The Commons Digest (07/13/2022)

The COmmons Insider Newsletter

The Commons Weekly Digest

This is your new digest from The Commons. The format & content looks a bit different. We're focusing more on telling the career stories of our community - journeys and advice you can learn from. We'll also be highlighting other ways you can level up - through community events, Sprints and discussions happening in our community.

Think of it like a TL;DR of the massive group chat that happens in The Commons community every day. We'd love to hear what you think of the new format!
Have a friend who is interesting in subscribing - forward them THIS LINK to sign up!

In this week's issue:

  • Learn how to nail a Technical SQL Screen
  • Updating Your LinkedIn Profile: A Thread
  • The Commons Events & Open Sprints
  • Your Weekly Level Up
  • ✏️ Practice Interview Question: Compensation
  • ✅ Community Reccos: Podcasts!
  • 💭 Thought Starter: how to interpret years of experience in a job posting
  • 💡Brain teaser
  • 🚀The Commons shares: interview advice for when you get stuck on a response


Strategy & Operations Interviews in Tech: Technical SQL Screen

The interview process at tech companies can be long and grueling. The Commons community is filled with mentors who work in tech - many of whom are on hiring panels at their companies - and community members who are in the midst of interviews. Let us take away some of the unknown by diving into their practical advice on how to nail Technical SQL Screens.

Technical SQL Screens

Interviewer: Generally conducted on an automated program or conducted live to a potential future team member

How Long: 45+ minutes, activity dependent

Purpose: Determine if you have the basic technical skill qualifications for the role. You’ll be evaluated on your logical reasoning (eg. what columns are needed for a SQL output), communication (how you communicate your thought process before diving in, asking clarifying questions, etc.) and code quality / proficiency.

What: Depending on the role, you may need to showcase hard skills such as SQL, data visualization and Excel proficiency. This could be done remotely - for example: an Excel test where you have a specified amount of time to solve a series of questions. Or it may be done in real-time where you share your computer screen with the interviewer - for example: a problem where you need to leverage SQL. Typically you’ll be given a dataset to analyze.

Preparation: It’s really difficult to nail a technical interview unless you’ve actually practiced using formulas (whether it’s SQL, Excel, etc).

🧠 We might be a bit biased, but we think the best place to learn SQL in the context of a real business problem is through The Commons Core Sprint. You’ll learn fundamental SQL skills through workshops, have access to a data Slack channel and mentors who use SQL daily, and you’ll apply your learnings to a real business problem. It’s as close to being on the job as you can get without being on the job. In a time crunch? Try testdome, w3resource or this guide for practice interview questions.

Advice from The Commons community for preparing for live SQL interviews:

  • Brush up on the basics: Learn how to calculate the median, some window functions, and how to use CTE. Practice joins, case statements and aggregate functions.
  • “I’d recommend doing mock interviews using a timer and questions from Leetcode or HackerRank. Aim for 5 minutes for easy questions, 10 minutes for medium ones, and 15 minutes for the hard ones.” - Community members, January ‘21 (now Data Analyst @ Electronic Arts)
  • It should also go without saying that you shouldn’t oversell your skills on your resume! "Humility and willingness to learn is always better than someone saying they're strong in something, and the hiring manager/interviewer seeing right through you." - Julie-Anne, Commons Mentor

🌟 The Commons Tip: If you get stuck and can't remember how to use a specific SQL function, verbally walk the interviewer through what you would like to do and why, and explain how you would brush up on your skills. Also, always walk the interviewer through your logic and application as you write out your query. Ultimately, your interviewer usually cares more about your ability to dive into the problem from a few different angles. They might even give you a hint as you talk out loud!

Advice from The Commons community for nailing live SQL interviews:

  • Communicate: Talk through your solution (make the interview feel collaborative). Think out loud. If you’re stuck, just say what you’re thinking or what might work. If you are doing the assignment remotely, make sure you show your work so the interviewer can easily review it later (tip: use comments in your code).
  • Keep it simple: Simplify analysis with good formatting and presentation to make it easier for the reviewer.
  • Work backwards from the solution: Keep paper in front of you if that’s allowed. Write out what the result looks like in the form of a result output table. This will help you identify niche cases to account for in your query.
  • Don’t worry about syntax at first and just focus on getting your thoughts down. Solve a simpler version of the problem. Think about how to find the simple solution and see if you can adapt that approach.

➡️ Want more interview advice? Read the full post here.

🚀 Community members, you can also pop into the #job-prep Slack channel to pose any interview prep questions to the community.

What the community is talking about...

Discussions in The Commons community are prolific. Here’s a top one from this past week: Updating Your LinkedIn Profile.

When you're on the job hunt, having an updated LinkedIn profile is incredibly important. It's the first place people typically go when you get referred to them, and it's where recruiters are always scouring for talent. 👀

Last week, we launched peer-to-peer LinkedIn reviews. And to kick it off, we asked the community for some tips on LinkedIn Dos and Don'ts.

Missed it? Hop into Slack (below) to check out advice from Aya, Michelle, Lia and Loren. 🌟

See the discussion

🪂 The Commons Events & Sprint Drops

Upcoming Commons events:

  • The Commons Summit: Business Teams in Tech | TONIGHT at 6PM EST | Secure your spot
  • In partnership with Startup Search, we're excited to share their upcoming webinar: Breaking into Product Management | July 14 @ 7PM EST | Secure your spot
  • The Commons Office Hours: Pivoting from Consulting to Tech | Monday July 18 @ 8PM EST | Secure your spot
  • The Commons Office Hours: Pivoting from Accounting to Tech | Tuesday July 19 @ 7:30PM EST  | Secure your spot

Recent past events - Community members, you can access the recordings on the platform:

  • Equity at Startups: Understanding & Evaluating Your Startup Equity

APPLY NOW - We're currently reviewing applications for the following Sprints:

  • 🚀 Core - starts July 25th
  • 🖥 Product - starts early August (an incredibly stacked roster of mentors from Uber, Tonal, Shopify, Spotify and more)


Your weekly level up ⏫

✏️ Practice Interview Question

Type: Hiring Screen
Question: What's your expected compensation?
What They're Testing For: Let's face it, the salary expectations question is always stressful. You never know if you're lowballing or overpricing yourself, but it gets asked in a ton of tech interviews so it's best to be prepared.

🌟 Tip: As shared by The Commons community, some potential strategies include:

  • Research: Be sure to research the position and current market trends before the interview. Understand what similar roles pay and what your value in the market is. Ask friends, Slack communities (like The Commons !) and be resourceful online. Keep in mind differences based on geography (i.e. the same role may pay higher in a specific city or country vs. another). Be sure to factor in all compensation elements like salary, equity, bonuses, benefits, stipends and other perks to get a full picture.
  • Range: Advice from a community member was "I give a number high enough that it makes me uncomfortable." - Luis, Core Sprint alum. Alternatively, you can provide a range and state that you're looking for a competitive rate reflective of your experience.
  • Redirect: If the above doesn't suit the situation or how you're feeling, the best 'generic answer' is to turn the question  back to the interviewer and ask them to share their range.

✅ Community Reccos

This week we're talking Podcasts! ⚡️Here are four (plus a bonus!) recommendations from the community:

How I Built This: A podcast about innovators, entrepreneurs, idealists and their stories about the movements they built. ➡️ Recommended by The Commons Head of Growth, Alex!
Revisionist History: Revisionist History is Malcolm Gladwell's journey through the overlooked and the misunderstood. Every episode re-examines something from the past—an event, a person, an idea, even a song—and asks whether we got it right the first time. ➡️ Recommended by Product Sprint mentor, Wafic!
Freakonomics: Discover the hidden side of everything with Stephen J. Dubner, co-author of the Freakonomics books. Each week, Freakonomics Radio tells you things you always thought you knew (but didn’t) and things you never thought you wanted to know (but do) — from the economics of sleep to how to become great at just about anything. ➡️ Also recommended by Product Sprint mentor, Wafic!
ZigZag by TED: ZigZag, the business show about being human. Dive into unusual dynamos reinventing business, their industries, and even capitalism in the name of humanity. ➡️ Recommended by community member, Caroline, "it's great for anyone in a career transition!"

Bonus: Want something light and fun? Check out SmartLess with Jason Bateman, Will Arnett and Sean Hayes. Zack, our very own engineer, shares why it's great: "The fun part is that the other two hosts don't know who the guest is going to be so it makes the episodes much less of an interview and more of a conversation."

💭 Thought Starter

Job postings often have many 'preferred qualifications' - one of which is often years of experience. Last week a community member posed this question to the community: "When job postings list the years of experience for ideal candidates, is this generally limited to years in tech roles or years in that particular tech role, or are related roles in other industries applicable?" The community's response:

  1. Generally, it's just years of experience unless otherwise specified. For example, in a BizOps role - four years of experience could mean in BizOps or similar, like an Ops role in an industry that isn't the exact same as what you're applying for. From a community member who was recently on a hiring panel at Uber - "For the Strategy & Operations roles where we were seeking four years of experience, we were largely looking for certain competencies and just generally four years of experience. Over the last few months that I was on the hiring panel, we hired individuals from analyst or ops roles in telecom, media, banking and consulting. They didn't need 4 years of experience in rideshare or even in tech."
  2. Apply anyway! If you're relatively close to the years of experience or if you think you have the relevant skillsets, always apply! Don't reject yourself from a role.
  3. And if you want a good laugh, check out this post that The Commons mentor, Shane, shared!

🧠 Brain Teaser

You need to measure out four gallons of water, but you only have a three-gallon jug and a five-gallon jug. How do you measure out four gallons exactly?

Check here for the answer!

💡Community Share

The Commons community is filled with tidbits of advice and interesting shares. In case you missed it, here's a popular share from last week 👇

Want to chat about The Commons?

Text us (yes, it's really us replying!): +1-416-619-9042
Jump on a call with us: schedule HERE

Interested in more?
The Commons Digest (03/09/2023)
The COmmons Insider Newsletter
The Commons Digest (03/09/2023)
The Commons Digest for 03/09/2023
The Commons Digest (03/01/2023)
The COmmons Insider Newsletter
The Commons Digest (03/01/2023)
The Commons Digest for 03/01/2023
The Commons Digest (02/22/2023)
The COmmons Insider Newsletter
The Commons Digest (02/22/2023)
The Commons Digest for 02/22/2023
Skillful is now The Commons.
We’re more than just skills training. We're the place where high achievers come to fulfill their career potential. We combine education, mentorship and community to empower the next generation of ambitious professionals to achieve their career goals.
The time to build the education institution of the future is now. And we're doing it.

Careers are catalyzed through skills-training, mentorship and a supportive network. At The Commons, we're delivering those critical career elements together through learning experiences that are social, mentorship-based and community-first.

Join to learn and stay for the community.