First of all I want to state the following: this is not a rant, I have a lot to be thankful about those experiences. This post refers to my job interviews with Apple and Facebook (on site interviews). I’m not going to disclose anything about the questions or methods (that are very well documented in “Cracking the Code Interview” for instance) since the intention of this post is to think about the emotional consequences of being rejected.
The job interview with Apple
The story starts like many others, with a recruiter that contacted me via LinkedIn. I had to read several times the message since at the beginning I wasn’t sure if the recruiter made a mistake. When I was younger and studying Computer Engineering never crossed my mind that one day I would be working (legally I may add) in the USA and that I would be called by Apple. Even after I visited Cupertino the very first time (2013) and tried to be positive and dream about working at Apple (something like a long term goal or so) never though that a couple of years after I would be knocking the door for an onsite interview.
There’s no much to say about the preeliminary phone interviews. I was very nervous but I got my ticket to San Francisco in July 2015. In restrospective, maybe I overreacted since I bought clothes in Hugo Boss to look the best that I could (it was expensive, ouch!). The very day of the interview I ran approx 2 miles (3 km) around Cupertino. I took a shower and then I was ready for it. The interview: the first one with a company that I loved and my wildest dream of all time. In some parts I would say it was messy, but I felt fine, even now I don’t think I was too bad. The same day of the interview I took a plane to Miami since I had to work the next day (I pushed the things a little bit) but I enjoyed my time in San Francisco.
When I came back to Miami,FL I never though I would receive a call the same week, I mean, I though that I would receive an email in the best of the cases, but I tried to be optimistic about the overall process. The following Wednesday I received an email from HR wanting to setup a call with me. I commented about this and maybe I was too optimistic about that. Later on I received the call to learn that both of the teams for which I was being interviewed wouldn’t move forward with the process. I have that call on my memory even now. It hit me, and it hit me very hard. The overall feeling was bad, pretty bad, like a big failure in my life. At that time I was with a work VISA in Miami,FL and the things were going fine; after that, I lost focus and energy. I travelled to Mexico ta few days later to be with my family and to understand what did I do wrong (sigh!).
After a few weeks I recovered and tried to move forward with my life levaing the process in the learning experiences department. People at Apple are very nice and kind. I still remember the name of couple of guys that interviewed me. Being in San Francisco with all travel expenses paid by Apple is great to say the least, but in the aftermath I had to deal with somebody: myself. It was my own mind what called me names and laughed at me for not landing the job. The ego can be a ruthless enemy if it gets hit hard.
The first job interview with Facebook
In late October (same year) I received a message from a Facebook recruiter. At that time I was planning to get back to Mexico since I wasn’t very happy with my job in Miami. I saw that like a great opportunity to redeem myself, to demonstrate myself that I could get a job in a big company.
I had the phone interviews and finally I got the email requesting me the date to visit the Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park. I was really excited, truly excited… but afraid. I prepared myself for the job interview, at least I already had the experience with Apple, I thought.
When I arrived to Palo Alto, I didn’t feel quite well emotionally. I felt kind of lost. I didn’t even bother to explore or to know another place from California. I tried to focus on the upcoming interview but I wasn’t so sure about myself.
The day for the interview arrived… I made mistakes, I’m aware of that. I never felt that I had the job. Once again, it was a great experience to be at Facebook but I didn’t see myself working with them or having a desktop with my stuff on their site. I never had the picture of it.
When I received the call letting me know they weren’t moving forward with the process it was kind of expected but at the same time dissapointing. I was dissapointed about me, about the way in which I performed in the interview. I surely had a problem ’cause it was my second major onsite interview and I blew it again. At that time there were a lot of changes in the place I was living so I just abandoned myself in the mess.
My sister’s husband had a chat with me a few months later, and I decided to invest in myself and work in the app that I had on the App Store, after all I love to code new things and see them on the screen.
Almost every thought about my failures in those interviews were fading away, not for being successful with my app, but for doing what I loved. Then, almost a year and a half after the Facebook’s interview:
The second job interview with Facebook
I got contacted by a recruiter via email. The curious thing about the first contact is they referred to this site as my current job position… I wasn’t making that much money but at least is what I had at that time. This contact was around the time I was reaching the 100,000 downloads mark with TunesFlow so I thought that perhaps I was being noticed because of that. Did I do that? Did I pushed the awareness of my app just to get noticed by them? I thought about that. There was a time in which I used free ads budget to target Menlo Park and Cupertino, but on the other hand it wasn’t being profitable for me or it didn’t work and I dropped that idea to focus on the app by itself.
Then I reached the 100,000 downloads with TunesFlow. Something changed. I wasn’t so sure that I wanted to work for Facebook but for the money, the environment and the people. I was more excited for having my app for the Apple Watch® than for being interviewed again by Facebook.
I prepared again making exercises and doing research about coding interviews, also reading the information available on glassdoor. I did some research about the internal structure in Facebook’s engineering to prepare some questions about a career in Facebook. Sometimes I thought that I was going to succeed in the process. I was wrong. I had mistakes. I felt bad at the beginning, but not the crushing bad that I felt before. I felt bad for trying to memorize computer science exercises when my mind doesn’t work like that. I remembered then when I was studying engineering and physics that a couple of teachers told me that I was following the path of a donkey, but in some strange way I arrived to the solution.
It’s not strange being in the path of a donkey and arriving to the solution for me. I’m stubborn (like a donkey). So this time I wrote the thank you emails for the recruiters. When I received the response from the first recruiter I answered with a feedback were I explained that something in the process didn’t quite feel right. It’s not that I wanted to overcome the process with a different approach, but I wanted to state I wasn’t so sure that I would ever approve the process no matter how many computer science problems I could solve…and right now, I’m not sure if I want to do that and perhaps it wasn’t about the problems about algorithms. Does it matter? Perhaps the path for my self improvement is not going to lead me to have a job there.
I’m trying everyday not to being too harsh with myself and just accepting what I got. Perhaps at this moment I’m not Apple’s material, I’m not Facebooks’ material but I have a big adventure everyday: my life.
So, if you got here ’cause they told you they won’t be moving forward with you perhaps it’s a good idea and a big opportunity, ’cause perhaps you’re going to move forward with your own pace and life is not about speed, but endurance. Just keep going. If you want to insist that’s ok; if you want to forget that’s ok too. Just keep going…
This is something that I tell my daughter always about life: “When you want to go to the grocery store and you know the path, you start walking until you arrive. You don’t care about the precise distance between you and the store, you don’t care about the exact position of your feet nor the number of steps; if you know the place and the path to arrive to it the only thing that you have to do is to walk towards there”.