Five interview ‘No-Nos’ - the candidate’s view
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Five interview ‘No-Nos’ - the candidate’s view

Five interview ‘No-Nos’ - the candidate’s view

Posted on 25th July 2015

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I’ve been a software developer since I graduated in 1999.   I’ve been a contractor since 2006, and part and parcel of being a contractor is that I’ll meet with clients, have an interview with them to verify my credentials and, when successful, l complete my project. When the company has   no more projects for me to implement, it’s time for me to find my next contract.

Consequently, I’ve had many interviews over the years and in certain companies have also been involved with the hiring of other contractors.  This experience from both sides of the fence - of being an interviewee and an interviewer – substantially increases my chance of securing a contract role when selected for interview. However, there are several things that I’ve seen/learned that you must NOT do if you want to increase your chances of success at an interview.  Here are my tips on what to avoid!

  1. Lies. That might seem a bit blunt, but if you apply for a job that asks for AngularJs and you don’t have it, but decide you can cram up on AngularJs the night before, chances are, you’ll fail. When interviewing, I personally get quite annoyed if you say you have that skill and during an interview it quickly becomes apparent you don’t. The question then is, how many other things are you lying about? Fail.
  2. Guessing an answer. For example, if the interviewer asks a few questions about your Javascript knowledge and you answer correctly, then they ask you a javascript question that you don’t know the answer too, just say “I don’t know”. I’d rather hire the candidate I can trust (after all many interview questions are answerable via Google!), than one who guesses. After all, if you guess and give a very wrong answer it will make me wonder what else you’ve simply guessed and then the trust is gone.
  3. Slating your previous employer. Chances are you will be asked why you are leaving. Saying you thought they were a bunch of morons won't increase your odds on passing.
  4. Not asking questions/asking the wrong questions. Not asking any questions is bad; to me it shows a lack of interest in the company. Asking about holidays, sick days and money is also poor form. Chances are you are coming in from an agency – these are the guys to negotiate this for you, make your agent work for you! Interviews are a two-way process: at the end of a good interview they should know about you and you should also know about them. Ideally, you’ll have more understanding of their software approach, how the teams work together to deliver software and will have a real idea of how you would fit in there.
  5. Be vague about your previous positions. Saying you did the data access layer and business logic (for example) at company X. This tells me nothing; I fully expect you did this already from your skillset. In fact, if you are that kind of programmer you will do this again at the new company and the next. What I want to know is what product you worked on, how the components you worked on fitted together and what technologies you deployed, along with how you delivered your work.

Whilst not definitive (we can all, always, do better at interviews), I hope this is value the next time you’re sitting in front of an interviewer, perhaps nervously hoping you’re getting the gig.  If you have anything to add to this list, or any other comments, I’d be delighted to hear from you!

Paul Davies, C# .Net developer
(thanks to Paul for this –
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