My Technical Interview Experiences
A year ago, I didn't even know what a technical interview was. With no career fairs at my school to give me the opportunity to practice interviewing, my first technical interview was for an internship I REALLY wanted...except not only did I bomb the interview, I also just had a very negative interview experience. With no experience on how to handle the situation, I lied to my recruiter, the person I now know is there for me throughout the process, about how I thought the interview went and did not mention even mention the extremely rude and condescending interviewer, the fact that I could not think through my nerves, etc. Looking back, the bad first interview experience completely traumatized me for the rest of the year. I bombed every single interview after that for the fear that the first experience would repeat itself. At the 2015 TAPIA conference, I had an interview scheduled during my time there, I bombed an interview yet again. Except this interview culminated in a breakdown, "I'm not good enough to intern at challenging companies", "How can I get experience if no company wants to even consider me?" "Why am I at a school that doesn't teach me efficient coding?" I ran into my recruiter for my first interview, and without even thinking about it, told her about my awful experience interviewing for her company was and that I didn't know I was allowed to tell her about it when it first happened. I regret telling her that day though, because I put her on the spot and it just wasn't the right place or time to have that conversation. If she ever reads this, I just want her to know I'm very sorry for that. I was in a horrible place. Needless to say, I was devastated, destroyed, and taking my lack of success in interviews way too personally.
A few weeks later, a dear friend of mine told me "the key to interviews is confidence." Even though I kept a calm disposition, I was FURIOUS at this comment because my friend did not know the experiences I've had to go through. I've always had to study and practice way more than my peers in order to get results so I felt like I needed to devote even more time to practicing interview questions, going through every. single. practice interview book, etc. I thought to myself, "what good will confidence do me if I can't even answer the question?"
You know, it's hard to put into words how upsetting my experiences were last year. Looking back at it now, I see how much I let one negative interview experience define the rest of the year for me. I set myself up to fail every single interview because I spent all my energy leading up to the interview worried that I was going to do horribly only to let my nerves take over during the actual interview.
Over the summer, I learned to respect myself and be proud of the work I do. So this year, I'm starting on a clean slate. Like I said before, I've been incredibly grateful and fortunate that companies are interested in me based on my experiences on paper. Except this year, I'm focusing more on the interviews as opportunities for me to grow as a coder, thinker, student. Sure, interviews will not always go well, or I may think they go well and don't move on in the process, but at the end of the day, those interviews do NOT define who I am or my ability to work. Hopefully one of the interviews this year will land me a summer experience that I will love and enjoy and want to go back to for when I graduate.
In the meantime, I'm going to do my part to study for interviews, but not beat myself down for messing up. I'll do my best to show interviewers my thought process and also learn from the questions themselves. So far, this mentality has worked! I've had positive interview experiences - still no offers, yet I'm managing to answer questions, have conversations with the interviewers, talk to the recruiter, and also just feel more and more confident on my ability to answer interview questions.
I know it's cliché, but it's comforting to think that at the end of the day, I'll end up at the place I'm meant to be!
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Musician turned Computer Scientist.