My First Tech Job Coding Exercise and Interview

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Just over a week ago, I was contacted by a recruiter for a position as a Site Replicator.   The position consisted of replicating and adding new features to the company’s existing websites with a team of engineers, product managers, product developers and others.  The company is in the process of transferring their sites from ASP.Net to WordPress.   The position was a 6 month contracted job.  After I told the recruiter I was interested, he forwarded my resume to the director of the project.  The project director informed the recruiter he was interested in having a telephone interview with me.  Upon learning this, I was nervous.  This was my first tech phone interview.  My mind starts to wonder “what is he going to ask me?”.  Then my thoughts quickly turned into “What am I going to say?”  Surprisingly, the interview went very fast and it wasn’t as intimidating as I made it out to be beforehand.  Before the director and I ended the call, he relayed to me that he was going to have the recruiter send me a code exercise to complete.  I didn’t know what to expect at this point.  I received the exercise which was to make a custom theme that replicates a website they had already made in WordPress.   I went to the site I was to replicate and I immediate started thinking…”how can I do this?”.  I’ve never made a custom WordPress theme before.  At this point the recruiter is calling and emailing me asking “how long do you think it will take you to finish?”.   I didn’t know what to say five days? a week?  I responded with “I’ll have it done by Monday, which was 6 days later.

One of the first things I did was enroll in the Complete WordPress Theme Development course on Udemy.   I spent the next four days learning the loop, PHP functions, WordPress best practices and other components pertinent to WordPress theme development in my free time.2632de6186ea-wordpress-laptop  After those four days of learning, it was time to get busy on the exercise. By this time I only had two days left,  I was so stressed and scared.  Scared that I didn’t have the skills to pull this off.  I was definitely suffering from Imposter Syndrome. Monday approaches and I’m running on fumes of sleep and the project is all that I’m thinking about…even in my dreams.  On the morning that I’m having to turn it in, one of my carousels isn’t coming together the way I wanted it.   The site has two of them and they serve as a main focal point on the page.   After panicking a little, I regrouped and was able to figure out what I needed to do to get it to look similar as the site I was replicating.  That evening, I emailed the project to the director.  I didn’t feel confident about it to be honest.  It looked like the site I was replicating; however, there was things I felt could have been better.  I didn’t feel I was going to be asked to proceed further.  Long story short, the director was impressed with what I had done.  I was able to go in for a face to face interview and was basically offered the job.  However, I didn’t accept it.  They needed me immediately and I needed time to get my kids setup for before and after school care.  In addition to being offered the job, I came to learn that two of the people the recruiter presented for the position before me, had a hard time replicating the site.  This made me really happy.

This experience gave me the confidence I needed as a junior developer.  It solidified my decision to enter this field and helped me realize that I have what it takes to make it as a developer.  In addition, it has motivated me to learn more about WordPress custom theme/plugin development and add them to my skill set.


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