Books for software engineers and managers

Ask Me This Instead

Ask Me This  Instead

Flipping the Interview to Land Your Dream  Job

by Kendra Haberkorn, Former VP of People at Guild Education and  Craftsy

Engineering Manager,
Tech Lead,
Star Engineer,
Product Manager,
Tech Recruiter

How strongly do I recommend Ask Me This  Instead?
8 / 10

Review of Ask Me This Instead

Ask Me This Instead is a pragmatic guide to flipping the interview, so that you can evaluate a company and team, just as they evaluate you. Under 100 pages, you can easily read this book in a day or two.

What’s most valuable about this book? The question database. With this book you get access to +100 questions to ask the company interviewers, which are reframings of standard questions you find on the internet. As a hiring manager, these are definitely the questions I wish candidates would ask instead.

For instance, you might ask a question like, “Can you tell me about the company culture?” and receive an equally generic and canned response from the company interviewer. But this question database will tell you exactly how to rephrase the question to elicit a more useful and insightful answer. This list alone is worth the purchase price.

When considering a career move, start with a list of your personal  priorities

Establishing your personal priorities provides the pillars for evaluating opportunities from the application through offer stages. Without knowing your priorities, I think you’re susceptible to the emotions of the situation. Changing a job is stressful and you need a compass to help you navigate the situation rationally.

With this book, you’ll get a worksheet that takes about 5 minutes to complete to identify and explain those priorities.

Write a resume that tells your career story, not just a list of your  capabilities

Your resume isn’t just a list of accomplishments or capabilities. There’s a story behind everyone’s career that makes them unique and interesting.

What is the story of your career? Who are the characters and what is the arc?

Do not write your resume in isolation; find a trusted person to review and evaluate  it

We think of resume reviewers as people checking for typos and spelling mistakes. But a good resume review covers much more, analyzing the story you’re telling and identifying areas of confusion.

The recruiter wants you to  succeed

When you speak with a recruiter, you might imagine an adversarial relationship. But most recruiters want you to succeed because that means they fill the role faster. Align with your recruiter or HR contact early on and foster a collaborative relationship.

Take advantage of every opportunity to interview with your future  manager

Most people leave their job because of their manager, so why not take more time to interview your future manager and understand the relationship better? If necessary, ask for extra time with them.

In software engineering, you probably won’t stay at the company long enough to be promoted. That will require  leaving.

During the interview process, promotion paths will probably be discussed but most engineers will be gone before that promotion path becomes a reality.

The questions you have prepared probably need reframing to elicit more emotional, authentic, and specific  responses

As a candidate, you’re expected to having questions for the company. But eliciting insightful answers is actually quite hard and requires skill.

The Ask Me This Instead question database is a tremendous asset for reshaping your questions to escape generic and canned answers.

Ask Me This Instead