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Ask Slashdot: Re-Learning How To Interview As a Developer?

timothy posted about 10 months ago | from the I'm-a-people-person! dept.

Businesses 218

An anonymous reader writes "Earlier in my career, when I switched jobs every year or so, I was pretty good at interviewing. I got offers about 75% of the time if I got to a in person. But times have changed... my last 2 jobs have been, longer term gigs.. 5 and 3 years respectively, and I am way out of practice. My resume often gets me the phone interview and I am actually really good at the phone screen.. I am 12 for 12 in the last 6 months phone screen to in person interview. It is the in person interview where I am really having issues. I think I come off wrong or something.. I usually get most of the technical questions, but I am not doing something right because I don't come off very likeable or something. It is hard to get very much feedback to know exactly what I am doing wrong. I have always gotten very good performance reviews and I am well liked at work, but if there is one area for improvement on my reviews it has always been communication. So I ask, can anyone give out some advice, I have tried toastmasters a few times, but does anyone have other tips or ideas? Has anyone else had a similar experiences?"

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Maybe it's not you (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46551613)

Maybe it's not about you, but that the job market isn't flourishing that much anymore.

Re:Maybe it's not you (-1, Redundant)

flyneye (84093) | about 10 months ago | (#46551999)

On the other hand , FLOSS, BRUSH,RINSE,REPEAT.
You might have some geek-stink-breath-halitosis-garlic thing goin on, or that white gunk that gets built up from cheesy fish.

          (Hey somebody had to say it, cause the elephant in the room smells like elephant shit.)

Re:Maybe it's not you (2, Insightful)

Bite The Pillow (3087109) | about 10 months ago | (#46552429)

Or maybe it is you. 10+ years in, you made it 5 years at a single place. I don't see commitment. If you were younger and cheaper I might not care. Now I do.
Based only on what you said, I would interview you but take someone else unless you were a perfect fit.
There is a lot I don't know, and no one here is going to tell you anything you don't already know, except that you're asking the wrong people. People are too polite to give you a real reason, especially if it was just a gut reaction.

Turn to networking, where you know someone inside who can fight for you, and explain what happened. Even if you don't want the job. Because having a mole is your only hope now.

Re: Maybe it's not you (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46552483)

I think the issue though is that if you require a perfect fit, then why continue past the phone screen? You have their resume at that point.

Re:Maybe it's not you (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46552903)

What "Bite the Pillow" said. 3 and 5 years is not a long commitment when you consider that an employer probably spends a year getting you up to speed. That translates to 2 and 4 years.

I'm in my 50s and I find that more and more companies are look at me for how I interact and fit with a team. Maybe it's due to my tenure as a programmer. That, as you pointed out, might be your problem. No one questions your ability since you've got probably ten or more years in as a developer. The phone interviews kind of prove that.

When I get a personal interview, I generally start by telling them "a bad fit is worse than no fit." In other words, I don't want to work where I'm not a good fit either. It kind of puts them on notice that the interview is a two way street. I'm just as likely to turn them down as they are to turn me down. When you say something like this, be positive not arrogant.

Secondly, you have to realize you don't know everything. More than likely you'll be interviewing with your peers, who have to live with you day-in and day-out. I've interviewed candidates and the one thing I cannot stand is when someone considers themselves the "second coming of Christ" when it comes to coding. Unless the company is truly fecked up, realize that they've probably been in business longer than you've been coding and their IT has been doing a good job. Respect that. Show that not only can you teach, but you can always find something to learn.

Seriously, treat the interview as a learning experience. Learn what people are doing and what they look for in an employee. It makes the interview go fast and fun. If time flies, people find you interesting and are more likely to hire you.

Finally, thank them. Send them an email afterward if possible. They thought enough about you to pay people to talk to you. They should appreciate that you took time to, but don't expect it. Be the mature gracious one.

Re: Maybe it's not you (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46552435)

It's this. Just landed a job. I think we should start billing companies who bring us in for an on-site but don't hire us since I have to ask why I should waste my time and money driving in when my odds of getting the position are bad in the first place? At the least I would require seeing how many other candidates they are interviewing first.

Re: Maybe it's not you (5, Insightful)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 10 months ago | (#46552495)

Don't ever bother with jobs that have long, very specific skill lists. Those are always already filled, they are just HR jackasses wasting your time back-filling their hiring process.

There is no fixing it. They are not about to fess up that they intend to waste your time.

They have pissed me off to the point that I submitted bogus apps and made appointments I knew I would never show for. Just to return the favor with lots of interest. Had time on my hands. In the end I let them know why I was wasting their time, not who I actually was.

If everybody who had the time, submitted a bogus app to these bastards every time they do this bullshit, we could put them out of business. Now that I think about it, I might setup a website to help. Submit your HR drone being an asshole leads, or submit your bogus application package to one (or more) leads others have found. We could drown the BS artists in crap.

Re:Maybe it's not you (1)

davester666 (731373) | about 10 months ago | (#46552751)

Yes, emigrate to India, then apply for an H1B back in the US for 1/2 your salary. You won't believe how many job offers you will have.

don't try for H1B jobs where the person is for sho (2)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 10 months ago | (#46551615)

don't try for H1B jobs where the person is for show and you have no hope of getting the job.

Re:don't try for H1B jobs where the person is for (1)

David_Hart (1184661) | about 10 months ago | (#46552289)

don't try for H1B jobs where the person is for show and you have no hope of getting the job.

For those that don't know yet, H1B jobs are the job ads that largely appear in tech journals or on tech journal web sites.

Eyes (0)

michaelmalak (91262) | about 10 months ago | (#46551625)

Make eye contact with the interviewers, but then they might notice your crows feet, which could be the real problem.

Not trolling (2)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46551627)

but it might help to improve your English.

Listen (4, Insightful)

pem (1013437) | about 10 months ago | (#46551629)

Too often, people overcommunicate.

Listen and watch. If you are answering the question you thought they asked, instead of the question they thought they asked, they will probably be somewhat annoyed.

Try to pick up on that, and either figure out what they were asking, or ask for clarification. Let them get in a few words, too.

You're getting old? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46551637)

Sounds more like the proverbial age discrimination that exists in the tech world.

Resume - great; phone interview - great; but then the interviewers get one look at you...

Re:You're getting old? (5, Interesting)

leptons (891340) | about 10 months ago | (#46551969)

I had to dye my hair for the first time ever during my recent job search, because I was being interviewed by 20-something and they aren't as likely to hire someone in their 40s if they look like they are in their 40s.

There is a misconception in the industry that younger == better, but nothing could be further from the truth. The younger ones invariably cause many problems by making mistakes that more experienced people have already made and know to avoid.

I will by dying my hair again only if/when I need to look for another job.

Re:You're getting old? (-1)

flyingfsck (986395) | about 10 months ago | (#46552131)

Dyeing your hair is probably the most important advice! However, once you are in your 50s, you should not be doing coding anymore, you should be applying for management positions and then grey matter actually helps.

Re:You're getting old? (5, Insightful)

Chrisq (894406) | about 10 months ago | (#46552185)

However, once you are in your 50s, you should not be doing coding anymore, you should be applying for management positions and then grey matter actually helps.

We have a couple of great programmers in their 50s, one of whom is soon to reach his 60th. Not everyone wants to become a manager - and not every programmer will make a good manager.

Re:You're getting old? (1)

bearinboots (743355) | about 10 months ago | (#46552771)

Fuck that shit. Been there done that. Come back when you are in your 50's little boy and we'll talk.

Re:You're getting old? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46553111)

I'm 44, and have absolutely no intention of ever going back into management.

Been there, done that (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46552933)

After programming for just shy of twenty years I got the opportunity to get into management. I was good at it, which both the management above me as the people below me attested to. Still, I hated it.

Management is a weird job. All day you get to deal with whiny people. Some are your boss, some are people you try to lead. And no matter how you do things, some are unhappy.

I'm back in development. I program things. I'm much, much happier now. Even considering the pay cut and the lack of perks, I'm much more happy developing software then managing people.

In fact, I hope to reach my pension doing software development. I can solve complex technical issues, I'm not at all prepared to solve human issues.

Re:You're getting old? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46552975)

You do realize that grey matter is brian tissue, not hair, yes?

Re:You're getting old? (4, Insightful)

davester666 (731373) | about 10 months ago | (#46552769)

they know younger isn't better. but they know they can get young people to work crazy hours for no extra pay. Older people know it's a scam just to get free labor.

Re:You're getting old? (1)

asmkm22 (1902712) | about 10 months ago | (#46553019)

My experience must be unique then. I started losing my hair in my early twenties, so I've always looked about 10 years older than I am. Dying it was obviously not a solution. Still, I did OK with job interviews and never really had an issue getting jobs. Now that I have my own business, I still do OK getting new clients.

Age discrimination definitely exists, but I don't think it's across the board. As an employer, I'm far more put off by other things, like bad breath, horribly fucked up teeth, wrinkled clothing, stale cigarette smoke (or heavy menthol smell), or way too much cologne/perfume. For women, excessively revealing clothing is also annoying to see at an interview, because it comes off as tacky, and cheapens her value to me.

You're Old (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46551643)

The problem is that when you're there in person they see that you are not in your 20s and that you probably won't unhesitatingly work 70+ hour weeks in exchange for having access to an in-office foosball table. You probably have certain expectations regarding benefits, 401(k) funding, and taking time off for family emergencies. You might not be the sort of person who takes being managed by someone younger than you well. Thanks for coming, we'll call you back if we have any more questions.

Age discrimination is real.

Re:You're Old (2)

leptons (891340) | about 10 months ago | (#46552023)

I really wouldn't want to work somewhere that has 20 year olds doing interviews. A 20-something "senior engineer" is a fallacy they are what "expert beginners" and they often make mistakes someone with more experience will not make, and that includes the hiring process.

I've been shown the door in an interview by 20-somethings after not answering their vague questions exactly the way they wanted them answered. My current company gave me the highest marks they've ever given an employee and they've been around 15 years. They have experienced people giving interviews and performance reviews.

But isn't it also age discrimination not wanting to work with 20-something "senior engineers" or worse, 20-something CTOs who will be your superior when you have 30 years of experience?

Re:You're Old (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46552679)

But isn't it also age discrimination not wanting to work with 20-something "senior engineers" or worse, 20-something CTOs who will be your superior when you have 30 years of experience?


there's a difference between not wanting to work with unqualified people, and not wanting to work with a qualified person who happens to be old. this is no different than sexism or any other -ism. the judgment is based on a non-sequitur.

Act Natural (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46551645)

As cliché as it sounds, you probably don't want to work somewhere that requires a whole dog and pony show.

ChipWhisperer: An Open-Source Platform for Hardwar (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46551661)

ChipWhisperer: An Open-Source Platform for Hardware Embedded Security Research

- Document (PDF): http://cryptome.org/2014/03/ch... [cryptome.org]
- View PDF online: http://view.samurajdata.se/ [samurajdata.se]

Partial quote from 1st page (1/18):

"This paper introduces a complete side channel analysis toolbox inclusive of the analog capture hardware, target device, capture software, and analysis software. The highly modular design allows use of the hardware and software with a variety of existing systems. The hardware uses a synchronous capture method which greatly reduces the required sample rate, while also reducing the data storage requirement and improving synchronization of traces. The synchronous nature of the hardware lends itself to fault injection, and a module to generate glitches of programmable width is also provided. The entire design (hardware and software) is open-source, and maintained in a publicly available repository. Several long example capture traces are provided for researchers looking to evaluate standard cryptographic implementations."

Keywords: side-channel analysis, acquisition, synchronization, FPGA

Over the hill (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46551671)

I read about age bias in IT kicking at about age 35 all the time now. Are over the hill?

Drink more. (2, Insightful)

fatgraham (307614) | about 10 months ago | (#46551679)

I don't know how friendly and open you are, anonymous person, but I've done pretty well in my last couple of interviews; Accepted immediately, first (face-to-face) interview.
Prior to those last two jobs, I hadn't had an interview for 8 years. It took me 12 interviews before I managed to get a job.

Basically, be more friendly, relaxed and relatable. Complain a bit about previous employers and how this new job will fix those problems (you may have to use your imagination), everyone has problems. A lot of the time, what puts perfect candidate A before candidate B is that "they could have a beer with them". Nobody wants to hire someone they're not gonna enjoy having around the office.

Since drinking heavily, I'm a lot more approachable, and apparently, a lot more employable.

Hope this *hic* helps.

Re:Drink more. (5, Funny)

mjr167 (2477430) | about 10 months ago | (#46551857)

I once interviewed a guy who complained that he almost didn't make the interview cause he was still hung over from last night...

We didn't hire him.

Re:Drink more. (4, Interesting)

Magnus Pym (237274) | about 10 months ago | (#46551911)

Likeable is good, but complaining about past employers is a TERRIBLE idea. It is very very hard to do this without coming across as a whiner. Most interviewers immediately pick up on the implied negativity. `You are complaining about them today, you will surely complain about us tomorrow'.

Project positivity. You are not running away from anything. You are running towards something... the new job. Employers don't necessarily want to pick up and be saddled with orphans, refugees or the weak. They want healthy, well-adjusted individuals who can stand on their own feet and be productive.

Also, note that interviewing has changed over the past few years. Behavioral interviewing is all the rage, led by a few large, successful companies. In this situation, candidates are asked to describe specific things that happened to them in past jobs (or specific problems they have worked on), and the interviewer tries to get a feel for how the candidate behaved in that situation (overcoming adversity, dealing with ambiguity, working on seemingly intractable problems), and to extrapolate to how the candidate would behave in similar situations in future. If you really are experienced, you probably have a number of examples like this from your past. Research a few large companies (Google, MSFT, Amazon), they are very open about their interviewing strategies and the qualities they expect from an employee. Keep a few examples of behavior polished and ready.

And good luck!

Re:Drink more. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46552701)

I got a tech job with Google. There were no behavioral questions. In fact, there were nothing but technical questions.

Re:Drink more. (2)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about 10 months ago | (#46552057)

Complaining about previous employers is usually frowned upon.
That only makes sense if they have your cv in front and one of the interviewers mentions a particular employer and/or project and admits he had worked there as well (and left for 'bad reasons').

Loner syndrome (2, Insightful)

hessian (467078) | about 10 months ago | (#46551701)

To employers, it's of secondary concern that you're more competent than the other guy.

Primary concern is whether you can be a cog, e.g. will you get along with other team members (which they translate into "enthusiastic, cheerful and forgiving") and will you be able to understand, cooperate with and stay out of the way of your superiors. A big part of this is trying to avoid hiring an employee who also creates problems in addition to doing his/her job.

I suggest thinking vapid and friendly, like a labrador retriever, when you go into a job interview.

Re:Loner syndrome (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 10 months ago | (#46551989)

I suggest sending the Labrador Retriever to the interview.

Re:Loner syndrome (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46552053)

Screw tech, have you considered a job as a dog whisperer?

Re:Loner syndrome (5, Funny)

hoggoth (414195) | about 10 months ago | (#46552065)

>I suggest thinking vapid and friendly, like a labrador retriever, when you go into a job interview.

"Yes, I can write threaded code involving.... SQUIRREL!"

Re:Loner syndrome (1)

AlphaBro (2809233) | about 10 months ago | (#46552171)

I can play this game, but god do I hate it. This sort of mentality creates environments where mediocre (or outright damaging) employees thrive, because everyone is too thin skinned to handle reasonable criticism without creating a massive upheaval. Getting along takes precedence over actual job performance, and the workplace transforms into a giant adult daycare. This effect is most pronounced in larger companies that can absorb the cost of useless teams that would yield nothing if not for the efforts of a few members.

You're absolutely right (1)

hessian (467078) | about 10 months ago | (#46552285)

This sort of mentality creates environments where mediocre (or outright damaging) employees thrive, because everyone is too thin skinned to handle reasonable criticism without creating a massive upheaval. Getting along takes precedence over actual job performance, and the workplace transforms into a giant adult daycare.

I just quoted that because it's true. It should probably be cut 'n' pasted a few dozen more times for effect, maybe in bold 24pt Times New Roman with a red shadow effect.

However, I can see their perspective too. They're trying to cut out the antisocial types who are a drag and can often be little saboteurs in the midst of otherwise normally functioning employees.

Those types do exist and they're extremely toxic.

On the other hand, too much labrador and you do have the day care mentality you describe, which is usually a sign that nothing will get done and yet everyone will stay "work" 60 hour weeks to prove how cool they are.

You might just bring this up with the interviewer. Tell them you have a positive work outlook, and like socializing with other people, but you don't like adult daycare and if that's what they're looking for, you're not interested. You'll get some interesting (and not all unfavorable) replies. If you do get an angry reply, you've found Douchebag, Inc. and you don't want to work there anyway.

Be engaging (4, Insightful)

loupgarou21 (597877) | about 10 months ago | (#46551727)

I typically get job offers from almost all of my in-person interviews. What works for me is being very engaging in the interview. Appear genuinely interested in the company. Don't wait for the "do you have any questions for us" part of the interview before asking questions, ask questions throughout the entire interview. Ask questions about the corporate culture, ask questions about their internal workflow, ask questions about parts of the company other than the one you'll be working in.

Also, come off as very human during the interview, especially when they ask you about yourself. When they ask you about yourself, don't just rehash your resume, they can read that for themselves. Instead, talk about your interests, your hobbies, your life. "Well, I've been a programmer for 13 years, I have a BS in computer science from the U of M, I've been married for 3 years, I play softball and pain miniatures."

The interview is way less about them gauging your technical ability, and way more about showing your interest in the company and how you will fit in with their current team.

Yes, be prepared for the technical questions too, but that's really the minor stuff

Re:Be engaging (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46551923)

"Well, I've been a programmer for 13 years, I have a BS in computer science from the U of M, I've been married for 3 years, I play softball and pain miniatures."

You had me until "pain miniatures". I don't know what that means but I'd rather not find out, no matter how qualified you are for the job.

Re:Be engaging (1)

ThatAblaze (1723456) | about 10 months ago | (#46552329)

You had me until "pain miniatures". I don't know what that means but I'd rather not find out, no matter how qualified you are for the job.

I took it to mean that the OP has a sticky "t" key, and was intending to say "paint".

Re:Be engaging (1)

AlphaBro (2809233) | about 10 months ago | (#46552189)

Sounds more like a dating ad than something I'd want to hear during an interview.

Re:Be engaging (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46552617)

This isn't horrible advice, but sometimes it can feel uncomfortable when interviewing a candidate when they get into areas I legally can't ask about or find irrelevant.

For example, I interviewed someone for a position a few months back that went into great detail about his involvement with his church. Part of it was relevant because he had done some programming for the church in regard to tracking software for choir music and other related things.

The other person that I was interviewing with was rather religious so it was possibly a win on that side but I was kicked out of church for marrying my wife years ago and it's a sore spot with me. I tried not to hold it against the guy, and there were other issues but honestly if he had been tied with another candidate I probably would go with the other person so I don't have to talk about church on a daily basis in the workplace.

Call them back (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46551747)

Call them the next day. Thank them for the interview and let them know you look forward to hearing from them.

This has a couple of benefits.

A) It lets them know you're really interested in the position.

B) It gives you the opportunity to possibly get some feedback.

Ask questions during the interview, be interested in what Tech Stack & Tools they're using and what their dev process is (What's the product? What is there to do on it? What IDE do they use? Do they do Agile Development? What Sprint Length? What SCM do they use? Do they do CI? etc..). One of the things I've learned from Project Leads & Managers is that people who seem genuinely interested in the product, the tools, and the team are the ones that usually rise to the top of the lists.

Network. Network. Network. You never know when you'll need to call up that guy you worked with 5 years ago to see if they're hiring. This has saved my job several times. Project A ends and I'm on the chopping block to be laid off, but then a manager I worked with a couple years earlier hears I'm available and boom... new job working Project B...

Re:Call them back (1)

sdoca (1225022) | about 10 months ago | (#46552527)

Also, call back if you didn't get the job and ask why you didn't (in a polite way). I had a friend just go through a tough time finding another job (not tech related) and for the interviews where she didn't receive an offer she called and asked what she could improve on, whether that be job skills, experience or personal. She got a lot of good feedback.

Interview the interviewer (1)

wiredlogic (135348) | about 10 months ago | (#46551763)

I like to ask probing questions to get a feel for what the work environment is like, the stability of the business, and other peripheral topics not directly related to the specific job opening. Take the mindset of being the one evaluating them to see if they will be a suitable employer.

Re:Interview the interviewer (1)

ThatAblaze (1723456) | about 10 months ago | (#46552377)

Yes, I often enjoy turning the tables on a bad interviewer. The funny thing is that on the somewhat rare occasions in which I decided I really didn't want this job and would rather tank the interview they have always seemed the most interested.

If anyone is having trouble finding a job, try making as many social mistakes (as in non-technical) as you can. Show up a little late, question their authority, ask for extra time off during the interview. I think you'll find it a very enlightening experience.

Most likely... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46551769)

...you got fat.

Re:Most likely... (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about 10 months ago | (#46551913)

+1 grain of truth. it's kinda like ageism but not really. I have the most success when I do my best to make myself look fit, healthy, and fashionable (in a way that is appropriate for the setting). If I were a male model who could code I could get any job I wanted. It's not discrimination per se, it's just that we've been all trained to like pretty people and pretty things.

Re:Most likely... (2)

AlphaBro (2809233) | about 10 months ago | (#46552213)

This is the truth. Apart from aesthetics, physique tends to say a lot about motivation, determination, etc. Plus, exercise puts your head in a better place.

How old are you? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46551773)

Ageism is rampant in tech. It may just be that they are looking for someone younger/cheaper.

Basci inerview tips (1)

denisbergeron (197036) | about 10 months ago | (#46551779)

Dress as a CEO
Cut your hair and shave your beard
empathie with the people in front of you
you are there to make them feel you the right one

Re:Basci inerview tips (1)

presidenteloco (659168) | about 10 months ago | (#46551855)

I am probably not going to hire as a developer someone who dresses like a CEO. More likely I will think "compensating-for-lack-of-ability pretentious person - warning - warning"

Re:Basci inerview tips (1)

Creepy (93888) | about 10 months ago | (#46552399)

Heh, my first programmer job interview was the opposite - long scraggly hair and (at least reasonably trimmed around that time) beard and a fitted, tailored suit. The suit and neat(er) beard were because I was playing cello professionally at weddings prior to graduating (and I tucked my hair under a hat, just like in the song Signs).

Incidentally, I get knocked for communication too, usually for some incident in the systems engineering part of my job. Usually my manager contacts me and says "why is system A down?" and I say "It was up this morning" and then she says "Bob says A is down, we can't get any work done! System A can't be down." Five minutes later "OK, I fixed it, server crash" and my boss says "You need to communicate when System A is down better." I want to reply "I didn't know system A was down until you fucking called me" but I reply more humanely. When it comes to review time, I get docked on it anyway :P

Re: Basci inerview tips (3, Insightful)

Kiffer (206134) | about 10 months ago | (#46552987)

... if someone tells you something is broken don't tell them that it was working earlier, say "I'll find out what's happening and get back to you ASAP" and maybe something like "... I should have been notified if it was a server crash, hopefully it's not too serious and we can get everything back in order a soon as possible, to minimise the downtime".

Never tell someone who comes to you with a problem that there is/was no problem.

Re:Basci inerview tips (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46552357)

The strangest interview I had was when I did not suit-up. I was helping a friend build an addition and toward end-of day got a call from the potential job to see if I could show up in twenty minutes, the boss wanted to finish up interviews instead of waiting for next week which would have been my interview day. I rushed over still in my ripped muddy jeans, dirty tee, muddy boots and forgot to remove my tool belt. Figuring there was no-way I would get the job, we joked, talked about many things, went out for a beer and got the IT job. Stayed on that job for ten years !

Re:Basci inerview tips (1)

tjb (226873) | about 10 months ago | (#46552867)

Yikes! No!

Well, ok, that may fly in other places, I guess, but in Silicon Valley anything fancier than business casual is not going to work in your favor during an interview. Hell, when you interview at Apple they explicitly tell you not to wear a suit.

Look nice and all, but dress appropriately for where you are interviewing. Maybe "dress like the company's CEO" is better advice, so put that hoodie on when you interview at Facebook.

Ask for feedback (4, Informative)

cjeze (596987) | about 10 months ago | (#46551781)

What I always do is to ask for feedback after they decided not to hire me, or if I don't hear from them within a week.

What was it that decided against me, what could I have done differently.

Ask kindly and explain to them you want this information so that you can improve your own interview process. This worked very well for me, especially when it wasn't obvious why I didn't get the job. One time I did this I was even offered a job just because they had forgotten about me.

Also. Always look for jobs. It is never illoyal to go on interviews, just don't lie or take a sick day, plan for it. I am always on the watch for the dream job and everybody should too. Going on job interviews has many benefits, particularly you get to find out what you're worth, and if you get a good offer you can use it as leverage next when discussing your current salary :)

Re:Ask for feedback (2)

Chrisq (894406) | about 10 months ago | (#46552221)

What I always do is to ask for feedback after they decided not to hire me, or if I don't hear from them within a week.

What was it that decided against me, what could I have done differently.

Ask kindly and explain to them you want this information so that you can improve your own interview process. This worked very well for me, especially when it wasn't obvious why I didn't get the job.

This is great advice. I know someone who did this and was told (quite reasonably) that they hadn't done anything wrong it was just that they had someone who fitted the profile slightly better. They then asked if he'd like to be put on a list of people to be contacted should any other offers arrive (something that was never mentioned before). Three months later he was told that the same position was vacant again, interviewed, and given the job.

your personality, over the internet? (1)

whistlingtony (691548) | about 10 months ago | (#46551791)

You're asking us about your personality, over the internet? Uhm. That doesn't work... My advice? Don't ask us, you'll get generic advice. Go spend a few hundred bucks and see a therapist, just in case. If the concept of therapy bugs you, call it professional outside perspective. Their whole job is reading people and digging at the underlying issues...

Maybe ... (2)

lrichardson (220639) | about 10 months ago | (#46551811)

It's not you.

I've had some odd interviews over the years. One in which the head of IT was a Luddite - and proud of it. One in which the phone and HR interviews went well, but the interview with the manager left me wondering if she had psychological problems ... later, from my headhunter, I learned her sister was going though a very bad breakup, including stalking, and I was very similar to the ex.

And, of course, sometimes the interview is for show. They've got someone they want, but have to keep HR happy, and demonstrate they considered other candidates.

My best advice is a) research the company/position, b) be honest, and c) try and be positive. Note that 'being honest' doesn't preclude omitting horrendous things. e.g. "I made an internal transfer as soon as I realized my boss was a lying, backstabbing hypocritical s.o.b., and was much happier with my new position." can be reworded as "I made an internal transfer, after achieving some great things in my first position, because the new job offered more opportunities for professional development."

Ditto, ditto (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46551815)

Possibly it's ageism. I'm turning 38 in a few days. But I haven't actually tried to change jobs for about 3 years now, because I like where I am.

The one exception to that was when I interviewed for Amazon about a year ago, in their Cape Town office. I was rejected, and I think it's probably because I have 25 years experience. (not a typo, I was doing contract development before I left high school.) Also possibly I was perceived as being inflexible: I don't much like unit tests, over-engineering (like the excessive use of dependency injection that's been fadding for a couple of years), or web development in general (it's really messy). I prefer high-octane c++ engineering, funky algorithms, and generally doing cool stuff. Amazon doesn't really do cool stuff, and they don't like maverick programmers. To be honest I didn't really want the job, and in retrospect I'm so glad I didn't go to work there.

Practice and Study (1)

yrogerg (858571) | about 10 months ago | (#46551825)

A couple of tips: 1) When you leave an interview, spend some time immediately after and write down the questions they asked and give yourself an honest evaluation of how you answered them. What did you miss? What could you have said better? 2) Before you go to the interview, do a search for "behavioral interview questions" and pick several different topics. Come up with good answers to those questions. Use the "STAR" response (Situation/Task, Actions, Results) and really plan out your answers 3) This sort of goes hand in hand with #2, but think of your top achievements. Make a list of great things that you did as they relate to communication, managing a project, leading a team, etc. etc. You know what kind of job you're applying for, plan for the interview and have your stories ready to go. They're not going to ask those exact questions, but if you have a list of possible answers, you'll at least nail some of the questions.

Ask (1)

zoward (188110) | about 10 months ago | (#46551829)

You shouldn't be asking Slashdot why you're not interviewing well, you should be asking the people who didn't hire you. When you get the phone call saying "no thanks", ask them why you weren't hired. You'll probably get a non-committal answer from most, but there are some will tell you what they think you did wrong.

Good luck.

Smile, semi-relax your posture, have eye contact (3, Insightful)

presidenteloco (659168) | about 10 months ago | (#46551839)

Read up on defensive or aggressive versus relaxed/friendly postures (position of arms, leaning too far forward or back etc).

Also, actively listen, and try to understand what is behind some of the questions they ask. Make sure your more opinionated answers are not the kind that risk offending someone who is in the room.

Oh, and as toastmasters probably taught you, avoid saying ummm ahhhh, and keep your answers brief and to the point.

Nice post (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46551871)

Thanks for sharing such a great information http://www.theteknews.com/

book (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 10 months ago | (#46551919)

Read "What Color Is Your Parachute." The author lists several particular problems you might be having with interviews (do you pick your nose? do you smell funny?), and also discusses how to analyze what went wrong in the interview.

If the problem really is lousy interpersonal skills, that can be improved.

Simple: They want a young slave. You ain't it. (2)

pla (258480) | about 10 months ago | (#46551929)

Two things.

First, don't make the mistake of pushing off discussion of salary to the end of the process - Check the price range they want to pay right up front, before you even waste your time with an in-person interview. It doesn't matter if the job listing describes a senior software architect with a combination of skills that would easily take 20 years to master - If they want to pay intern's wages, they don't want you.

Second, you got old. It happens. We can, however, take a tip from our better halves (presuming you as male) to partially remediate that on a temporary basis. Dye your hair, dress considerably little less formally than you learned to do decades ago (if you can't stand the idea of going to an interview without a suit, at least go for a colored, relaxed-fit sport coat rather than the good old standby of black or charcoal), and you might even consider letting the missus help you with just a hint of makeup (don't worry, it won't stick out unless done horribly - Many younger guys have actually started wearing makeup regularly).

Once your coworkers see you in action, your skills matter more than your age. But that requires getting in the door first.

Re:Simple: They want a young slave. You ain't it. (3, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 10 months ago | (#46552031)

Now this is a post that I never thought I'd see on Slashdot.

Somebody, in all seriousness, suggesting that someone wear makeup.

Would that Commander Taco see this.....

Re:Simple: They want a young slave. You ain't it. (1)

ThatAblaze (1723456) | about 10 months ago | (#46552623)

The only young guys I've ever seen wearing makeup are actors.. or it's Halloween.

That said, competently applied makeup is difficult to spot, and the interviewer is probably not expecting it. People usually don't notice things they don't expect.

At least (1)

oldhack (1037484) | about 10 months ago | (#46551955)

At least you're asking, and I suppose that's a start. Ask your colleagues, friends, and family. You won't get anything good here because we don't know you.

Practice, question, listen, connect. (4, Insightful)

sarkeizen (106737) | about 10 months ago | (#46551971)

Here's my $0.05. I've been a hiring manager for a number of developer positions.

i) Practice: Have a few pat answers for open ended or probing questions. Like when you get asked "Can you give me an example of..." pick a good example - one where you look good (I can't tell you how many times someone picked an "example of resolving a conflict with their coworker where they looked pretty bad"). Then bounce it off your NON-tech friends. Take their advice, even if it sounds weird or not how you would naturally talk. Then practice until you can make it sound natural.

ii) Question. It pays to ask a question or two about the questions being asked of you. Not every question but it shows you are listening and can be even used to show off knowledge you have but haven't been asked.

iii) Listen when they are talking. Try to get an idea of what these people are looking for.

iv) At the end you are often asked if you have any questions. Use the information about iii) to get them talking. Find something you have in common. Suggest some solution. i.e. get them talking about their biggest problem areas for software, hardware (whatever you're being hired for and ask them "Have you tried..."). Don't go on too much about a single technology. I don't mind it when someone slips an extracurricular into their interview but it should be a one off. For example, I interviewed a person who did some Ada programming in his spare time. Which is cool but he referenced it two or three other times and it started to sound like an attempt to distract from the question.

Bonus: Avoid jokes. Seriously. Unless you really can take the temperature of your audience it's hard to pull off and it can easily be taken the wrong way and counted against you . Remember that when you tell jokes to your peers at work they already know you (to some extent) and are attempting to think the best of you. An interviewer is trying to differentiate between you an everyone else. If someone from HR is on the interview panel and you tell a joke (or relay an experience) that makes you look like you have a problem or might be mildly sexist, ageist, racist. You can easily find yourself on the bottom of the pile when it comes to a decision.

Re:Practice, question, listen, connect. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46552467)

I've hired a few people and here are my main criteria and they are equally important:

1) Be good at the job.
2) Don't be an asshole.

To answer the OP's question, in order of importance:

1. I act excited about what I'm talking about. It's pretty easy because I'm genuinely excited, and I get to brag about how good I am. It's one of the few times it's socially acceptable.

2. Control the interview. If they ask you a question, feel free to elaborate, articulate and pontificate. Don't be terse and impersonal with your answers. They are trying to gauge your personality and if you are annoying or not.

3. Never be negative. I get that you are working at a shit hole and want to leave. I've been there myself, but the interviewer might see it negatively.

4. Find out what they want you to do and talk about how you can help them with their problem.

5. Don't be technologically decisive. Contrary to popular belief, language X on OS Y using database Z works perfectly fine in most circumstances.

Likeability (0)

hackus (159037) | about 10 months ago | (#46551973)

Are you over 35?

If you are you are not likeable.

Let them know you'll make them look good (1)

sahuxley (2617397) | about 10 months ago | (#46552033)

A manager of mine once told me he hired me because of this. Of course, you have to nuance it a little. I told him something like "I'm good at communicating the ideas of the project in ways that non-technical people can understand and appreciate the value of it. A lot of times in these positions if you're doing your job perfectly, nobody notices because the system just works. It's important to make sure we get credit for this as a team."

I'd say it's your history of bouncing yearly (2)

SensitiveMale (155605) | about 10 months ago | (#46552133)

I understand your last two jobs were longer, but you have a trend.

Re:I'd say it's your history of bouncing yearly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46552333)

I understand your last two jobs were longer, but you have a trend.

Any company that brings up that point is generally a big red warning flag for me, as it signals to me that they do not intend to keep up with the market when it comes to compensation and benefits once I join the company. Unfortunately, in business, "loyalty" means "someone who I can take advantage of".

Besides, they've called you in to the interview at that point, and bringing that up is simply a way to attempt to devalue your expectations come salary negotiation time. If the company actually gave a rat's ass about it, you wouldn't have gotten the callback since it's clear on your resume that you hopped around yearly.

Re:I'd say it's your history of bouncing yearly (1)

asmkm22 (1902712) | about 10 months ago | (#46552951)

Yeah, but switching jobs "every year or so" is a bit extreme.

What I'm curious about is *why* he switched that frequently. It's easy to think or claim that it's for "competitive wages" or whatever, but I know a few people in the industry who are just difficult to deal with. They give decent first impressions, but start to wear out their welcome after 6 month, at which point the employment relationship becomes toxic. Then they start looking for another job, and the cycle starts over. These people always have reasons for why it didn't work out, or why it was a shitty company, but it becomes obvious for everyone around them that there is a definite pattern going on.

Maybe the OP is one of these types. Maybe his ability to give a great first impression is starting to wear out.

Some people have the same problem with dating.

Eight years older (4, Insightful)

scsirob (246572) | about 10 months ago | (#46552193)

The problem with being eight years older is that you are, indeed, eight years older. Past a certain age it seems that the only jobs you will be able to get is through your network. All else being equal, a complete stranger who has to evaluate you against someone eight years younger (heck, you were a good developer at that age, right?) will definitely chose the younger person. More agile, easier to morph.

Work your network. If you are as good as you say you are, use your reputation instead of your skills.

Re:Eight years older (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46552621)

I have a question about this commonly held belief, if they really don't want older workers in interviews then why do they ask them in?
Sure you don't actually state your age in the resume but it's pretty obvious when someone is older by looking at the time stamps on the past employers. Even if someone doesn't state the year range, if they state they worked "X years at" one place and "Y" at another and all those add up to a large number then obviously the person's not a fresh out of college type.

The only thing I can imagine is asking in a few old interviews that are set up to be dropped is for some kind of legal protection or to make someone higher up in the company happy
"See we don't discriminate, just last week we had Mr. Foo in and he was 55, but we didn't hire him because he didn't have 10 years of ADA decompilation experience on Windows ME (that is, insert impossible requirement here)"

A couple of tips, based on a recent interview. (2)

CityZen (464761) | about 10 months ago | (#46552201)

When I interview someone, I ask them to explain something to me. A good candidate can provide a concise overview of the topic and then work through it in a coherent manner, seeking and taking in feedback from me to see if they're explaining things at the right level. Just wandering around the topic isn't so good. It's okay to say what you know and what you don't know.

Another thing I do is to ask them to solve a problem (either a simple but slightly tricky coding problem or a problem about a technology we've discussed). What I like to see is someone who can explain their thought process as they go. If they get stuck, they should be asking questions. But just sitting there thinking quietly isn't a good sign, especially when they don't come out with a good answer eventually.

You do need to find a good balance between talking too much and being too quiet. To do this, it is important to seek feedback and take queues from the interviewer. This kind of interaction is key to "working well with others".

Re:A couple of tips, based on a recent interview. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46552261)

Also, don't confuse the words "cue" and "queue". Instant interview killer.

Re:A couple of tips, based on a recent interview. (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 10 months ago | (#46552555)

If you are applying for a job as an English teacher. Also how would they know you are saying the wrong word?

"How To Win Friends and Influence People" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46552291)

"How To Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie.

Buy it, read it, practise, read it again, practise, read it again, etc.

Seriously, there's a reason this book is the on *every* list of essential sales and business books. It ought to have been called "how to get along with people and communicate with people" but it was written a long time ago when such titles didn't sound so ridiculous.


Interviewing is honed skill (2)

loom_weaver (527816) | about 10 months ago | (#46552319)

I consider interviewing to be similar to sales. You're selling yourself and you need to be able to effectively counter objections. It's a skill that very quickly becomes rusty.

One book I found helpful is the Adams Job Interview Almanac as it helps identify the reason why questions are asked.
http://www.amazon.com/The-Adam... [amazon.com]

Doing so isn't easy and is a skill that must be practiced. In the current commercial for AT&T with the 4 women and 1 man professionals, would you be able to understand why each question is asked and be able to answer effectively?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

Reverse your age (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46552413)

Being old has nothing to do with being cool.

These younger IT types are nerds through and through. They want to make sure you still play Xbox and like the occasional beer on a Friday night out with the boys.

Let them know that although you are seasoned, that you still enjoy the occasional round of Team Fortress Classic, while letting them know your headshot skills aren't what they used to be. LEt them know you have some cool nerd hobbies, either building electronics, hacking stuff, or collecting firearms or commic books.

I've found the age discrimination thing is BS. They just want to be sure you are humble, nerdy, and can still hang with the boys. Eventually they will respect you and start asking you for advice.

Letting them know you still have a pulse will help a lot. The hard part is that you really need to know your sh!t. They aren't looking for people ready to retire who never kept their skillset updated.

Stop talking about yourself (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46552431)

There are twenty personal pronouns in the request for feedback ... I, I, I, my, I, I etc.

    Personal pronouns are guaranteed to bore the life out of listeners. References to one's self such as, "I, me, my, you, your," can be replaced or just skipped in normal conversation with a little practice.

    Think of it this way: "Small people talk about people (including making reference to one's self), normal people talk about things and great people talk about ideas."

    Using "I, me or my," implies a certain preoccupation with guess who!

    Recruiters are looking for team players and those who can fit in with others.

isn't it obvious? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46552439)


Practice interview? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46552445)

Try to find someone (through linkedin, facebook, meetup, craigslist?) who interviews candidates at one of these companies for the sort of job you want. Have that person interview you, with all the trimmings of a real live interview. And then get honest feedback on why you're not getting the hypothetical job. It's probably best if you don't already know this person and you just have your one-time meeting or a business mentor relationship.

Interview (2)

David_Hart (1184661) | about 10 months ago | (#46552455)

My thought is that once you get a face-to-face interview they have already selected you, and the other 5 to 10 candidates, based on their technical skills. The whole purpose of an in-person interview, then, is to determine how well you communicate, how friendly you are, and whether you have anything in common with the interviewers. While technical questions may be asked, it's more of how you answer that matters.

Do you ask follow-up questions?
Do you ask the interviewer, if a peer, how they would handle the same problem?
When speaking to the interviewer, do you try to find common ground? (i.e. golfing, movies, family, American Idol, latest sport trades, etc.)
Do you show interest in the problem? or do you have a been-there-done-that attitude?
Are you showing a willingness to learn? Despite the old saying, even an old dog can learn new tricks.
Did you prepare? Did you find out as much about the company as possible (i.e. national vs international, HQ locations, latest products, etc.)?

Perhaps none of these are the problem. It could simply be that you are not up on popular culture. Nothing shows your age more and isolates you more from younger colleagues than not being current. Do you get asked modern cultural questions? Can you answer them?

Knock 'em Dead (1)

cascadingstylesheet (140919) | about 10 months ago | (#46552477)

Read the book Knock 'em Dead. Seriously, it's a great book.

The other thing is to remember that an "interview" is just a meeting. You are both deciding whether you want to work together, for years ... pretty important. Makes sense to have a meeting about it. But that's all it is: a specialized type of meeting.

Issue (1)

MXB2001 (3023413) | about 10 months ago | (#46552497)

Stop saying things like "I am really having issues" People will think you are an idiot if you can't even use english properly. The word is problem. Learn it, use it. Impress people by how literate you are.

Re: Issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46553101)

"I am really having problem?"

Here is how I do it (1)

udachny (2454394) | about 10 months ago | (#46552723)

I post an ad, you call, first I want to hear clarity of voice and ideas. I ask you to come by to meet and to see the place.

When you do, I ask you to tell me about yourself. Then I tell you about the company and the projects and technologies we use. I tell you what I am looking for in an employee. Then I ask you to ask me questions. Then I let you go ask a few questions to the current team members.

You come back, I tell you to think about it and send me a message.

Since I hire people with very little upfront experience, I don't expect them to be able to know much, I train the people and I tell them this upfront. I also tell them right away that they only start getting paid when they become productive team members, which means that they start contributing tangible code to a project that ends up used in the project. Until they become productive team members they are not paid, they are unpaid interns.

I have to like the person and they have to like the place and the projects. If this clicks we start. There are no 'gotcha' questions, there is not much technical interview at all. I tell them about the tech we use and the projects we run and I let them think about it.

OTOH when I need specialised help of an experienced developer/manager I always get a contractor that I am either familiar with or that somebody that I know can vouch for.

The interview IS the job. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#46552755)

I was a self-employed software contractor during the dot-com boom. I had lots of great technical gigs, but one of my favorite clients was a recruiter who would hire me an hour or two at a time to send me out for "fake" interviews with "difficult" clients after too many well-matched candidates had been rejected. My job would be to participate the interview, gather as much information as possible (interview the customer), then help the recruiter generate a more accurate job description during our post-interview debrief.

You would be surprised at how often the job description is dead-wrong, the interviewer can't interview, and everything feels like a train running off the tracks.

The most important thing I learned from this process was to realize is that an interview is THE FIRST DAY ON THE JOB! You need to think of yourself as a member of the interview team right from the start, with the goal for all involved being to find the right person for the job. Sometimes, this means you may need to run the interview (similar to "leading from behind").

This attitude got me more job offers than I could shake a stick at. Quite often, a startup would be working on technology so new that NOBODY could possibly know much about it, so after basic technical competence is minimally established, the interview became more about attitude, team fit, and other non-technical issues. Technical leaders and managers can be terrible at doing that side of the interview. But it pays for you to be good at it: Though I'm an embedded software engineer, I had one offer from a superconducting startup who literally told me "you can learn the technical stuff on the job".

Being committed to the group goal, beyond your own self-interest, really matters.

More importantly, I applied the same process to the interviews for my technical gigs. Surprisingly often, I'd have to explain to a potential client that they had completely missed the target by interviewing me. We'd shift the interview to discuss what the gaps were, and how they allowed them to persist. (This was during the peak of the dot-com boom, when "warm technical bodies" were needed.)

One time, this led to a 2-week contract (at my top rate) to help them create a better job description (by having me interview the technical folks and managers), and to consider other candidate finding processes (sometimes I'd refer them to my recruiter friend or other recruiters specializing in their area).

The word soon got around that I was there to help, and when small companies or groups got stuck they'd literally say: "Let's interview Bob". This was their way of getting a couple free hours of my time, and I never minded (it was the kind of PR money can't buy). This snowballed to the point where I was offered a partnership in a technical recruiting firm! But I'm an engineer first, last, and always, and really didn't want to spend my day reading job descriptions and resumes, filtering candidates, or spending endless hours on the phone or writing emails.

It's not that I was in any way good at this stuff (I know very little about HR): It is simply that I care about the process, was aware of my place in it, and was able to tell if it was on-track to its goal. That's what was rare, and was often valuable to those on the other side of the desk.

So, what do you do if it becomes clear during the interview that either a) you are the wrong candidate for the job, or b) you don't want the job? It's the same as when you want the job so bad you can taste it: You try to leave the interviewer better off at the end of the interview than they were at the start. Either way, it's the professional and ethical thing to do.

And it makes one hell of an impression.

Probably more specialized (1)

Kjella (173770) | about 10 months ago | (#46552763)

You're probably more specialized than before, straight out of college most assume you'll do well at "general development" and the assignments they have in mind are more of that nature too. Now they're looking at someone with many years of experience working with X, how is X relevant to them? I've jumped "subject matter" quite a bit and I feel it's because I've been able to make my experience seem relevant. Personally I feel I've stretched it very thin at times, but I guess a little is better than nothing. And I've tried to keep a positive spin on the things I don't know, as in this is the part of the job I know well and these are things I hope will challenge me and expand my horizons. It sounds awfully cliche but the number one thing you need to show them is that you're still hungry. I'd work on what do you do and say when you don't know the answers.

Behavior-Based Interviewing (2)

the_wesman (106427) | about 10 months ago | (#46552783)

Practice behavior-based interview questions out loud. Have a friend ask them and give feedback if possible. They will help you give a great interview. If you still don't get the job, you may not be a fit.

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