Codeweavers - My Recruitment Experience

20th April 2016

This week has been a roller-coaster of train journeys, hotels, house inspections, interview preparation, studying company websites and trying to remember the names of people I want to impress. But despite all the organised chaos I will mostly remember this week for securing my new job with Codeweavers.

Having just been through the process, I would like to share my experience of how Codeweavers recruited me, so that anyone considering putting themselves forward as a candidate may have some understanding of what to expect. Of course it may all have changed by then!

Having recently decided to move to the Stafford area I had made the labour of love that was my CV publicly available on a handful of the top UK job boards. Of course I was immediately inundated with recruiters wanting to have a chat. One of the more professional sounding consultants, Nick, suggested I may be a good fit for a role he was recruiting for. After diligently picking through my career history and experience, he explained that the role was for a senior developer at a great company, but that the main server side language they used was C#. I was a little taken aback as my experience is with PHP. Having been in the software industry long enough, I know that experience with a particular language is one thing, but knowing how to efficiently and professionally craft code that follows established software principles is what really matters, to me at least. I explained this to Nick and his response was the first indication that this wasn’t your usual run-of-the-mill company. He rather surprisingly exclaimed that Codeweavers had said exactly the same to him. With that, we concluded that he would get my CV over to them and share with them what we had discussed.

Now, I know that when a company needs more staff they can move pretty quickly but I wasn’t quite expecting the turn around Codeweavers were working to. Within a day they had arranged for me to take part in the first stage of their interview process…an online test. To some the mere thought of being tested online, where someone might be able to play back your every keystroke and mouse move to see exactly what you were thinking might be a terrifying experience, and yes of course I am one of those people. As the email with the test link came in early evening I could barely focus, for my stomach was churning with fear of the unknown questions that awaited. I excused myself from dinner while my 2 year old girl finished covering herself and the table in ice-cream and shut myself away with my computer.

I first checked out the system Codeweavers were using for their tests and reassured myself that it didn’t track my every mouse move but provided a nice way of asking multiple choice questions as well as text based answers. As I clicked the link and the first question came up my second fear was realised, they wanted to know the answer to something written in C#. I thought I was done for. I quickly skipped on and soon realised that half the questions were ones I was able to answer. Questions around methodologies, questions around best practice and how to tackle design problems. I relaxed and started furiously typing away. 30 mins later it was all over. My time ran out and I was forced to stop blabbering on about the advantages of rigidly following the SOLID principles.

I didn’t sleep well that night. I’d convinced myself that my inability to answer half the questions, had clearly set my score below par and that was the end for this potential job. I waited in agony until the end of the day before hearing from Nick that I had in fact passed the test. Knowing my experience Codeweavers had expected me not to answer the C# questions. They also confirmed I had done very well on the other questions, and best of all, they wanted to invite me to a face-to-face interview.

On the day of the interview I arrived in a freshly purchased M&S suit (I don’t often have occasion to wear a suite and I’d lost a bit of weight since the last time so it hung off me like the trumpet player of a bad 80s ska band). I was greeted by Paul, the Academy leader and after some initial chit-chat we set to work on the second phase of the interview process; a 60 min long pair programming exercise in which Paul wrote tests and I wrote the code to pass the tests. Now that would be all well and good, I’m a keen advocate of test driven development and I’m quite happy pair programming but I had chosen to do this test in C#. Paul had given me the choice of C# or JavaScript (which I am quite familiar with) but I thought, in for a penny in for a pound. I had had a few days to get familiar with C#’s syntax and in amongst all the other stuff that was dominating my life (looking for a new house, checking out schools etc) I had managed to focus on a “teach yourself C# in 30 days” guide for at least a few hours the day before.

The pair programming went well. I wasn’t asked to leave the process and although Paul had to correct me on a few mistakes, I got through all the tests and my code didn’t look too bad.

The final stage of the process concluded immediately after the coding; a very informal interview with Paul, Roland the CEO and a senior front-end developer Ben. We talked through my CV, discussing my experience, responsibilities of previous roles and generally getting to know what kind of thing I’ve been up to. We chatted for about 20 mins, at the end of which Roland checked with the others that they agreed I would be a good fit for the company. They agreed. Paul said we would all let the recruitment company know how we’d got on and they would put forward the job details and salary they would offer.

I walked out of the interview delighted not only that they were happy with me but that I had found an awesome company to work at. I had been impressed by so much, the continuous delivery pipeline, including the playing of “Wrecking Ball” across the offices when someone broke the build, the relaxed feeling of everyone I spoke to, there was no feeling that the CEO was anything other than another member of the team and the importance of attitude and desire for personal development for everyone.

I called Nick at the recruitment company almost immediately and told him how impressed I’d was as well as how well I thought the interview had gone. He was pleased and over the next couple of days we discussed my starting salary. Once I’d accepted the position, I was emailed a company handbook along with an offer letter and I was all set to do the not so pleasant task of letting my current employer know.
Handing my notice in was taken well, I was moving halfway across the country for family reasons and my boss knew that. I now had a six weeks to wait to start my first day at Codeweavers. Six weeks that was of feverishly studying C#, AngularJS and preparing to move house. Six weeks that soon flew past.

Nick, my excellent recruitment consultant later admitted that some of his colleagues thought him wrong to put me forward for the position given my lack of C# knowledge but sat here now preparing start work at Codeweavers in only a few weeks I’m sure he was right. I hope other companies take heed of this way of thinking and break out of the mindset that you have to bring people on board who have x number of years experience in a particular language as that’s really only a small part of what makes a developer worth their weight. And if they’re experienced enough they’ll soon pick up a new language.