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In the first 2 parts of this article, I talked about what made me confident. I read and I think therefore I'm confident. However, not everyone is as crazy as I'm about "work". From here on, I'll talk about things everyone should do for their interviews. First, preparation.
Interview should be prepared. Preparation gives you confidence. If you have prepared for every question in an interview, you're unlikely to fail. On the other hand, if you're not prepared, no matter how good you are, you could stumble on some questions and totally miss on a few others. This will shake your confidence so you don't perform as well as you should on even the easy questions.
Most of us work in a very narrow area after settling down in a company. In the most recent few months, our actual work experience is unlikely to cover all the questions that could come up in an interview. After working a couple of years in something, we could easily forget the concepts we learned at the start. The help of IDE and the practice of cutting and pasting code have greatly reduced our ability to write code from scratch. As a result, it's a must that we prepare before each interview.
It seems that majority of people don't prepare for interviews. It's hard to believe. We used to have 15 simple questions for telephone screening. Seven out of ten people couldn't pass them. Years ago, someone I taught for 2 or 3 months beat a dozen other candidates for a Java job. All she did was going through some toy projects and reading the book <<Java Certification Guide>>. I bet most of her competitors were more experienced. But they didn't prepare for the interview.
Recently, I saw a post on Rolia about a failed interview. The poster were asked two questions on Hibernate: one about optimistic concurrency control and the other about the Bag collection type. He failed both and then the interview. To me, none of the questions are out of the line. The poster probably didn't prepare for Hibernate questions.
Most people tend to blame the questions after they fail an interview. Many Rolians made such comments on the above failed interview. They say the questions are too detailed. Or too abstract. They say they can do a good job even though they can't answer the questions. They say they can easily google out or their IDE could help them. They're right. However, they didn't put themselves on the interviewers' shoes. An interviewer often has only half an hour to judge a total stranger. Besides asking these questions, he probably doesn't have any better way.
A lot of people complain that even the interviewers may not be able to answer the questions. They're right. Once I recommended a friend to the company I was working for. A guy I respect interviewed him. Didn't work out. I asked the guy why. He said my friend failed a question about "public" and "protected". Even I wasn't sure so I asked him for the right answer. He told me. But I felt his answer was wrong. Turned out I was right. This example shows that we should prepare for all the "sensible" questions, even though they may not have much significance in our day-to-day work.
Interviews can be prepared. If you go through a dozen interviews, you'd realize same questions come up over and over. A woman got a job simply by studying interview questions. She went to many interviews. After each one, she'd write down the questions and her husband would answer them. Then she'd study the answers. After a number of interviews, she become good at most of the questions. Eventually she got a job.
It doesn't take much effort to prepare for interviews. If you're an experienced programmer, it should only take a couple of days. A few hours, even, if you have collected enough good interview materials. There're websites which list commonly asked interview questions and answers. And websites which have short examples for doing different things. I used to have a mental list of things I'd go through, books I'd scan, my own notes, some websites, etc.
Besides the technical side, you should also prepare for other questions. Questions about your resume. Questions about yourself. You should be able to briefly describe your most recent jobs, the projects, the environment, your roles, etc. And why you're looking for a new job. What are your strengths. Whatever you claim, be sure to prepare an example. If you say you're a team player, give an example. If you say you're a problem solver, give an example. And be prepared to tell them your "weaknesses" too.
In short, preparation gives you confidence. Unpreparedness hurts your confidence. Most people don't seem to prepare so the short time spent on preparation could get you way ahead of the pack.
So far I have talked about hard things which affect confidence. In next and final part, I'll talk about softer things which could boost or ruin your confidence.
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