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Your Interview is Tomorrow? Here's Some Last Minute Advice

Published 10/25/2017

In today's episode we discuss a few pieces of advice for your upcoming interview.

Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
So tomorrow is the big day. You have the interview tomorrow. You have picked out your clothes, your best outfit. You've got your resume printed out and you have a backup copy ready, exactly where the office is, exactly where you're going to park, exactly what time you're going to leave. And you've been studying. You've been putting as much of the technical knowledge that you think you may need to pass this interview. You've been trying to put that into your head to really gain the knowledge that you need so that you are the most qualified candidate for the job. So what can you do the night before the interview to prepare yourself? That's what we're talking about in today's episode. My name is Jonathan Cutrell. My goal on this show and my goal in general is to help you become a better developer. This is such a unique and specific crowd who is listening to this particular episode. I have a strong desire to help new developers, especially transition from that training or that learning that they were in, maybe they're in school or they're in a boot camp or in a different career into that professional coding atmosphere. I think there's so much potential and there's also so much uncertainty in this group of people, the people who are listening to this episode right now. And if you're listening to this, you're probably one of those people. So I want to help you. I'm very motivated to help you become better. And really to launch your career and move beyond the training mindset and move into the practicing mindset. So in today's episode, I want to get straight into this advice that I have for you the night before your interview. And we've already set up the scene. You're not a lazy developer. You're not a lazy person. You do your homework. You've been studying. You've been practicing. You have your ducks in a row. You've read books, perhaps, or you've done coding challenges. You've refined your resume. You've had it spell checked. All of these things are kind of the prerequisites. And these are the people who are most likely going to get the jobs because they have enough attention to detail to be able to prepare for these job interviews. Now you'll notice that everything I just said is accomplishable by pretty much anyone. If you're listening to this and you haven't adequately prepared, you've slacked off, or you're not really taking this interview seriously, then there's not really a reason to listen to this episode either. This is not a short-cut episode. Not going to give you a trick or some kind of hack for you to pass an interview that you don't reasonably deserve to pass. If you deserve to pass the interview because of the hard work that you put in and because of the hard work that you're going to put in, because of the competencies that you have developed, then this episode is for you. This episode is intended to help you prepare for the event of the interview. This is not a test. The interview is not a test. This is an event. This is a moment where you are interfacing with another human being. Now are there elements of this that are going to test your knowledge? Absolutely. Is this kind of a form of a test where the interviewer is trying to understand or examine you? Absolutely. But this isn't a test that is somehow administered to you without someone watching, without someone actually actively engaging you. I want to prepare you for the event. There are plenty of competent Developer That walk into interviews and think that because they can check all of the boxes that someone told them they need to be able to check in order to get a job, that they're going to instantly pass that interview round and that they're going to end up being hired because they checked all the boxes. This is quite simply not true. Interviews are a human process. An interfacing with another human that is equally or perhaps even more important than your knowledge and your skills and your experience. All of those things only matter if you can sit in front of another human being and pass that interview. That's what we're going to talk about in this episode. I want to give you some really basic advice that hopefully is going to help calm your nerves. It's a very good idea to take a moment and just sit still for a few minutes. Before you take the advice that I have to give you, I'd like for you to challenge yourself to think about something that is good now, something that you are appreciative of today, something that you are excited or you feel thankful for before you get this job, something that reinforces to you, what is good about your life already. You can pause this episode and do that. Two or three minutes, write it down in a journal, whatever you need to do, but just take a minute and focus on that positive aspect that you already have, that you already possess, it's already a part of your life or maybe it's a relationship you have, maybe it's something as simple as the weather being incredible wherever you are right now. Or maybe the weather isn't very good, but you happen to enjoy rainy days. These things are not the specific things that you have to write down, but imagine just for a moment something that you appreciate. And again, feel free to pause this episode, take a minute and make this, this is a very important part of this exercise today. So once you've done this and we'll come back to the episode now, once you've done this, I want to challenge you to do two things. We'll talk about the first one that we're going to talk about today's sponsor, Linode, after that. But the first one is to stop studying, put the book down, stop doing tutorials, close your computer and stop doing hacker rank competitions and tweaking your code. All of the time for that is now in the past. And your preparation is complete when it comes to technical preparation. There's nothing that you're going to do in the next hour or the next 12 hours or even the next 24 hours that's going to significantly note that word, significantly affect your ability to perform in an interview. And I'm not saying that you can't learn anything in 24 hours. You certainly can learn something in 24 hours. But the goal of the interview is not just to see what that level of learning has been. It's not just to put on display your technical skills. It's not the only thing that matters. And no amount of technical skill that you can acquire in the next 12 hours is going to significantly affect the outcome of the interview. However, what will significantly affect the outcome of the interview that you can prime yourself and start paying attention to now is how you interact with other people. And that's why I want you to stop studying because here's the reality. Your entire computer science career, your entire development career, your entire designer development career, whatever you're going into, really any career that demands anything beyond, you know, a physical labor of someone, you're going to be learning from now until the end of that career. There's never going to be a point at which you feel like you've arrived. And as you learn more, as you continue to add new information into your brain, you're going to realize how much more information there is available to learn. So you're not going to finish preparing for an interview. You're not going to complete some process that is going to, you know, suddenly check again, some kind of box that the interviewer can see that you can't see. Obviously, there are some caveats to this. If the interviewer told you to prepare something specific, then of course, that is a box that you can check. If you didn't prepare that thing and you're walking in tomorrow and you could have finished it with, you know, 20 minutes more of work than absolutely, you know, finished that work. But the principle here is more about, you know, avoiding this cramming scenario. Okay. So a lot of developers, they see these interviews more like, you know, a final in school, where you can study right up to the point of the final. You can cram as much information in your brain as you can possibly fit and then take the final and then you're done. That information doesn't even need to really stick around. And that's not the way an interview is run. If you spend the day before your interview cramming, you are very likely to induce anxiety. You're very likely to walk into the interview room kind of the visual that I get when I think about this is a cup that's filled all the way to the brim. And this is kind of the way that you're working memory and the way that your brain is for lack of a better term feeling when you walk into a room after cramming. And you feel the sense that you have to keep all this information, you have to keep it balanced routes, it's going to leave you, right? I felt this way many times when I would cram before tests and I don't recommend cramming before tests or before interviews because it really isn't going to help you that much. And perhaps more importantly than it not helping you that much is it can actually hurt you. And then you walk into that interview having felt like you've crammed and especially if you're losing sleep, for example, to study some book of questions about that interview. If you are spending the time right before the interview trying to get knowledge into your head and you end up inducing anxiety or you end up being so focused on trying to remember everything that, you know, for example, you're late to the interview or maybe you have awkward interactions because you're not fully present. You're not, you know, putting on your best face. You're not interacting with other people with intentionality. You know, all of these things, these things add up. They're more visible than your extra little bit of information that you came with that last little bit of cramming, right? So you need to be prepared mentally, emotionally and even physically, you need to be prepared for the entire interview, not just for this mental knowledge, technical knowledge portion. So my advice to you, unless you are significantly far away from that interview, I would say stop studying and start thinking about the interview and the people that you're going to be interacting with. Now you may not know their names, you may not know, you know, what their motivations are, but you can prepare for an interview like an event, right? You can prepare for it like an event and avoid preparing for it like an exam. Now we're going to talk a little bit more about how you can prepare for how that interview will go in just a moment. But first, I want to talk about today's awesome sponsor, Linode. So I want you to answer this question really quickly, what can you do with $5 a month? What can you do with $5 a month? The answer is not very much, right? You can pay for parking for a few hours probably. You can buy maybe a fast food meal, but that's not really healthy for you, so you probably shouldn't do that anyway. And there's not really a lot of services out there that cost $5 or less, right? So you're not really going to buy Netflix with $5, but what you can do and what I would recommend as an excellent investment in your career is to purchase access to a Linode server $5 a month. This is the entry-level server. It's a gigabyte of RAM, and that server is running on an Intel E5 processor and the internal network at Linode is 200 gigabits per second. That's very fast. This is up from their previous number. They recently increased their speed. It used to be 40 gigabits per second. Now it's 200 gigabits per second. Very fast internal network. And what that means is if you choose to create a product with Linode, which by the way, they don't just offer those $5 servers, if you have scalable needs, in other words, if you're going to build something that has higher traffic, then you're going to need a bigger server. You're going to need more memory. You're going to need more resources. And Linode provides excellent resources at that level too. You can get 16 gigabytes of RAM for only $60 a month. This pricing is the best dollar per gigabyte pricing that I've seen on the market. And as we said before, these servers run on Intel E5 processors on a 200 gigabit internal network. And what this means is if you have multiple servers and you want to do something like load balancing, well, Linode provides a service for that. It's called node balancer. And the talking between those servers is going to be incredibly efficient. The message sending is going to be incredibly efficient. And I would venture to say that most of the time your bottleneck is going to be in your code before it's going to be on your servers. To go and check out what Linode has to offer, you can find it at spec.fm slash Linode. Use the code Developer Tea2017 at checkout. And Linode is going to provide you with $20 worth of credit. That's $20 just for free for going to spec.fm slash Linode. Thank you again to Linode for sponsoring today's episode of Developer Tea. So before we dive back in, I want you to take a moment and think back to that thing that you are thankful for. I want that to be top of mind as you're going through these exercises and as you're preparing for the interview. You know, your state of mind, when you walk into that room, your state of mind is going to determine so much about what you communicate. Your confidence level, your comfortability, the reasoning and your answers, whether or not you stumble over your words, a lot of this stuff is going to depend pretty heavily on your state of mind. This is one of the reasons you don't stay up all night studying. If you stayed up all night studying, then you're going to be putting undue stress on your body. This is just science too, right? You can't escape the undue stress that you're going to put in your body by depriving it of sleep. So what we're doing here is we're kind of cultivating a positive state of mind. And I'm not a therapist. I'm not a, you know, I'm only using basic techniques to get you thinking positively. That's kind of the first step here that we want to take because, you know, what we're going to do is create this positive state of mind so that when you walk into the interview, you have a positive state of mind. This is going to allow you to speak from a position of confidence, of, you know, control and ultimately self-awareness and self-awareness in an interview is incredibly important. How you're speaking to someone, how you're interacting with other people, your social awareness, all of this stuff is going to play into how well you're going to do in that interview. So once you two, again, reflect on the things that you wrote down or that you thought of previously, that you're thankful for. It's a very simple, simple exercise. There's a lot of science on positive thinking. There's a lot of science that's been, there's a lot of research rather that's been done on gratitude. So you can Google that stuff, there's tons of stuff out there that backs this up, but you want to start with that mindset of gratitude and that positive mindset. So once you've recalled some of this stuff, then the next thing that I want you to do, we've talked about the first thing, which is stop studying, put the books down, you know, close the computer. The next thing that I want you to do is visualization, right? This is very simple. You can close your eyes or you can write out your thoughts, however you want to handle it, but I want you to visualize the interview. This is understanding where you're going, maybe even getting a picture of it, Googling to see what does their office look like. So you visualize walking in the door, you visualize walking with your shoulders back, you know, a good posture, your heads up, you're smiling, you're engaging people. People are engaging you back there, you know, providing you with the directions to the room that you're going to do the interview in, you walk in and, you know, maybe there's one or two or three people that are waiting for you and you sit down and you have all of your stuff laid out, you know, even visualize, maybe even go through those physical motions of, you know, putting your resume on the table and take a minute to just kind of understand and mentally create a picture of what you're going to be feeling in that moment, all right? And what we're going to do with this visualization technique is we're going to decide now, tonight, the night before the interview, we're going to decide how we want or should feel before the interview starts when we're sitting in that room or when we've walked in that front door. Now this may feel wonky, it may feel a little bit odd to do visualization technique, but here's, here's what we know. We know that if you prepare for the situation, right? We know that if you can simulate this to yourself, that you're going to be able to better approach, you're going to have more awareness in that moment. If you visualize, if you see what could happen, then you're going to be more prepared to deal with it when it does happen. So we've walked in the door, we've met some people, you know, maybe we've gone to a room, we're sitting down, we're putting a resume on the table, and we're preparing to dive into this interview, okay? And I don't want you to get too specific on the interview itself. What I want you to do is think through how you want to feel, how you want to present yourself, think through, you know, seeing from someone else's eyes on the opposite table. So because your imagination is pretty powerful, you can kind of zoom out of your own head and jump into the interviewer's head, how would you like to see yourself, right? What is your posture? What is your facial expression? How engaged are you? How are you responding verbally? You know, all of these things kind of put together to get a feeling for how you're going to behave in that interview. And it might be useful to sit in front of a mirror to do this. That may be a little bit overkill from, I would say it probably is for most people, but if you can't, you know, visualize your posture, then certainly standing or sitting in front of a mirror is not out of the question. Okay. So we've gone through this process. We're sitting down, we're having a good conversation. You know, they're asking you questions that maybe you prepared for. They're asking you questions about your experience. They're asking you questions about, you know, what do you care about in life? What drives you? What motivates you? What kind of problems have you faced in the past? What was the most difficult part of your last job or what was the most difficult part of this project that you did when you were in school or when you were in this boot camp? These are the kinds of questions that you kind of know are going to be coming in this interview. So, you know, preparing for them specifically, that's probably something you've already done. What you may not have done is prepared for unexpected questions, curveball questions. These are things that happen in some interviews. They're actually designed to see how you respond in an unexpected scenario. And so you can prepare yourself for the specific question, but you can prepare yourself for how you're going to react, right? Reaction is immediate. And so I would recommend that you prepare yourself to react slowly. Not immediately jump into an answer and don't show a visceral response. Hold your tongue and stay silent for a second, especially if it's particularly jarring, right? Because it's easy to have a visceral or a negative response to a jarring thing before you really even realize it. So I want you to prepare for that moment of silence where you're contemplating what has been asked and you're evaluating in that moment how you're going to respond. And it's okay for you to be caught off guard. That's the intention of those curveball questions. It's okay also for you not to know exactly how to answer a question. What's not okay is for you to act like the curveball question was totally expected. What's not okay is for you to act like you know the answer to something when you don't. So what we're practicing with this visualization is your poise, both your literal posture, but also kind of this metaconsceptive posture. How people see you, how are you presenting yourself in response to this questioning process? So once you've gone through this kind of general visualization process, what I want you to do is I want you to visualize this interview going very poorly. Another sounds weird, but visualize it going very poorly. It's not having good answers to any of the questions or perhaps visualize somebody who is interviewing you kind of trailing off or becoming disinterested. Maybe one person says an off-color comment or is even insulting to you. This is a possibility. There are a variety of things that could happen during an interview. And if you're not prepared for those things to occur, if you're not emotionally or mentally prepared for them to occur, then it's very possible that those events that are external to you will end up applying stress to you. So I want you to visualize the very worst outcome. The very worst outcome. Perhaps the worst outcome to you personally is that you arrive and the interview was actually canceled. It's decided that they previously invited you for the interview, but maybe they found another candidate. They hired them and they forgot to email you. They forgot about you all together. That's a pretty bad outcome. Perhaps a worse outcome for you might be that you get into the interview. The interviewers are condescending or they're insulting and they dismiss your responses or maybe they are trying to one-up you all the time and ultimately they see you out and they say, don't expect a call from us. That would be a pretty bad outcome. Perhaps you go through the interview process and the worst outcome for you is an extreme level of uncertainty. You leave the interview in its weeks and perhaps even a month or two months before you hear anything back and they didn't tell you whether you did well, they didn't tell you anything. So there's a variety of ways that you can evaluate this going into the worst for you. So what we're doing here is we're trying to understand what is the absolute worst thing that can happen. And we've already established that we have things today to be thankful for. We have things to be positive about today. And so with this interview failure, if you go into the interview and you fail it miserably, you end up ultimately not getting the job. The ultimate outcome, the ultimate worst case outcome is that you're back where you started, you're back here, you're back to this state today and maybe you've lost at most a few hours of time because all of the preparation that you're doing for this interview, all of that is still relevant for other interviews too. Of course you're doing a little bit of company research probably or you've done that already, but ultimately all of that research, all that experience, all of that effort is not lost. So we are defining exactly the worst case scenario or defining the worst possible outcome. Now I want you to imagine the opposite and this is what I want to leave you with. I want you to imagine that you walk in, calm and collected, that every question that you are asked, you are able to answer confidently, you're able to answer it comprehensively, you're able to communicate your value, you're able to communicate your effectiveness in previous efforts, you're able to connect on a personal level, you're able to connect on a professional level, you're able to walk into the interview and leave a positive impression on every person that you encounter during this interview. You're able to walk away having confidently solved every problem that you were presented with, having confidently answered every question and addressed every concern. This is the best that the interview can go. And the funny thing is, even if the interview goes this well, even if it goes the best that it can go, you can still not be chosen for this job. And that's still a possible outcome. But the absolute best case scenario is that the interview goes very well, you leave a positive impression and ultimately you get the job. I want you to take a moment after this episode is over and write down some of the emotions or the thought processes that you would have if you do get the job and then also some of the emotions that you will have if you don't get the job. If the interview goes extremely poorly and I want you to think and kind of put yourself into that spot when you're walking out of the building, when you're walking to your car, you're opening your car door, you're getting into the car or you're going to the metro, the bus station or the train station or you're getting on your bike. Whatever your mode of transportation is, I want you to vividly imagine after each of these scenarios how you're going to feel. What we're doing is we're preparing you for the unknown. We're preparing you for the emotional and the mental unknown of this situation because now you have the, all of your base is covered. You have all of those situations covered. So you've prepared, you can kind of forecast different ways of reacting to this situation. Even though you can't forecast every single particular variable, you don't know exactly what that person across the table looks like. You don't know what their voice sounds like. And there's going to be some unknowns. But ultimately, your control over who you are and what you do and how you respond to these situations, that's what we're practicing the day before the interview. Thank you so much for listening to today's very important episode of Developer Tea. I hope that if you have an interview tomorrow that you go in and you absolutely crush that interview, I'm very hopeful and optimistic for you and for the people who listen to this show because you, like me, you want to become better every day. You're constantly learning, you're constantly adding to your own experiences intentionally. You're listening to this podcast because you want to become better and that's the kind of person that's ultimately going to be successful in the market. Thank you so much for listening to this show for being a part of this community. If this episode specifically has helped you out, if you end up going into an interview and feeling more prepared as a result of this episode, I would really love to hear that story. You can email me at Developer Tea at gmail.com. Thank you so much for listening to today's episode again. Thank you to Leno for sponsoring today's episode. Our sponsors help keep Developer Tearunning. If we didn't have the excellent support of Leno, then we wouldn't be able to do this show. Remember, Leno is going to give you $20 worth of credit. If you go to spec.fm slash Leno, then use the code Developer Tea 2017 at checkout. Thank you so much for listening. Make sure you subscribe if you want to miss out on future episodes just like this one. Until next time, enjoy your tea.