I’ve been unemployed almost 9 months now. Have been to some 10-15 in person interviews. 20-25 phone calls. Declined 2 offers for coming in too low.
Doesn’t matter how many interviews I do, each and every one is a stressful experience. I used to have poor social skills so meeting new people was hard, but that’s not the issue anymore. Now it’s that I’m being forced into a room with people I don’t know, they put me under the microscope and inspect me from all angles, before I even know if this company is worth my time working there.
And some of these companies go a step further and ask questions to actively make you question your self-worth, or to try and make you slip up. The truth is that, in the end, the only thing matters is – how did you feel? I’ve had some interviews where I felt a lot more relaxed, the conversation flowed smoothly, and I was being respected as a person. And other interviews where it was pure hell, and if I had confidence and ability to think-quickly, I would have stormed out in disgust after the first few minutes.
All I’m saying is – focus on feeling good, first and foremost. Bring a coffee or water with you if it will help you relax and take it easy. Remind yourself that the outcome doesn’t matter, because you didn’t have a job when you walked in either. Remind yourself that these are people, and they are on the same page as you, they don’t know who you are – like you don’t know who they are.
Be honest about your shortcomings. Tell them you find interviews stressful and you need to unwind after 30 minutes. Tell them you prefer coming back another time to do the technical test (or perhaps they can let you take it from home). Let them know ahead of time, if they ask you theory questions, you probably won’t be able to understand some of the words; you can put together an application, can write the code, but talking theory is not your strongest point.
But really, all they want to see is that you have the thought-process that knows how to approach different programming problems. They’re very forgiving, especially if you’re one of the strongest candidates (in terms of your past experience, if you can show them a list of projects you’ve put together, and perhaps show them some references from past employers/clients on your linkedin profile). Sell them on your ability to think-through a problem.