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The Stress of Interviewing

Technical interviews can be so stressful. Any interview can be stressful, actually, but you can really get grilled in a deep technical interview. It’s always interesting when an interviewer starts off with technical jargon and asks you to explain what various terms are. These can actually be a lot of fun if you know your stuff.

Ironically, the interviews that fail to turn out a job for me have often been due to missing components of the job description. For example, I was once turned down for a lead web developer position because I didn’t have Google-class search (with relevance and prioritization) experience and detailed CMS (content management solution) experience under my belt, but nowhere in the job description were these to be found. But it didn’t matter. What killed the interview is something that they didn’t say. I blurted something about being willing to make certain compromises in my career path to make up for the career derailment of my last position. What a stupid thing to say, particularly considering the position wouldn’t have been a compromise at all.

What interviewers don’t tell you in follow-up interview responses (telling you you’re not wanted) is that you probably could have taken the position and your weaknesses overlooked if your personality matched, or if you were a little more confident, or if you didn’t word your answers in quite that way. Certainly solid responses are important for technical questions; you need to know your stuff if you’re a technical person. But beyond that, how do you respond to stress? How did you handle issues with your previous manager?

Every time I walk away from an interview, I have a list of items where I knew I "blew it". I write them down. I ponder them. I research better answers. I am not the first person to be asked these questions, and people out there have dealt with tough interviews. They have shared their experiences. And the Internet is a worldwide community where people can share those experiences. There is much to glean from.

So despite a couple rejections, I don’t come out at a loss. Nobody likes the lonely and sad feelings that result from rejection. But I strive hard to come out feeling even more excited and sure of myself as well as knowing what to say and, equally important, what not to say.

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Categories: Career
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