How to nail a job interview in Luxembourg remotely

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My name is Alexander, I have been an iOS developer for 7 years. An important moment: unlike the rest of the interviewees, I don't live in Luxembourg yet, but I'm planning to move. I am currently in Montenegro and I am in the process of discussing an emplyment with a company from the Grand Duchy.
How to nail a job interview in Luxembourg remotely

Like many of my fellow countrymen, I have been thinking about being legalized in another country for the past year. For five years I worked remotely and resided in Bali, but I never actually tried to get any documents confirming my status. Since February I turned my gaze to Portugal, Spain, or somewhere in the world.

Why work in the office

I came across an article about Luxembourg on the VC portal by chance, then I watched the interview on YouTube. Then, also by chance, I found the Luxtoday chat, and subscribed to your news channel.

I became curious, I started to think about relocation as a financially independent individual. That is, the idea was originally to relocate my own project.

However, quickly it became clear that it could be quite costly. Then the idea came up to look at the options for cooperation with local companies.

So I opened up LinkedIn to look at job offers. It turned out that there were only two or three — Luxembourg is very small. Later I found out that there were about 20 other people applying for this position!

Back then I still doubted my interview skills. The problem was the specifics of the interview with software engineers.

Very often there are a lot of tasks on algorithms and data structure. You have to prepare for this in advance, and I didn't.

First I wrote to HR and asked how the interview goes in general, how many stages there are, and other intriguing questions. They immediately offered to call and discuss all the details.

How many stages in the interview

Before the call, I decided to do a little research to find out more about the company itself. I found employees on LinkedIn, and one of them turned out to be a Russian-speaking person. His name was Andrei, so it wasn't hard to guess :))

He had worked for this company since April and was able to recommend it as a trustworthy contractor. For me that was enough.

Our first meeting with HR took about 15-20 minutes. During this time he told me about the company: about the plans, usual tasks, and people that I was going to work with.

And right away I was scheduled for my first technical interview with a team leader.

It turned out that there were two executives at the interview. The first was in the iOS development department, where I actually applied for the job. The second, as I understood it, was the head of the entire Mobile development department.

We talked for about an hour in English. There were basic questions, like how the memory works, what tools I use in my daily work, and what technologies I know. There were also questions about the resume.

There is one trick. Developers usually have a fairly large list of technologies that they have been working with for 5-7 years. This allows the resume to be tailored to the specific needs of the employer.

This is easy for everyone. The job seeker does not need to make a long list, and the employer can quickly check if the person has lied on his application form.

For example, you write that you have worked with a particular technology. The teamleader will ask you how you have adapted that technology to certain tasks. This is how technical interviews usually go.

I didn't like my own answers very much, to be honest. I was noticeably nervous, and the language barrier was still present. I suppose that some things I described were not deep enough, in some cases, I even made mistakes, probably. And some of them I wouldn't have made if I had spoken in my native language.

Nevertheless, I was contacted the next day and was told that I had made it to the next round. They asked me to let them know when I would be ready for the next stage. In total there were supposed to be three.

How to make home assignments

The second stage was a homework assignment. Before that, we did not solve tasks, as they do at Google, for example. However, they couldn't help but test our programming skills. So that was the second round, and that was a kind of examination.

I was sent a pdf with a thorough technical specification. I had to write a small application at home. One week was given for the task, but the writing process itself was not supposed to take more than 4-6 hours.

I'm not sure if they somehow tracked the time spent, but I decided to prepare better. I already had a task description, so I googled several questions, practiced with typical problems, and then allotted a whole day and sat down to write the task app.

There was nothing super-complicated about the test, really. You had to write an add-on that saves and reads information from the local database. Something like a to-do manager.

The tasks may be added, saved, or changed, and subtasks may be attached to them. There were three categories of these to-do:

  • a simple with one task;
  • medium difficulty, which could have one attachment;
  • a complex task, in which you can have three attachments, and these attachments can be pictures, for example.

So the complexity was not the highest, but there were plenty of subtleties. For example, it was necessary to adjust the interface so that nothing would float and be adequately displayed.

It took me a little longer than I was supposed to: maybe 6-8 hours. But I don't think it was really even a question of time. There are different ways to solve this tasks.

Personally, I consider myself in the middle+ category, but I know, for example, the way novice developers would solve it, and I imagine how super-experienced ones would do it. So the development executives were probably looking at how you build the architecture, how you separate the responsibilities of the layers.

What is «virtual immersion»

A couple of weeks later I received a response that the employer was happy with my code. Then, they looked at the work of other candidates and selected several people for a virtual session.

That's a kind of full-time workday with complete immersion in work and real tasks, except it's done remotely. It's quite an interesting experience.

We have agreed to work together for the whole day: we organize a call at 9 a.m., we discuss tasks, I take them, a couple of hours later we have another call, check progress, and so on.

There was one uncomfortable moment — I had to connect remotely to their computer and work with my computer, but on the machine in Luxembourg. Other than that, everything went as planned.

At 9 o'clock I got the assignment. Two hours later I receive a workcall:

- How's it going?

- I'm fine, I've done this and this, but I don't know how to handle this for now.

- So, okay, let's slow down here. We will do a simplified version, and here are the new details.

So we worked all day, mostly, of course, with the team leader of iOS development.

What seemed difficult or unclear

The job itself is pretty self-explanatory since I have been working in this environment for a long time. At the interview, however, there was a question that always puzzles me as a developer. I was asked to describe myself in three words. I do not even remember what I answered, I think I was a nature lover, curious and very persistent.

I'm not an HR, so I can't really figure out how questions like this make you realize how good I am :))

Another question that came up was why I decided to join the office after five years of working remotely. But the reasoning here is pretty clear.

I answered that I wanted to get legalized and stay in one particular place because moving all the time is very difficult. And remote work is also exhausting. I would like to immerse myself in tasks and not be distracted by household chores.

I must say that the company, of course, is not a behemoth like Google or Facebook. They do not provide a complete relocation package down to paying for housing, but they do help with all the paperwork, and that's very important.

Another confusion occurred when I mentioned that I was running my own project too. At this point, they became very cautious. What kind of project, and for whom, and what do you do, how much time does it take?

We went away to have a little chat with the lawyers. It turned out that they had a restriction.

You can't do related projects while you're working for them: especially if you're in the same field as they're doing. And for a year after you quit your job for whatever reason, you can't do that either.

This is a very strange demand for us as developers. In fact, the design of modern applications intersects in one way or another. For instance, almost all applications have user registration or a chatbot. If you get cut off from these technologies, you're almost out of a job. We are discussing this very actively right now, and we have kind of found a solution.

It was later when I found out that they had an employee who spent more time and effort on his own project than he did on the company's work. So these guys are just being overprotective :)

Of course, the process was a nervous one, but my mother and wife supported me a lot, which helped tremendously. Now I just have to wait for the offer and relocate to Luxembourg.

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