When I graduated from college, I interviewed with around 25 of the tech companies that came through campus to look for new employees. Every single one of them rejected me. Since then I've had better luck, but the overwhelming rejection I received back in college was somewhat scarring, so I get pretty stressed out before a job interview. However, my friend Liz had an opening on her team for a job that sounded interesting enough to make it worth the stress. Larry and Pablo also work there, so it sounded like a pleasant environment, maybe one nice enough to give up the perk of working from home every day.
So, I spent a few nights last week generally panicking. I reviewed some basic computer science stuff, practiced solving problems on a white board, and spent many horrible hours laying in bed with my brain busy conceiving of every possible thing that could go wrong during the process. They included:
- I fail to answer any questions correctly and out myself as an idiot to my friends
- I embarrass Liz, Larry, and Pablo and they are outed as people with idiot friends
- I succeed at the interview, get offered the job, take it, and hate my new life
- I succeed at the interview, turn down the job, and watch from the sidelines as the company creates world peace, unseats Google, harnesses the power of dilithium crystals, and offers Blow Job Fridays.
- I make a dick joke during the interview, causing a cascading series of sexual harassment lawsuits which destroy the company and financial future of Liz, Larry, and Pablo.
"Don't try to fake your way through any of the questions," one of them suggested, "The people here are pretty good at spotting fakers, so just admit what you don't know."
Admitting my ignorance? I don't mean to brag or sound full of myself here, but I am REALLY REALLY GOOD, like world class good, at admitting my ignorance. This is one of my core competencies. So, when the interviews began, I pulled out that trick at every opportunity.
Chief Technical Officer: So, on your previous project did you consider using Complex Technique X?
Me: Nope. Never occurred to me.
CTO: What about Complex Analysis Y or Complex Approach Z?
Me: No and no. Those sound like really good ideas though.
So far so good.
CTO: Tell me what you know about Bayesian analysis.
Me: You first.
CTO: Oh, I'm just interested in hearing what you know about it.
Me: I'm pretty sure I could spell it, but that's about it.
2 for 2!
CTO: What do you see your days being like working here?
Me: I guess I'd have to wear pants.
As you can see, the interview went very smoothly. I'm sure it helped that I forgot to wear a belt and that my resume listed the wrong name for my current company. It's the little touches and attention to detail that impress a potential employer.
On the plus side, I didn't make any dick jokes.