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I have been a developer for a number of years. I have always worked in small teams, and never had the chance to work as part of a bigger team. Due to this, I find myself at a major disadvantage when I apply for jobs that mention agile. However, the way I see it, the business problem I have to solve technically is no different.

Why do companies consider it so important to have experience working as part of a bigger team? How can I address this concern in the interview?

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    Agile teams are (done right) are always small teams large projects typically will have several smaller teams. Have you had feedback to this effect you think is happening – Neuromancer Feb 27 '18 at 22:53
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    It would help if you would define "small" and "big". – Nathan Cooper Feb 28 '18 at 0:23
  • You beat me to it (+1). I think that the biggest s/w development team I ever worked in was bout 11. Generally, it tends to be 7 or 8. Coincidentally, we got a new s/w manager recently & yesterday he announced a reorg saying that in future all s/w teams will have 4 to 7 members. I would like to know what the OP considers small & large. Without that, I feel that we can't really help – Mawg Feb 28 '18 at 7:26
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Why do companies consider it so important to have experience working as part of a bigger team?

You are assuming here. Companies (especially Agile teams) care mainly about:

  • if you have the proper technical skills

  • if you are a good team player

  • if you are transparent

  • and if you deliver high quality work

And you don't have to be worked with big teams to have all the above.

A little agile background for you case:

They probably "care" because they are looking for a cross-functional group of people working together. Agile is being flexible and updated/updating at all times. In agile teams, you won't be responsible for one feature(or product) and handle only those customers requests and/or bug fixing - which happens usually within small companies/teams.

How can I address this concern in the interview?

It is not hard at all to learn how agile process works and get yourself familiar with it. I had 5 jobs in my life and first 4 jobs were within small companies/teams. This one is the first agile team job (25+ developers total, 4 agile teams). I got in by Educating myself so I was able show that I know the process, and I showed interest to work within such a team and that I would love to help/get help on daily basis, report my status on daily basis and demonstrate my work every sprint (agile term - specific period of time).

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I would like to know what you consider to be small & large. Without that, I feel that we can't really help

After a few (cough) decades in real-time embedded development the biggest s/w development team I ever worked in was about 11, IIRC. Generally, it tends to be 7 or 8.

Coincidentally, we got a new s/w manager recently & yesterday he announced a reorg saying that in future all s/w teams will have 4 to 7 members.

I think that when it gets above 10, it gets to be unwieldy and naturally breaks down into sub-teams anyway.

Are you talking about small projects, rather than teams?

There are 8 of us on s/w development at the moment, but I have daily interactions with systems engineering, the project & the s/w architects, the firmware/hardware guys and the verification team.

We are probably between 40 & 60 in total on the project - could that be what you are talking about? I am afraid that, much as I would like to help you, your question is not very clear.

(posted as answer, rather than comment, due to length. I will update to a true answer if the OP clarifies)

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Is it possible you're conflating large companies and agile? Some larger companies are a little more literal in their requirements whether it is due to them being more selective or they sometimes have people involved in the early stages of hiring who don't really understand technical requirements.

If you don't have experience in an agile environment, they may prefer hiring people who do. There may be concern about you not having experience on an agile team. It can be a controversial topic. Developers either love it or hate it. They may be assuming you've tried to avoid it in your career.

Unless you start interviewing with smaller and or non-agile companies, it is difficult to determine what he problem is.

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What i did few years back, was, taking two Agile classes online and getting a PRINCE2 Fundamentals certification (classroom study).

it was not too expensive and only cost me net 8 days.

The certification shows not just the actual knowledge you have gained in the area, but also, that you have identified an potential issue with your professional skillset and proactively addressed it on your own.

If you serious about getting in the big development teams, perhaps it can help. Maybe the study will give you a "leg-up" for some positions available there.

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Since it is a software development job, I would recommend to actively participate to some existing free software project (perhaps on your spare time).

If you actively contribute to some quite large open source project (think of something with a million lines of source code), it has a large team of contributors and you'll learn a lot by working on that project.

But it is really difficult. You could use some Linux distribution and choose some large software there (e.g. Libreoffice, Qt, GTK, GCC, ...). You may need several months of work before having your first (small) patch accepted!

If you are unfamiliar with free software development, I would recommend to start first to contribute to some smaller open source project (e.g. a few hundred thousand lines, just a dozen of active developers). You'll find many of them (e.g. on github). Choose the one you are interested in.

You'll learn a lot of things (both technically and socially) by actively contributing to some free software project. And prospective employers would notice you.

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