do a kind of like one of those like a 30 day challenge essentially where you build a single complete application once a day every you know every day for 30 days and this is you know something that's extremely focused very small piece you know you're not building in a whole rails application that you know manages a bunch of users and does all of the reporting and all that stuff that's not what you're doing here you're focusing on a small and very interesting problem and then you're doing that a bunch of times and I said actually to do five projects over the course of 30 days so that gives you six ish days per project so you can actually get something recently or I'm sorry somewhat substantial for you to these projects and you have a variety to show so in 30 days you go from having absolutely nothing to having these these five projects to show yeah now it's it's fantastic I say the other thing for us we're a consulting company and you have to be really hard pressed to not find someone around you who might need a small website or anything and you know what you could probably charge them a little bit and to me that you learn so much doing that you know one interviewing somebody you know them interviewing their clients understand what it is they need putting together a little plan delivering you know building the code getting it deployed get it you know for a developer especially some a junior you know understanding like simple things like DNS and networks and IPs and all of that stuff kind of prove a little baseline knowledge around that stuff you know that's the first time you hear these terms isn't after you've been hired right right exactly we're going to take a quick break and talk about today's sponsor and then we'll get back into the interview with Jason today's episode is sponsored by fuse perhaps you were thinking about doing a side projects and more explicitly you're thinking about doing a mobile application for your side projects well I encourage you to consider fuse fuse is rebuilding the way we think about creating mobile applications you can build native iOS and Android apps with less code and better collaboration fuse is an all in one solution that works both on Mac and on windows that allows you to see the work as you're doing it up until now mobile development environments haven't really changed very much in about 10 years but fuse is aiming to change that if you've ever used something called unity for game development and fuse is kind of like that for mobile application development fuse recently went from beta to their official 1.0 launch and they also launched their fuse studio premium editor in workspace this comes along with their professional plan of course this is a paid plan it includes a fuse built in UI kit and you can do things like add premium charting to your applications use stickers on your live camera feed there's tons of interesting things you can do with the fuse professional plan most people don't even need this paid plan but if you do choose to go with it then fuse is providing you 70% off if you use the code dt for Developer Teathis is going to get you 70% off this is for the first 12 months the codes must be redeemed by December 31st of this year so if you want to take advantage of that deal then go ahead and head over to fuse slash plans that's fuse slash plans don't forget that code dt and remember you can get started for free you can try this product entirely free today head over to fuse slash plans to get started thanks again to fuse for sponsoring today's episode of slash plans that's a paid plan for the first time in the world this year I think a lot of Developer They fear those coding interviews and they prepare for those and I would say is very difficult to do with code for a project then if you were to go through a bunch of code prep for a whiteboard interview yeah absolutely and to be honest I mean are are the harder end of our coding interview stuff is is very little to do with did you know how do you think through it you know because we want these to be conversational talk to talk to me what's what's stopping you right now and you know we'll work through it and go so because we want to treat it like we actually treat these kinds of hard problems and reality so yeah and in the truth is you know you get stuck with that kind of problem in the real in a real life scenario and you've got Google and a bunch of other people around you to help you and so when you go into these is recognized that hey you know what this is more about communication than it is about solving the problem right is more about understanding how hey these people are trying to understand if I'm going to be able to do this if I would be successful at solving something together with them. So if you claim up or if you're totally lost in your head that's not a good sign right that that's not going to give me a good amount of confidence that this is going to go well right but if you find yourself totally lost take a step back like you might anyway yeah say hey I'm a little lost let me go over you know like step back and write an outline of what you know so far in the corner of the board you go like yeah yeah yeah.then write the question mark next to the one that's your stumped on right yeah yeah like and just seeing that kind of thought process is really powerful so another thing that I've mentioned to developers who ask about you know white is a very good question to that kind of thing is to provide more than one answer so you know almost every problem that you ever face has contextual answers there could be one way of doing it that serves a particular need or they could be another way and so for you to show that you have a grasp on the subject such that you can talk about the implications not just the solution that's the kind of thinking that produces great work but more perhaps just as important that's the kind of thinking that stays on budget that that that helps you know a project manager understands the differences between two possible pathways and if I can hear that in your work or in your thinking then I have a high degree of confidence that when I ask you to solve something really complex that you're not going to get stuck in a black hole where you're not producing value but you're going to actually find a good pathway to the right solution.yeah and then be able to justify your solution exactly as well you know versus alternatives and again especially the consulting world where you know 99% of the time we have fantastic relationships with our customers you know we really enjoy that but everyone's small you're going to get challenged on something you know like way so why are we going down this path you know and not go because I found it on Stack Overflow and copy and paste it or whatever you know I was like no you value me with these four options and you know these these other guys you know they didn't line up so here's where we landed and even if it's not the right thing it's okay because you know what you've got these other three other back pocket things we can go down right and get to as well so I think that's really really important very important so I we've gone a little bit over our time I really appreciate your time tonight Jason and and thank you for talking with me about the cool stuff that developer town is doing and about your experiences developer and and where you've come from and I have a couple of questions that I love to ask you that I like to ask every guest who comes on the show okay the first question is if you and I were to go out and have a cup of tea and talk for the very first time what would you hope that I would ask you about I think I would hope that you asked me about my family I think that's an important thing just for me personally and then around our company as well we really focus on that side of things so yeah it is very important it's and it's something that everybody has a different perspective on yeah how you take care of your family and and you're you know that the so again a very tired phrase but the work life balance and all of those discussions are so important and they shouldn't be left out of these kinds of talks about hiring for example that's that's a good that's a good interview question what is your what do you views on on your family right right one of the things that was hard for me prior to the developer town I worked in a startup and I we had just had a baby at the time and I was this slightly older guy with a lot of younger guys who are there you know 20 hours a day and I work a lot of hours I would I would do it from home but my my visible face time was limited and and for a while I felt really awkward when I walked out of the office at like five you know but that was important to me to get home absolutely go now you know visually you build enough cred and you know I think it works out but but that that can be a little jarring right at first and it's really difficult yeah I just we just recently had our first he's he's going on four months now so we're still in that super thank you super early phase and you know it's it is it is tough to explain that and because even if you were to explain it with normal you know this is why I'm going home and it's such an emotionally connected thing that to explain it to somebody who has an experience that is is like trying to talk about a movie you know to someone who hasn't seen it at some point you're you're you're talking about a fact rather than a feeling and that's a really hard thing to communicate and so you have to be able to to kind of separate that and it is you know it's it's easier when you have other people in the company who have similar experiences to you but there are people that I really truly love working with and if I didn't have a child at home we would go out and hang out outside of work all the time and how that I have a child at home where it's very few times that we're going to hang out outside of work and I don't feel bad about that I don't feel like I'm missing anything and that's okay you know it's okay yeah no it just helps to get to have everybody know each other at that level right and then I come to a common understanding and yeah and go from there yeah the the respect and common appreciation for each other's individual circumstances and yeah it's it's so important for the health of a company and you know I've come to realize as a leader that any person's internal monologue is really shaping their perspective of their work and the people around them and so when you have internal monologues like wow I can't believe that guys leave in at five right and if that's if that's something that you expect is happening in the company that's a really toxic and potentially divisive thing to happen in a company those those emotions are going to divide you know even at a practical level you're not going to want to be in the same room with people that you don't like right correct this resentment for each other and you know this is why for example you mentioned earlier and this is something that's going to resound with me from this interview the access you you want to have a personality and a presence that is accessible to the people that you work with and that's so important if you weren't accessible people would have that internal monologue that seeds that little bit of dissent and you know it's discord really yeah and to be clear I don't think I always do a great job at that but I really try well anybody who thinks they're doing a great job probably is not doing a great job as probably fair yeah well this has been great so one one more question that I love to ask Jason and this is a tough one but if you only had 30 seconds to give advice to every developer of all backgrounds what would you tell them? I think we touched on some of it and that's that it's less about what you know right now and it's more about your excitement about figuring out what's next so that that that desire to stay up and extra 30 minutes to learn that next little corner of her length or figure out that next circuit design or whatever it may be those are the things that really I think shape developers and and make them really great is that ability to get excited about those things and really grow their grow themselves. Excellent advice Jason thank you so much for coming on to Developer Tea. Happy to do it it's been a great time. And where can people find you if they want to follow you online if they want to learn more about developer town and what you all do where should they go? Well please you know visit our website on Twitter Jason P. Vasquez although I can't say I'm too active of a publisher at least I probably lurk lurker bit more and feel free to reach out to maybe an email or or any other channel. Awesome thank you so much Jason. Alright thank you. Thank you so much for listening to today's episode of Developer Tea. I have a pretty big announcement to let you all know about if you are preparing for an interview especially if the interview is coming up in the next 10 days or so. I want you to go and download this free guide that I've created for you. And really this is for anyone it's not just about interviewing but certainly is most applicable to those of you who are getting ready to go into an interview. It's totally free it's over a hundred pages worth of content. This is the best advice that I can distill for you as you head into this interview. As you go through this life transition and finding your purpose all of this stuff is covered in this book. Head over to You can get the interview week prep guide for free once again boot Thank you again to Fuse for sponsoring today's episode of Developer Tea. Fuse is an all in one environment for Mac or PC. It's going to allow you to create and view what you are creating your mobile application. It's a brand new way of doing mobile application development that improves, vastly improves on the ecosystem for mobile developers. Thank you again to Fuse for sponsoring head over to slash plans. Thank you so much for listening to today's episode. If you consider yourself a driven developer. If you believe that your work is more important than just a transaction with your employer that you actually can have an impact on the people who use the things you built. You actually care about your co-workers. You care about your clients or you care about doing good work for the company that you work for. Then I want you to subscribe to the show. You are the people that I am targeting with the show and if you aren't one of those people, then that's okay. You don't have to stick around. The show is probably not going to be well suited for you. But I definitely want to connect with those of you who have that underlying sense of purpose in the work that you do. Thank you so much for listening and until next time, enjoy your tea.