As a career changer and a black woman, transitioning into tech has been a challenging and so far, a rewarding experience. Prior to working at Thoughtworks, I worked for more than a decade in the legal industry assisting Intellectual Property litigation attorneys. In 2016, I decided to learn to code and attended an online coding bootcamp while I was working full time. It was definitely effortful learning to code, however, I wanted to make the change into tech because I knew the opportunities to be creative and grow professionally would be plentiful.
After spending quite a bit of time learning to code, the next step on the journey was to interview for a developer position at a tech company. From what I learned as I read various interview prep articles, is that most tech interviews have similar components: a cultural or professional interview, a technical interview and a pair programming interview or a mix of these.
When I interviewed for a developer role at Thoughtworks in 2019, I expected it to be challenging, on both a professional and personal level. I also expected it to be arduous because I would be tested on the technical knowledge I acquired and of course, imposter syndrome kicked in because I didn’t know if I was “ready” to interview. However, when the interview was over and I headed back home to NY, I felt like I had one of the best interview experiences (including my prior career) and this was my first and only tech interview.
For each of the interview sessions, I had a mix of women, men, non-binary people and women of color who interviewed me. I felt like TW made a conscious effort to show that I belonged at TW and in tech in general. I also felt seen as an individual and the interview process reflected the kind of people I would want to work with at TW. When I started my journey into tech, I honestly did not expect to see people who looked like me, until I started attending meetups and conferences. Therefore, having a diverse and inclusive interview process confirmed that Thoughtworks was the place I wanted to start my career in tech.
During the interview process, I made sure to focus on the coding skills I learned during my coding bootcamp, as well as, the skills I acquired during my time in the legal field. As I noted earlier, I expected to struggle with imposter syndrome because I worked in a completely different field and not entirely sure if I belonged in tech due to my previous background. I did not experience any bias because I was a career changer, nor did it feel like that was a factor in their approach during the interview. The interviewers were really helpful and collaborative, which put me at ease so I could focus on what was important during the interview.
I realized the difference maker between a great interview and an ok interview is when the interviewers come into the interview open, unbiased and welcoming to the candidate. Also when the interviewers ask thoughtful questions, are non-judgmental and pair with the candidate on the test solution in a way that encourages creativity to flow, it sets the candidate at ease. It's definitely clear when an organization is thoughtful in their interview process. Companies that are intentional about who interviews candidates—in other words, are the interviewers diverse and reflective of society?—and how those interviews are conducted, set themselves apart.
Based on my experience, providing an inclusive, unbiased interview experience leaves a good impression on a candidate. It also makes the candidate feel like the company is a place where the candidate can contribute to the company’s mission and grow professionally. I felt like whether I got the job or not, Thoughtworks set the bar for interview experiences and it would be difficult for another organization to top that.
Disclaimer: The statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Thoughtworks.