These two failures really hurt. I was so excited when I was contacted by Microsoft and Facebook to work for them and then it all blew up. They did not want me. It really hurt, because those were two companies I would be honored to work for. In this video I tell you how I failed to get into Microsoft and Facebook.
Who wouldn’t like to work for one of the top technology companies out there? Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Apple, Netflix, and a few others. Yes, in a way these are companies that are not different than others, but then if you are really into information technology you know what I am talking about. It would be so cool to work for companies that have changed the way we live and work today.
I often jokingly say that Microsoft has been paying my bills since 1999 when I landed my first job in I.T. but not with Microsoft I may add. In the almost 23 years since then I always kept an eye open for a position at Microsoft, but it never worked out. About 12 years into my career in information technology I received a call from a Microsoft recruiter. I had built up a solid reputation as a virtualization specialist back then. I had jumped onto the opportunity to do virtualization with VMware’s virtualization platform very early on. That was in 2005. Most companies did not even look closely at virtualization until several years later. I had a competitive advantage in that field and VMware frequently reached out asking if I want to work for them. But I never liked the role as a senior support engineer in their Denver call center they had in mind for me. I was in a position to be picky.
Then a Microsoft recruiter called and asked about my interest in a virtualization-related position at Microsoft. I had some Microsoft Hyper-V-related knowledge, but VMware was my bread and butter and I was very open about that. The recruiter said that this would not be a problem at all. We discussed the position and agreed to start the interview process. I would have to interview with several of the Microsoft consultants and premier support team members.
The first interview went great, but I had a growing feeling that this would not work out in my favor and sure enough the second interview was very technical. While I was able to answer generic virtualization-related questions, the Hyper-V-specific ones went way beyond of what I knew. I failed. There were no additional interviews after that. — I was disappointed as you can imagine. —
A few years later I was contacted by a recruiter from Facebook for a team lead position in one of the internal IT teams. Everything sounded great and I was super interested to move forward. Based on what I was told by the recruiter and how my skills and knowledge aligned, — I should be a good fit for that specific position. The recruiter checked with the hiring manager and scheduled another call with me. During this call, the recruiter asked me some technical questions she was given by the team to pre-qualify candidates. I failed enough of these technical questions to no longer move forward. For Facebook this was very black and white – you fail part of the technical portion of the pre-qualification process and you’re out. I was disappointed as you can imagine. — So, two out of two I failed. Who knows how my career would have changed if any of these two opportunities would have come through. — I analyzed each situation and I learned two important things from this. — A) You cannot necessarily blame the recruiter or the hiring manager or team or even myself. There are just too many components in here and everyone involved is to be blamed. The recruiter can only be as detailed or good as what the hiring manager provides as information. Also keep in mind that the recruiter is not a technical person, she may not even understand your questions. I was to blame as well as I failed to really understand the job description and the technical requirements.
For Facebook I was focusing on the team lead role aka people management, but did not realize that they were expecting me to be a very hands-on, technical system administrator. I was blinded by the opportunity and instead should have stayed away from moving forward because in the end I was well aware of my knowledge gap. I was betting the ranch on my people management and leadership skills, while these skills apparently were really just secondary to Facebook. They focused on the technical skill to be the primary and that is where I had some gaps. Therefore, this did not work out.
The Microsoft situation was similar but different. The recruiter contacted me because of my VMware knowledge and the related experience. The hiring manager or team however focused on the Hyper-V related knowledge as the primary criteria. I would think that this was clearly a communication issue within Microsoft and I simply became the victim of that situation. But that is too easy as well. I should have recognized better what the position was about and I did not. I was blinded by the excitement of potentially working for Microsoft and in the end this turned into a major disappointment and waste of time for me and the interview partners at Microsoft. — Coming back to the opportunity at Facebook. At that time I was already in the middle of the transition from being an individual contributor and to become a manager or leader within information technology. My knowledge and skillset was expanding on the management side while my hands-on skillset and knowledge was less current, maybe even shrinking. — So, why am I sharing this with you?! — A) I want to make sure that you know while failure is going to happen, you do not need to let it define you. B) Don’t let the excitement of potentially working for a cool company, higher pay, and excellent benefits blind you. — Since that time I made it a habit to ask more questions about things that matter to me. This helps to keep the excitement under control and potentially saves you a lot of time and frustration. It may also lead to better opportunities down the road. I gained more clarity what skills I wanted to focus on and it lead me to successfully move into I.T. management. — So, have you been in similar situations? I would love to hear from you in the comments down below.