A White Board Can Be the Difference Between You and a Job. Here’s Why.

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Be open, communicative, and unafraid to explain your thought process. If that means going to a white board and making some diagrams, all the better.

That’s the short version of Jon Stemmle, VP of Engineering at Topspin Media’s advice for how to rock your interview for a front-end developer position. For the extended version, read on.

What is your current job title? Which positions do you review applications for?

I’m the VP of Engineering at Topspin Media. I review applicants for all engineering, operations, product manager, design, and QA positions.

What are some things that college students can do to make their applications stand out?

Good cover letter. Follow up with the company.

Which majors tend to be most successful in the positions you review applications for?

I find CS and Symbolic Systems majors are most successful.

What are some things you look for in résumés and cover letters? Are there any things that would send an applicant to the “no” pile right away?

Pet peeves: Spelling errors and résumés over two pages for somebody junior.

Good things: well-written and consistent résumé. I look at it as an indicator of your attention to detail. If you won’t put the attention into your résumé, will you put it into the job?

What steps would you recommend a student take to best prepare for a career in this field?

The biggest thing I look for is intelligence, the ability to learn new skills, and great communication.

What do the best candidates do to stand out in an interview for front-end developer positions?

I like front-end developers that can go one level deeper to help fix problems they are facing. The best candidates are well-spoken and highly communicative about projects they have worked on. They happily go right to the white board and start explaining things with diagrams.

Homework time! Craft a plan to make sure you don’t get caught off guard in an interview. If you know that diagrams are important, make sure you have some blank paper, pens, and maybe even a white board marker on hand. Remember: This could be the difference between getting the job or not!

To learn more about Jon, follow him on Twitter @stemmle 


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