First Mini-Interview

The other day, my teacher announced that a company in the building may be looking for a Junior Developer, and we should make an effort to stop by to introduce ourselves.

The class collectively recoiled and hissed.

“I have some fingers I’m not really attached to. Could I just chop one of those off instead?”

As if job hunting and networking weren’t already painful enough, as a new developer, you are absolutely guaranteed to get questions that make you feel like a moron.

Perhaps that’s why most, if not all, of the other students nodded their heads and then deleted the suggestion from memory. I can’t say I blame them.

I did manage to drag myself to the company’s office and ask for the lead developer.

Thinking he’d probably be too busy to spend much time with me, I prepared only for a quick conversation:

“Hi, I’m Julie, and you probably don’t care, but now you have seen my face and hopefully it will trigger a foggy memory a few weeks from now when I’m closer to graduation.”

What happened instead was that right there, on the edge of a large room packed with maybe 15 employees, he started to ask me some basic interview questions.

For me, the defining feeling of being interviewed is the sense that my brain and mouth have been forcibly separated. Time seems to slow down as my brain processes questions first as a query to my inner monologue, and second as data that is appropriate to be uttered out loud.

The questions went something like this:

Him: “What is your favorite thing about Ruby?”

Brain: “It’s not Javascript.”

Mouth: “I like the flexibility of the language.”

Him: “But what about something more specific?”

Brain: “It’s not Javascript. It’s not Javascript. It’s not Javascript. Need to be more specific….. It’s not Javascript.”

Mouth: Something random about hashes.

Him: Thoughtful silence.

Brain: “Okay, shut about up about Javascript for a second, and think. ‘How floating point numbers are handled?’ No, that’s what I hate. What’s something I like? ‘Ooh! I know! It’s not Javascript!’ Come on, brain! Focus!”

Mouth: Something random about if-then statements.

Brain: “Nice one, mouth. Should have gone with Javascript.”

Him: “On a scale of 1 to 10, ten being the highest, how would you rate your skill with Ruby?”

Brain: “As compared to who? My fellow students? Yukihiro Matsumoto? The average person on the street? Let’s see…. We’re looking for an integer between 1 and 10 that is roughly equivalent to what I think of my Ruby skills.

Okay, got it. No—–wait—–you always underestimate yourself….Here, try this:

i = best_estimate_of_ability

i += 2

Okay, go for it, mouth.

Mouth: “An eight!”

Brain: “Nooooooooo! Did you just say eight? What were you thinking? How did you come up with an eight? Oh, there’s the problem. You did

i *= 2.

Nice job there, genius.”

Mouth: “Yeah, definitely an eight.”

After a few moments, he told me they were pretty full right now ( brain: “Shot down!”) but I was welcome to send him some code samples (brain: OMG, my Github is a disaster right now.)

As I walked back to my classroom, my brain and mouth took one more accusing look at each other and then re-merged.

I hadn’t intended to tell the other students about the about the experience, but my filter was exhausted, and I ended up spewing out a recap immediately.

Brain and Mouth as Joint Entity: “I just talked to (the company). I think I’m going to vomit.”

Friend From Class: “Wow, you have more balls than the rest of us.”

“Yeah, I have some artificial ones I keep in my pocket. They’re more durable than the real ones.”

“Wow, that’s awkward.”

“Yep.”

In case you wondered, I am going to email him a code sample.

I’m also sending him a link to this post.

He will either think I’m crazy and write me off immediately, or think I’m crazy and be curious as to just how crazy.

Either way, it should make me kind of hard to forget, and in job hunting, that’s half the battle.

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