I had a face to face interview in a company in the UK for a 'Senior Data engineer' position.

The interview consisted of a technical Q&A with Tech lead & a data engineer.

This happened after an initial conversational / technical call with the Hiring Manager, followed by a take home assignment. (almost 2 week ago)

The interview went well and the 3rd party recruiter told me that he would represent me for 70-80k as the job advertised and that's what he communicated to the hiring manager, when he was asked my salary expectations after the F2F.

But the recruiter got feedback from the hiring manager that 'they would be OK with hiring me for the mid level role instead of the senior role.' The reason being that he got feedback indicating I am not suited for a senior role since I don't have too much experience 'mentoring of juniors'. The recruiter said that maximum that they might be willing would be 65K .

Due to the nature of the conversation I had with the recruiter, he assumed that I was on the final round of interviews at a different firm for the same 70-80k for a similar role. Well its partly true, but the salary is lower & I didn't quite correct him.

The recruiter said to take a day to think this over, before proceeding further. He told me that the hiring manager said since I already have some final stage interviews lined up for 80K I might not choose his firm for this Mid level role.

I am in a dilemma due to the following:

  • I actually applied for this company's job advertisement of 'Junior to Mid-level data engineer (40-60k)' since I was getting rejected out of every senior data engineering profiles with the feedback that I lacked the experience or wasn't a good fit. Also since its been a 3 month long job search, honestly I was getting tired of the job search.

  • When the recruiter send my profile a month ago to the firm he upgraded my application to the 'senior role'. He said my resume matched the job description of the senior role more than the lower level roles. That is true, including things like 'mentoring juniors.' and since I had a total work experience of 6 years (with 4+ years in relevant technologies).

  • I might not have hit all the answers in the Q&A out of the park to be considered enough for the senior role. Things like scalability & choosing X over Y was very deeply discussed.

The dilemma

  • Should I take the offer for something reasonably round 65k for this job rather than negotiating for the title or a higher pay? Then may be try to transition in to the senior role?

Note :

  • I guess it would be hard to convince them that I am suited for the senior role, without going through another onsite round or hands-on coding interview.

  • The HM was kind of confused why the team didn't perform a coding exercise with me.

  • They said the take home assignment did give them the right answer, but it didn't show my 'software engineering skills'. This is true since the assignment question was a kind off a vague thought exercise to prove a hypothesis. I did it on a Jupyter notebook since they wanted to 'see my thought process & story telling skills' IMHO the question was mostly suited for a data scientist. They did acknowledge this fact during the F2F interview that the assignment question might not be adequate to judge anyone for this role.

  • Answers here kind of addresses my scenario, but not exactly.

  • They seem like a nice bunch of people, but only time will tell

  • They company hasn't made a formal offer via email, i am basing it off what the recruiter tells me. He earns commission, which would only differ by 1000K depending on my package being 75k or 65k.

  • Yes I know the interviewing process is screwed up everywhere

Update Just when I made up my mind to actually take up offer, the company tells the recruiter that they want to perform a hands-on coding round with me.

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    What's your minimum commitment if you take this role? It's about a wash after a year if you take a 65k role today vs. sit on the bench for another two months to land an 80k one, but you have to decide if you feel like gambling or if you'd feel that you've sold yourself short in accepting a role seemingly just above your original expectations after having had your sights raised substantially higher by this recruiter's initial not-entirely-informed feedback. – Chris Stratton Mar 7 '19 at 3:10
  • I feel that in the end this comes down a personal choice to take this offer or leave it and look for something better. What would a good answer to this question look like? – RemcoGerlich Mar 7 '19 at 10:57
  • @RemcoGerlich yes maybe. But it seems that the company isn't quite sure on their recruitment process since they want a round of hands-on coding as the last stage now. – James Mar 7 '19 at 11:00
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    Keep pursuing this, and keep pursuing other things as well. If this gets to the point of an offer first with nothing else also imminent, given the amount of time you've been out of the game and that you don't even presently know you'll be in that country in another year, there seems little reason not to take it. But that need not be the end of your story - when your career history is back on track, and when your visa situation is more permanent some of those other options may come through. Also consider the brexit debacle may change everything in unpredictable ways. – Chris Stratton Mar 7 '19 at 16:26
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    It may be worth negotiating a deal to skill you up on the things which they said you're lacking - junior mentoring. Since then you will be able to get the experience that they've mentioned you're lacking for a senior level position, brining you one step closer. Besides, if they do not eventually make you a senior, in the next interview for higher senior position you say that higher positions were unavailable at company x, which is better than saying that you haven't been hired for so long because you can't find a senior position - it puts doubt into your future applications. – Lukali Mar 8 '19 at 11:46

I see three things that happened about this particular role.

  • You originally applied for the role of for this company's job advertisement of Junior to Mid-level data engineer (40-60k)
  • The recruiter upgraded your application to the senior role
  • The company rejected you for the senior role for similar reasons other firms have rejected you, but offered you the original mid-level role for ~65K

If the recruiter hadn't upgraded your application, would you have accepted the role offered? It is at the upper end of that role's seniority and perhaps beyond in terms of salary so I assume you would. For the same reason there is unlikely to be much room for title or salary negotiation, but you can always ask.

More generally

I don't want to seem harsh, but you do come across as junior-mid level. 6 years' experience is not a lot considering a working life of over 40 years (assuming leaving university at 21 and retiring at 65) - you will need to hit it out of the park to make up for that. Despite having a former senior role, bear in mind that there is no fixed meaning of "senior engineer" so it is more about what the company is looking for. That firms are even considering you at all for these roles shows that you have promise, but ultimately you will be a gamble for them.

When firms hire, they typically look for someone who already has the level of experience, not to train someone up into that role. If they were looking to train someone up they can do so internally, and hire for the more junior role thus vacated, as it is typically easier to fill. This means the way to break into the next level up is usually by internal progression. Good firms recognise that people need growth (or else they leave) and so taking this role and looking to transition up should be what they expect you to do.

About the update

I would not read too much about the coding round. It suggests that they recognise that the (harsher) screening process for the senior role wasn't appropriate for the mid-level one. Considering you didn't actually do badly on your senior interview - just not stellar - they probably expect this to be a formality. It may simply be just that: a standard thing all mid-level applicants have to go through. Regardless, if you truly are ready for more senior responsibilities (your mentoring of juniors suggests you are already on your way, you just aren't there yet), then you should not sweat it.

Response to your answers in comments

You also need to consider your current employment status and the fact your other leads have gone silent. You can always keep looking for a senior role while working at this one, and earning a very decent salary while you do so. In fact, taking this role actually gives you more options towards a senior one as you have the internal route available. Factor in that it is easier to land a new role whilst employed than unemployed and it's a no-brainer.

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If what they got from you during their interviewing process doesn't fit with what they are looking for in a Senior Data Engineer, I doubt there is much more room for renegotiation.

Rather than renegotiating for the title or for a higher salary on a Mid-level role, I suggest going back to the other companies you have had interviews with. One of those may be open to negotiations for a higher salary.

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    The thing is I don't have any companies right now in final stage of interview right now. – James Mar 7 '19 at 2:27
  • I'm assuming you haven't completely turned the other companies down either, why not contact them again to continue negotiations? – Noir Antares Mar 7 '19 at 2:29
  • Yesterday I contacted the companies that I was supposed to move on to final stages of the interview with. Most them didn't respond with an update regarding final stage. (As in seemed to have ghosted me) The one that did respond said its going to take couple of weeks to get the interview arranged – James Mar 7 '19 at 2:34
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    Adding to @NoirAntares answer.Say if the company misjudged you during interview, say you join them and in 2-3 months, they might say "He is great with mid level role, lets put him in a senior position". I have seen many people get that by the end of probation. It is all about proving IF u want to go to go ahead. but Other might be true as well, opposite of what I said and they don't. so it comes down to you, by the end of the day we want be happy, and by the end of month have a pay which pays, bills, rent and save you u money. – user15704 Mar 7 '19 at 9:12
  • @cookieMonster yes your & NoirAntares Answers are pretty helpful. Let's see how the next round goes. – James Mar 7 '19 at 10:56

A possibility is that the company needed one senior and one mid level employee. They interviewed you and one other guy for the senior position. The other guy was just a little bit better, but they recognise that you are good, and offer the mid level position with a good salary, since they expect you to be better than the average person in that position.

In the end, you can try to negotiate a slightly higher salary, and then you have to decide if it is enough for you or not. The senior role is most likely going to someone else, so you won't get that.

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  • This is possible but, I got the feedback regarding the role change withing an hour after the interview. Considering the fact that mine was a late afternoon interview, I am not sure how its possible. – James Mar 7 '19 at 14:39

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