Tuesday, September 19, 2017

My standard spiel.

Job interviews are inherently stressful. The stakes are automatically high because getting a job is a life-changing event. And lots of interviewers seem to believe that the stress is somehow beneficial to the process, so they go out of their way to make things even more stressful.

I disagree. I find it counterproductive for both parties when the interviewer creates additional stress. It interferes with memory and reasoning skills, making it harder to answer questions.

That said, let me explain a few things:
  1. I am going to interrupt you. I interrupt everyone. It doesn't mean that things are going poorly. It's just that our time is finite. So don't let it bother you when I interrupt. It's totally normal.
  2. If something isn't totally clear, ask me to repeat the question or rephrase it. Make sure that you understand my questions. Sometimes I can misspeak, or choose the wrong words. Also, different companies can use different names to refer to the same things. It could be that I'm using an unfamiliar term for something that you know by a different name.
  3. You don't have to answer right away. It's okay to think before answering. And it's okay to pause in the middle of an answer. It's even okay to pause in the middle of a sentence. That's fine with me.
  4. If a better answer pops into your head later on, go ahead and tell me. We can rewind. We're humans. That's fine.
  5. Sometimes your best answer could actually be "I don't know." That's okay. I might be asking you a question that I don't expect you to be able to answer. I may just be trying to probe the perimeter of your knowledge. So don't worry if you don't know the answer to a question.
  6. I don't have a secret question which you must answer correctly. Some interviewers have a pet question that everyone has to get right. If you bomb on a question, don't worry. It's not a landmine.
  7. If I ask you to write code, you can do it either on the whiteboard or a piece of paper, whichever you want. You can use any programming language that you want. Don't worry about braces, or semicolons, or any other minor details that a competent IDE's static code analyzer would warn you about. You can even write pseudocode, or invent a new programming language. I just want to understand your program's logic.
  8. Every interview website suggests that you ask your interviewer questions to show interest. You don't have to do that. I don't care if you have questions. That being said, do you have any questions? This is not a trick.

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