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I applied for the wrong job for my placement year. Put down COMPSCI on the form (which, it turns out, is computational biology, which I knew nothing about) rather than ITSEC, which was the software dev side of things.
I only found out in the interview, when the first question was asked:
"So Almond, I'm a bit confused as to why you've applied to this role specifically given you've no biology background at all - could you fill us in?"
I spewed some kind of crap on the spot about wanting to work in a field where I saw a direct & differing application of computing than I'd seen before, and thought my focus on the technical, rather than the scientific side of things might be an asset to them. This awkward exchange went on for a while - but somehow it seemed to work, because I was offered the job, and decided to take it - had a fantastic year there.6
My most awkward interview experience:
I go through the whole process Witt my usual attitude: stay relaxed, be open and let it be a process about meeting each other.
My interviewer at the end of it: "we won't hire you, you are too relaxed and don't fear me enough."
Ooookay? Glad I didn't pass it then!10
I am a firmware developer with 4 years experience. C and sometimes assembly is my bread and butter.
Like 2 years ago, I was really interested to make a switch to application development. Got referred by my friend to her startup.
But I was a bit rusty with my data structures, high level languages and interpersonal skills.
The first question was to find the number of occurences for each word in a paragraph. The language choice was Java. But I was allowed to use C++ since it was the closest relative to Java that I knew.
And I started implementing a binary search tree from scratch and started inserting each tokenised word into it, wrote a traversal algorithm.
The interviewer, luckily, was a patient guy. After I completed my whole mess, he asked is it possible to do this in a slightly better way with constant time access without traversal.
I said yes, we can with a hash table but I dont know how to implement one. He replied I dont expect you to implement the hash table but see you use it. I asked him if I am allowed to used the standard library, for which he said ofcourse.
Finally I understood his expectation, referred cppreference.com and used an unordered_map.
Later there were some quesion on databases for which I tried my best to answer. And I frankly replied that I am not comfortable with JS frameworks as of now. Got rejected.
So the mistake is I never asked basic questions like what is the time complexity expects, if I was allowed to use standard library, didnt spend some extra time on studying stuffs needed for the domain switch and most importantly I panicked.7
I made the mistake of stepping into the lift when I already saw our branch manager walking down the opposite hallway, joined by some guy in full suit and tie who's clearly just been interviewed. So of course they get into the lift as well and as the doors closed, manager asked me
"Well, is it worthwhile working here?"
Shit. Way to put me on the spot in front of an applicant. I just stuttered "Yeah... sure..?" and went silent for the rest of the ride. Like what the fuck kinda question is that, noone would work there if it wasn't. Why would you ask me of all people, their only working student at the time, doing different work on different projects for different pay than any actual employee?1
I work with statistics/data analysis and web development. I study these subjects for almost a decade and now I have 4 years of practical experience.
This information is on my LinkedIn profile and from time to time tech recruiters contact me wanting to have an interview. I always accept because I find it a great way to practice interviews and talking in English, as it isn't my native language.
A remark that I always make to my colleagues wanting to start doing data analysis related work is that it may seem similar to development, but it's not. When you develop, your code work or not. It may be ugly, it may be full of security problems, but you almost always have a clear indication if things are functioning. It's possible to more or less correlate experience using a programming language with knowing how to develop.
Data science is different. You have to know what you are doing because the code will run even if you are doing something totally wrong. You have to know how to interpret the results and judge if they make sense. For this the mathematics and theory behind is as important as the programming language you use.
Ok, so I go to my first interview for a data science position. Then I discover that I will be interview by... a psychologist. A particularly old one. Yeah. Great start.
She proceeds to go through the most boring checklist of questions I ever saw. The first one? "Do you know Python?". At this point I'm questioning myself why I agreed to be interviewed. A few minutes later, a super cringy one: "Can you tell me an example of your amazing analytics skills?". I then proceed to explain what I wrote in the last two paragraphs to her. At this point is clear that she has no idea of what data science is and the company probably googled what they should expect from a candidate.
20 minutes later and the interview is over. A few days later I receive an email saying that I was not selected to continue with the recruitment process because I don't have enough experience.
In summary: an old psychologist with no idea on how data science works says I don't have experience on the subject based on a checklist that they probably google. The interview lasted less than 30 minutes.
Two weeks later another company interviews me, I gave basically the same answers and they absolutely liked what they heard. Since that day I stopped trying to understand what is expected from you on interviews.2
This is my most awkward interview experience. I still shudder just thinking about what happened
When I was in uni I applied for a ‘student ambassador’ role at Microsoft. I went to the interview and it turned out to be group interview with at least 10 other people, we all get taken to a room where we sit around a table with the interviewer. She was friendly and asked us each to introduce ourselves and talk about a talent we have.
When my turn comes I introduced myself and revealed that my ‘talent’ was that I can rap, this is where I fucked up because the interviewer then asked me to rap a song in front of the whole group.
I got very nervous but still gave it a shot, midway through my song due to my nerves I forget the lyrics, a complete brain fart. I abruptly stop rapping and everyone is staring at me, it’s pin drop silence for a good 10 seconds
The interviewer then says thanks for trying and the rest of it is really a blur. I think everyone in the room was embarrassed alongside me so we all pretended like that did not just happen. Needless to say I didn’t get the job2