Why you fail your interview even as a great developer

Petr Zaparka
Jan 22, 2018 · 4 min read
Photo by Branko Stancevic on Unsplash

I was listening to my friend recently complaining about the lack of good developers. His company is constantly looking for new people, and they are struggling to find them.

They have lots of candidates that look good on paper, but in reality, they fail the interview. They go through the technical part of interview well. But when they start talking to them, they find out that potential candidates struggle to communicate. They can’t describe/translate technical issue into everyday language. They seem to be arrogant even though they might not be. They don’t listen.

Job Interview is a stressful process. You have to prove that your worth to others which is for most of the people going out of their comfort zone. You have to talk about yourself,
about your past and sometimes your future. Here are few tips how to improve your chances to get hired.

“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” — Dale Carnegie

Be friendly

My approach to this is to talk to an interviewer as they are my new colleague. I don’t know them yet, but I’m trying to be friendly and honest and found out about them what they do how and why. Talk to them. I know it’s hard to talk to strangers about yourself but if you want to have a good job you have to get better at talking to people.

Listen

I know that you want to go through the interview as fast as possible, but you need to listen what the other side is saying and what they are asking. It helps in 2 ways. You find out more about the job and the company, and you will get topics that you can ask about. i.e.

Interviewer
“We have a friendly environment here. We play table football and have a beer fridge always full. One day a week you can work or anything that you want...”
Me
“That sounds good. So I can do anything not related to a job or is it something to work on the product?”
Interviewer
“It’s something to work on the product, but you can do anything. Come up with a new idea, try new technology...”

You see where I’m going with this. Based on the question about the “free coding” Friday you find out more about the company. You might find out that the “free coding” day is to solve technical debts instead of doing something for fun. It would suggest that this company has some issues with planning.
Or it might lead the other way where the company is giving you more time to improve your skills.

“When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion.” — Dale Carnegie

Use your empathy

What do you do when you have to talk to a manager about a technical issue, who doesn’t have a technical background? How do you talk a customer to find out why they can’t reset the password? If these are situations that you are trying to avoid then don’t. These are precisely those things that will give you more experience and teach you to be more empathic.

Then when they ask you, at the interview to describe some technical problem in a non-technical way, you know what to do.
But how you ask?
I’m sure that you have been there before. You are in the middle of something, and your mum is calling, “Hey Petr I can’t search for anything on the internet or my password is not working …”. My first thought is omg not again. But I take a deep breath and then trying to imagine what is she doing. Ask her to describe what is she doing “exactly”. And then go from there. I’m trying not to use any technical terms. So keep that in mind for some people even word “browser” is a technical term.

You can try the following exercise:

Try to explain to 6 years old what is an email.

Think about it ...

I bet that keywords like servers and domains will pop up in your mind. Stop right there. Six year old doesn’t need to know what is DNS or a server, or that there is something call POP3 or IMAP.
Simplify everything that you can.

Me
“Email is a message that you send to someone via the internet.”
6yr old
“Like when I use WhatsApp?”
Me
“Yes, pretty much you just use a different app.”
Those 6year olds these days.

The same thing applies to customers. They don’t know things that you consider an essential knowledge. So be empathic with your customers and managers.
It will help you to get a job that you want. And if you are not looking right now, it will reduce your anxiety every-time you have to talk to non-technical people about an issue.

Bonus

Six ways to make people like you

from How to win friends and influence people by Dale Carnegie



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➞ You can find out more about me on zaparka.cz

Petr Zaparka

Written by

I love wine, self-improvement, chocolate and running. I do web development for a living. You can visit zaparka.cz or drop me an email petr@zaparka.cz

Petr Zaparka

Written by

I love wine, self-improvement, chocolate and running. I do web development for a living. You can visit zaparka.cz or drop me an email petr@zaparka.cz

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