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Another failed interview

Posted by gvix on September 14, 2006 at 11:09 PM PDT

Disclaimer: UNLIKE my previous article on interviewing, I am not criticizing any company, processes or interviewers. This post is JUST a blog entry and documents my inability to clear a technical interview. If anything, the interviewees this time around were professional, courteous and knew what they were doing. My one and only gripe is with their huge development area, which resembled a sweatshop with rows upon rows of developers hacking away like code monkeys, sometimes 2 to one machine, and that is not a good view for new recruits (not just my opinion).

The sudden onset of the 1:55 local going from Roma Street to Ipswich woke me up from my day dream. The train was coming in to stop at the Milton station. I looked up at the gentle blur of a fast moving train and between the cracks of the bogie's, I could just about see the outline of the Milton brewery and the smiling Fourex man with the very inviting beer in his hand.

For the 10th time in as many minutes, I wondered what I was doing here. Sitting in a car park, early for an interview, I was trying to pass the time by convincing myself that this was a good thing. The palpitations in my heart were making coherent thought impossible. What seemed like a good idea a week before, now seemed like a monumental blunder.

I was 'here' to be interviewed for the position of a J2EE developer. While that in itself is enough to send shudders down my spine, the fact that I was going to be interviewed for a J2EE developer after working for more than 2 years on ASP.NET was making me hyperventilate. I am not good with interviews. Perhaps it has something to do with the disaster I had some time back with this. Since that event in my life, I have failed 4 interviews, including the one that I am here for. But I get ahead of myself.

Not content with difficulties of going for an interview after 2+ years for a technology I haven't touched in as many years, I had made it even worse by agreeing to be interviewed for a place that follows radically different programming practices. I have written about not liking XP, but the place that I was going for was an XP house, out and out.

All in all, this seems like a perfect case to use to brand me a sucker for punishment. Out of touch with J2EE, impossible to give a good interview, and hate the development methodology. Why did I bother?

2+ years ago, I had left J2EE to go ASP.NET to learn what ASP.NET had to offer. I wanted to expand my horizons, to learn about the competition. I wanted to see how and why ASP.NET may do things better than J2EE. Now, I do understand how these two technologies differ, and how one may be better suited for a particular job.

I wanted to try the same thing with XP after working in traditional methodologies all my life. To see what the competition had to offer. I had tried XP on my own and had ended up disliking it. My thought was to give it a shot for a couple of years and than reach an informed opinion.

Of course, I ended up giving a horrible interview. Combination of nerves, inability to think on the spot and the wondrous and unique ability of fluffing up simple explanations made for an excruciatingly difficult interview. Add to that the fact that the guy I had pulled up in my previous interview disaster now works for this company and had asked if I now knew the answer to the classic ('So you don't know what a static inner class is?') question. At that point I knew I had no chance. Of course I still don't know the answer to this question, but I guess I could simply look it up.

Which brings me to ponder on my next steps. Not getting through the interview wasn't a disaster. I already have a secure job and good working environment. I have even started on a new J2EE project. But not clearing interviews is starting to bother me now. Failing four interviews in 3 years is not a complete disaster, and I am not even counting the first one because it was inherently flawed. But it has been since that interview that I haven't cleared any more and that is a cause for concern. Going public with this admission may be a bad idea and self-deprecating, but I hope to learn how to get over this fear of being interviewed.

Now if you will excuse me, the fourex man has been holding on to my cold beer for a very long time now.

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