This post is about a job application process for a tech company.

I posted a real IT Teaching Philosophy around 3 years ago. I know that it was real because I wrote it and put together the application package to teach at an educational institution. I ended up not getting accepted for an interview at this university.

I want to continue this series because it's important that you build your networking (the human type) and communication skills, along with your tech skills.

Without further ado, here's an example job application process for a tech company. Think of this as an application process case study.

Company Research

  1. Looked at company history over the last 5 years
  2. Looked at company values – Looks like they work and play hard
  3. Looked at employee handbook
  4. It's no accident I initiated email support, chat support, and a 2 orders of a free service they offer before the phone interview.

Positioning Myself to the Company

  • Come up with past examples and how I can help this company moving forward.
  • Demonstrate that I don't know everything and am teachable.
  • Let them know I'm willing to teach others.

Job Application Process for a Tech Company Requirements

Job Skills

Knowledge of WordPress, WordPress Plugins, and WordPress Themes.

Knowledge of Apache, NGINX, and MySQL.

Has familiarity with server infrastructure providers (Digital Ocean, AWS, and more).

At least basic knowledge and comfortably using general internet infrastructure (DNS, SFTP, and more).

Has experience accurately and briefly explaining issues to clients that may or may not have tech backgrounds.

Has a desire to help people, and a strong sense of empathy for their needs.

Is willing to learn new things, and has an aptitude for technology.

Application Questions

What are the pros and cons of a VPS compared to a dedicated server?

A VPS can be flexible in costs as resources can be reserved as opposed to using an entire, more expensive dedicated server. You can customize a VPS and even have root access but there can still be restrictions whereas a dedicated host can offer the highest customization options.

A VPS setup can offer a better plug and play experience as providers usually offer 1-click install scripts and other management solutions. Dedicated server offerings are usually hands off.

A dedicated server is quite literally an entire server dedicated to your needs. You'll be able to use all resources of the server as you wish, including the hosting environment. Dedicated servers really shine when you exceed and maintain a high-level of website visitors a month and you're able to hire a team dedicated to optimize and help maintain the server.

The pros of a VPS will outweigh the cons until you need specific business requirements that can only be met by a dedicated server.

Please explain how DNS resolution works.

So you want to go to a website and you put in the website (domain) name company.com into the address bar. Your computer asks their trusty friend Mr. DNS through either your local DNS server or through your internet provider where they can find company‘s address. If your “local” DNS server doesn't know they will ask a friend through a referral. This referral process continues until you get your answer. Eventually, one of your DNS pals will come through and say “hey, we found that company is being served through a global content delivery network called Cloudflare at this address: company's actual Cloudflare address (at least at the time of writing this). You'll see them shortly!”

This resource is a lot less fun, especially if you're the HR person… ahem, people team member reading this, but I wanted to share this visual explanation I like from Solarwinds.

When faced with a technical challenge, what's your favorite tool of choice? (shell scripting, python, brute force, etc).

The ol' trusty Google and determination (brute force). Most of the time you can find someone else who's had a similar issue. Sometimes you can adapt someone else's similar issue and take the lessons learned to figure out how to navigate your own issue. And finally, a few cases will creep up on you where the time spent solving the issue would better suited to finding a replacement solution or implementing some type of compensating control.

I like to stick ideas, configurations, and solutions in my WordPress notebook in Onenote, that way the next similar issue or restoration will go even faster!

Python does look pretty awesome though. Learning this particular tool is already on my future project list as there are some cool security tasks you can do with it.

What are some basic weaknesses an attacker might use to install malware on a WordPress site?

Oh man, there are so many things that can make a WordPress website vulnerable! Here are a few common ones:

Normally the WordPress version would be up there pretty high but you guys manage and update WP versions for your customers! Next up is poorly coded or out of date plugins, themes, and easy to guess passwords.

What are a few commands that you would expect to run through SSH in a given day?

I fully expect the basics to be run in a given day:

Navigating directories: ls – list, cd – change directory (cd ..), pwd – print working directory

Processes and programs: kill – stops a process, killall program (stop running processes of a program)

file manipulation: cp – copy, mv – move, rm – delete, mkdir – make new directory

general diagnostics: du – disk usage, netstat – current network connections, grep – search patterns in files

Any uncommon commands that come up will happily be added to the SSH tab under my Linux notebook in Onenote.

What are the 3 parts to an SSL setup? Give a brief description on how the process works.

SSL allow for communications or data in transit to be encrypted. This is important so your communications cannot be intercepted and modified by third parties. A properly installed security certificate helps make a website secure. Here are the main parts:

  1. The SSL certificate: This is the public part of the public/private key pair that is used to encrypt transmissions. The SSL certificate itself is a file that is received first when someone connects over HTTPS. This file contains the domain and information that supports the owner of the certificate.
  2. The private key: This is the private part of the public/private key pair that is stored securely by the host/website. This key is not given out to any other entity. This key in conjunction with the public certificate is what helps prove the server is in fact what it claims to be.
  3. Intermediate certificates: These additional certificates create a chain of trust and act as an additional layer of security to ensure your main or root certificate is protected. This is especially helpful if your original certificate is recognized by a certificate authority, a trusted third party that's accepted by companies, browsers, and operating systems. Setting up a trusted chain certificate will help prevent security errors that browsers love to show.

What's a link to your most favorite thing on the internet? Why is it your favorite?

The biggest thing I'm into at the moment is seeing good ads. I've always liked the “Real Men of Genius” ads and the annual NFL Superbowl ads but these 3 marketing projects are too awesome to pass up:

  1. ClickFunnels gold digger commercial
  2. Nearly every Terry Crews Old Spice commercial
  3. Wendy's mixtape songs that were released on iTunes in March. I like that after 20 consecutive quarters of same-store sales growth they were willing to try something weird and unexpected.

It's super hard to choose just one. The reason why I love this type of marketing is that it's proof that it's not only ok to have fun at work, but the best creative moments come when you're given the freedom to laugh and have fun. Be weird!!

What makes you happy at work?

Being able to help people solve their problems. Working with a talented team to push beyond the limits of what makes a good company. Learning new things to understand or automate systems. Knowing what's expected to having clearly defined goals. Making progress in every way (as a company, as an employee, as a problem solver, in skill acquisition, in developing relationships, with compensation… literally every way). Progress creates momentum and even a little momentum can be powerful.

We would love to hear about why you want to work at company and why you would be a good fit. Think of this as your cover letter.

Hello company culture name,

First let me start by painting you a picture. It was a beautiful day in sunny Pensacola, Florida when I decided to move away from EasyPHP and build an Ubuntu server in Virtualbox. I went through and custom built a headless web development server. Everything was great, and I was very happy. While on a great adventure one day I discovered tool in a WordPress development course I was taking. Being the person I am I gave it a try, after all the Windows version just released in Beta. That is when I knew this was it. I was sucked in and the Ubuntu project I spent many hours on was finished forever and soon found itself in the trash can and out of my VM manager. After using tool for a while, I decided to further test company by purchasing a single website hosting plan. That was not enough for me and soon I needed more! I then purchased a bulk hosting plan after landing my first 2 paying clients. The fun didn't stop there. I completely reinvested the proceeds by buying items related to WordPress including but not limited to a suite of themes and plugins.

Now that the love story is out of the way I can get to the ‘why’. I believe in the mission that company first started on in year, to do something nice. My WordPress “business” is still in the beginning stages but I got to see first hand the leverage that company gave my side hustle. I was able to use my knowledge to explain to my clients the benefits of partnering up with company. At my current full-time job, I feel like I have maxed out the number of people that I can help. Working at company will allow me to help more people develop a passion and understanding for WordPress and company like I have.

Working in IT and security has given me perspective. Not everyone is going to have the amazing love and understanding with WordPress and company. I need to be able to accurately describe situations and solutions to the wide variety of clients that I will work with. This could be someone who struggles to turn on the computer to someone who can build websites in their sleep. The biggest way I've successfully done this is not only explaining in simple terms what the issue is and what my team is doing to solve it, but also the WHY. This perspective has proven to be a hit in my most recent Udemy course on Security Awareness.

This cover letter is brief, but I’d love to be able to chat with you more! It seems like we’re a good fit for each other but it’s always good to go a tad deeper to make sure. I can be flexible in scheduling a time to interview with adequate notice. Thanks a bunch!

All the best,

Roy Davis

Job Application Process for a Tech Company Wrap Up

What do you think about this job application process for a tech company? What can be improved? Would you hire me at your tech company? Do you think I got the interview? Let me know in the comments below.

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