Mission: ace the initial screening call and get asked back for in-depth interviews Reply


Congratulations! Hopefully the tips from Mission: score an interview with a Silicon Valley company were helpful, and you have been contacted to talk to the hiring manager. Here are a few tips on how to ace the initial call.

Before the interview

  • Test your system. We often use a video call to interview candidates: Skype or Google Hangouts. Make sure your camera and microphone work. Do not use a phone for video conferencing. Sometimes we do hands-on exercises. Have a working IDE, editor and compiler installed. Lastly, take a few moments to clean up your computer background and desktop files.
  • Be professional. Dress appropriately in a shirt or blouse. A suit or tie is overkill. Also, pay attention to your environment and background. Clean up the room. Coordinate with your family or roommates that you will be in an important interview call.
  • Prepare by exploring the company website. Read about the products, download the evaluation software, check out the videos, or forums. Learn as much as you can about the company. Look up the interviewer on LinkedIn. You have to learn about a common passion.

During the interview

  • Be friendly and personable. Smile. Show a spark.
  • Be confident, but don’t oversell. And no BS.
  • Ask clarifying questions, especially if your English is not that great.
  • Be sincere if you do not know something but try to answer anyway. For example, “I am not a Java expert, though if it works similar to C#, then …”
  • Don’t give up. Brainstorm. An interview is not a pass/fail test. One candidate felt he should have been asked back for an in-depth interview because he answered six of the ten questions correctly; in his eyes, he had passed the interview. Unfortunately, for the four questions he missed, he didn’t even try to answer them. Being able to figure out things you don’t know is one of the most important skills of an engineer.
  • Don’t play hard to get or show you are disinterested. Don’t act selectively.
  • Think of some questions to ask about the company, job, customers, etc.

Good luck getting to the in-depth interview mission. Apply now to start the process!

Mission: score an interview with a Silicon Valley company 1

RTI’s engineering team is based in Sunnyvale, CA. We also have a smaller, yet rapidly growing team in Granada, Spain.

Between Sunnyvale and Granada stands 6000 miles. It takes an entire day to travel there. And we need to keep a difference of 9 hours in mind when organizing team meetings.

There are also quite a few differences in how people write a resume (curriculum vitae,) and approach getting a job.

This blog post is a summary of my recent presentation to the engineering students at the University of Granada: “How to get hired by a Silicon Valley Company.” Many of the tips below are not just beneficial to new engineering graduates in Spain, but also to new grads in the US.

Your first mission is to be invited for an initial interview.

Your preparation started yesterday

Before you approach the graduation stage and walk to the tune of Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March, there are quite a few things you can do. These are things which go beyond your regular classes and assignments.

Hiring managers pay attention to the type of internships and projects you worked on. You can show your love for programming through your open source contributions or by the cool demo you built at a hackathon. Your work speaks for itself if I can download and test drive your mobile application from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

Beyond the technical projects, it is important to learn and practice English. Our Granada team is designed as an extension of the team in Sunnyvale. As a result, engineers in Spain will work on a project together with engineers in California. Being able to express and defend your ideas well, in English, is important. Some of us learned English while watching Battlestar Galactica (the original) or Star Trek. We may even admit to picking up phrases watching the A-team or Baywatch. Yes, those shows are a few decades old. Learn, read, write and mostly find a way to speak English often. Go on an adventure through the Erasmus program, and practice English.

Lastly, start building your professional online profile:

  • Create a LinkedIn profile. Most often, employers will consult your LinkedIn profile, even before your resume. Please use a picture, suitable for work.
  • Create a personal website, with your resume, your projects, and how to contact you. Resumes and LinkedIn profiles are dull. Your website allows you to describe the projects in more depth, and include diagrams and even videos of your demos. Consider it the illustrated addendum to your resume.
  • Share your thoughts on a blog, or on websites such as Medium.
  • Contributions to Github or Stack Overflow speak for themselves. You can start by adding your school assignments to your GitHub profile. However, hiring managers will look for contributions beyond the things you had to do to get a good grade.
  • Publish your applications to the Apple App Store of Google Play Store. I love to download the applications of a candidate and try it out. It takes time, effort and even guts to create a working application and share it publicly.
  • Manage your social profile carefully. Future employers may look at your Twitter rants or Facebook antics.

Drop the Europass style of resume

There are plenty of websites which give you the basics to write a good resume: keep it to 1–2 pages and follow a simple structure: objective, education, experience and projects, skills and qualifications and finally list your accomplishments, etc.

Here are a few Do’s and Don’ts, specifically for international candidates:

  • Write your resume in English. Make sure there are no typos. Use online services, such as Hemmingway App or Google Translate, to improve your work.
  • Focus on what you learned or did on a project. Do not just list project names, leaving the reader to guess what you did.
  • Add hyperlinks where the resume screener can get more details. And make sure the hyperlinks work.
  • Add your grades, in easy to understand terms, e.g., specify you graduated, first in class with 92%, rather than 6.1/7. I do get confused when I see two non-correlated grades: e.g., 3.2/4 and 8.7/10.
  • Read other US resumes to learn the lingo. A hiring manager might check if you took a class in Data structures and algorithms; in your university, that may have been covered in Programación II.
  • Customize your resume for the job.
  • Do not create any cute resume designs. No background or design touches (unless you are applying for a design job).
  • Drop the Europass resume format; i.e., do not include a picture, data of birth or multiple contact addresses. For an engineering position, I do not care about your driver’s license information. Do not use the standardized table to indicate your proficiency in various languages. Rather than indicate you rate your proficiency in German as a B2, state, “Conversational German.”
  • Do not use long lists of keywords, technologies or acronyms.
  • A pet peeve of mine: do not list Word or Excel unless you actually developed add-ons for those applications. Similarly, only list Windows, if you developed to the Windows APIs.

A cover letter allows you to make a great first impression

Before you submit your resume, craft a cover letter. Although most companies do not require it, I recommended creating one as it allows you to introduce yourself in your words. It is your first impression.

A short and well-crafted introduction letter allows you to make a more personal connection. Your intro paragraph should list the job you are applying for and why you are excited about the job and the company. Next, describe in three points why you are a great fit. Describe your successes. Do not repeat your resume. Close by asking for the interview.

You probably read this blog post because you are ready to contact RTI for a job. Let me make it easy: go to the RTI Career Page.

Good luck.

Looking for the next Jedi Knights Reply


Graduating in 2016 must be exciting. This is especially if you graduate with a computer science degree. You are at the cusp of the next best thing – the internet of things (IoT).

You surely read all about the IoT hype. IoT promises to impact the world economy in the billions, even several trillions. Wow! IoT spans everything we know. You surely heard about Fitbit biometric devices, the Apple watch, Google Glass, DropCam home surveillance cameras, Nest connected thermostats and even Roost connected smoke detector batteries.

But yet, the bigger impact on our lives however will come from the industrial internet of things. Connected patient monitoring promises to bump medical errors out of the top 10 causes of death. Smart grids will make alternative energy systems actually have an impact on today’s energy grid. Autonomous vehicles and taxis have the potential to uproot entire industries, and even how cities of the future are built. Again Wow!

How will you decide where to start your career? After all, you are ready and eager to land a great job. You worked hard to earn your engineering degree. You spent countless hours in front of your laptop screen working on programming assignments. You volunteered in the university lab. Your Github profile goes beyond listing class projects. It shows how you made valuable contributions to several open source projects. You worked tirelessly during your summer time off on a variety of internship projects. All this leads to a great resume,which shows off your skills, knowledge and practical experience.

There are few different types of IoT careers to consider:

  • The Connector – The internet of things would be nowhere without the wireless devices, the IoT gateways, and lightweight networking protocols which connect ordinary devices to the cloud. You own your own Arduino or Beagle board and love tinkering around with hardware, operating systems, and network APIs to make smart sensors talk to plants or to control lights.
  • R2-D2 – You eat data for breakfast – A lot of the value from (I)IoT comes from analyzing the vast amounts of data from the connected devices. You love analytics, big data, and Hadoop.
  • White Hatter– Security is key to the industrial internet of things. How do you keep your data secure? How do you make sure that no hacker takes over your electric grid?
  • Jedi – You look at industrial systems in its entirety and harness the power of the IoT Force. The Force surrounds us. It binds the galaxy together. Without the critical real-time infrastructure you put in place, there are no smart cities. Surgical robots would not exist. Autonomous vehicles would crawl at a snails pace, as subsystems can not communicate with each other in real-time. You like working on the core to make intelligent systems work in real-time. (However, please leave your lightsaber at the door.)

At Real-Time Innovations, we live and breathe what makes the industrial internet of things work. RTI provides the real-time, secure, connectivity platform for the industrial internet of things. RTI’s data-bus allows devices to discover each other automatically and interoperate in real-time. Our software provides reliable communication, with real-time performance, at scale. This is the foundation to build industrial internet of things. Check out more at http://www.rti.com.

We are looking for several new grad Jedi Padawans and Knights, both in our Sunnyvale, CA Headquarter office, as well as in Granada Spain.

At RTI, you will be able to make a real difference. As a company, we are large enough to impact the world, yet small enough that you can impact us. If you like programming, and aspire to have your work be at the heart of important smart machines, come check us out. We program in a variety of programming languages. (You don’t need to know them all. We believe a good programmer will pick up other languages quickly). We run on many many different (real-time) operating systems and platforms. We support several communication transports. We are a fun group, which values creativity, risk-taking, innovation, and open communication.

Interested? Send us your Jedi resume at http://www.rti.com/company/careers.html. Check out what to expect from the interview process.

PS – If you are not graduating in 2016, but in spring of 2017, ping us as well. We are always looking to connect with engineers who have a strong interest in RTI and the industrial internet of things.