Following my posts on tech tests, one might easily predict what I could write next given that I talked about something within that topic. It’s the thing that many of us dread at first, practice for ages on and half of the time, feel the cold mist of intimidation when we walk into the room.
It’s may be the first step or step after the tech test, that a developer may encounter when job-hunting. It could be a casual coffee talk or an office discussion on the 41st floor. It could be about questioning your knowledge on code or talking about what do you like doing for fun .Either way, the moment we hear this word “interview”, it sends a chill down our spines.
We suddenly feel this weight on our shoulders, a tunnel vision of a target or if it’s really bad, our face feeling moist. We’ve subconsciously decided to put ourselves in a different paradigm where things are scarier, bigger and slipperier. Why is this?
Perhaps, we feel we only get one shot. Perhaps, we will feel sad when we see our chance fly out the window. Perhaps, we feel this is something that we can only shoot for. Perhaps, we feel other burdens on this as well whether it be driven by our emotions or other personal issues. It’s most likely that all the above are true, or at least some of them are true.
Plus, talking to people, as if that’s not hard enough. Learning the ways of starting and moving through conversations is a tricky skill to master, as every person is uniquely different. The closest you could get is finding what is similar between different people, and grouping them depending on what type of “conversation ways” there are! The dilemma.
However, perhaps a story of mine could enlighten the situation of what we could do in this dilemma.
This blog post was inspired from one of the career workshops we had, where we learning about interviews from the career team at Makers. The objective was to be in a group of three. One person would be the interviewee, the other the interviewer and the other an observer. The role of the observer is to watch how the person behaves, how the person responses so that they can give input of what the person could do.
I thought this would be a fun and comfortable experience given we were doing it with our peers. It was light practice after all.
However, I was about to be proven wrong.
As we were doing the second round of the exercise, I was watching how a peer of mine responded to questions he didn’t know the answers to, as me being the observer. What a good speaker he ended up being. In fact, he was such a good responder that whilst I was writing my feedback for him, I drew multiple dollar signs next to his name. He aced the questions like he was scoring hoops in a basketball game.
The nerves started to sink into the depths of my barren stomach. My lips started going inwards as I started going into my chair. I imagined my head just sinking into my stomach with the rest of my body following it. Given I was the last person to be interviewed, I realised the person who was interviewing me was him.
A wise, smart speaker who was about to ask me questions about things that I had no idea too and had to respond to. I knew he was someone of great intellect given I had paired and worked with him a team. There was no bullshitting out of this one, given that he would have immediately known if I was. As if saying “I don’t know” to a question was hard enough, let alone to someone who knew their stuff.
My interview began cold at first. It was almost as if someone froze me with a freeze gun and that I was transported to the Artic and left me with no clothes on. It felt that intimidating and that embarrassing. However, I eventually warmed up towards the end, and felt the last moments of adrenaline to get warm were being shaken off.
The “observer” (Rob) then gave me my feedback, which I was surprised by. “You started off shaky at first but then warmed up, and you did well.” I sat there, thinking I did a bad job and was puzzled why or how did he say that. “ What did I not see in myself that he saw, which could give me the confidence to feel better?” I pondered. Was I missing something?
He then told me how I was showing passion through my gestures, visualising the concepts giving a better picture and being honest with the fact, I did not know stuff. These were things I hadn’t realise I was doing given I was feeling the artic wind of nerves. I had to keep asking “Did I?” on multiple occasions.
What intrigued me was then what my interviewer had to say (the smart guy). As Rob was saying I was shaky at the start, I blurted out that “the smart guy” was scary. With bafflement, he laughed and simply posed “Why.” All I could do, given I didn’t know the answer was give a shrug.
This question, of “Why” sat with me for minutes, till after the exercise and till the time I was going to bed.
Why couldn’t I answer the smart guy?
Why was I scared to begin with?
Clearly, I had shown potential, passion and knew most of what i could, and said them. I didn’t even remember what I was thinking when I was scared, I guess that’s normal, but
What reason was there to be scared?
Other questions then came along such as then,
Why did I underestimate my capability?
Why did I not see what Rob and the smart guy, see in me?
As I travelled through my dreams in the night, I came to the conclusion that considering all the facts, I didn’t know. After all it was a practice interview. After all, what mattered was I did show potential and passion (which I did) After all it wasn’t the end of the world if I didn’t know something. After all this smart guy was nice and a friend I could consider.
What reason was there to be scared? Zero.
I mean, if you replaced the word interview, with words or phrases such as a conversation or a chat over coffee, it doesn’t sound bad. At the end of the day, that’s what interviews are apart from the fact that you get some deal at the end. However, don’t we get something at the end anyway of any of the above.
With a conversation or a chat, we can get an interesting thought to ponder about, a laugh or some wise words to look back on. It’s not like we’re thinking it’s life of death if we don’t gain anything. Why is this?
Similar to things like love or friendship, it’s one of things where we can’t ask or expect anything of it, given it’s out of our control. We can’t control whether the interviewer will like you or whether they will think you are right for the job. What you can control is your perspective on the conversation and give it your best. If we can control our perspective of an interview, then we shouldn’t let a word stop us from simply being ourselves to show companies who we are or let it underestimate our capability and from us, seeing our capability.
A tip of showing interest in your interview is to copy the body language of the interviewer. Don’t show you are doing it deliberately obviously, cause then the magic would be lost and oh, what a weirdo you would be.
Shoutout to Rob for the handy tip.