I’m : a programmer, writer, podcaster, geek, and coffee enthusiast.

Job interviews


I have a job interview tomorrow. Or today for some of you East Coast folks. Anyway, I am requesting, nay, begging for you guys to do the following:

[…wish me luck, etc.]

Thanks. I’m nervous.

It’s OK to be nervous about a job interview, but make sure you’re framing it with the right perspective.

Remember, they need you more than you need them. Hiring and interviewing people is incredibly time-consuming and expensive. It takes a lot more time and money for them to interview you than for you to go on the interview. They need to fill this position, but you don’t need to be the one to fill it: you can just as easily take a different job.

There’s always another good opportunity for you to take. Maybe you don’t see it today and it’ll show up next week. But if you accept this job, you will miss tons of great opportunities during the time you’re working there, whether you know it or not.

This isn’t as much about you as it is about them. You’re interviewing them. This is where you’re going to spend the majority of your awake time every weekday, probably for at least a year or two. While they’re evaluating your potential fit in the job’s intended role, you’re asking a much more difficult question: Is this somewhere worthy of my time? There are tons of jobs, but I’m only [insert age here] once. Will I be satisfied spending this portion of my life doing this job for this company? Am I going to happily get out of bed every day to do this? When my friends and family ask me about my job, will I be proud and excited to talk about this? Would any massive portions of my education or interests be ignored or wasted here?

So drill them. Be picky. Ask questions about how your time and skills would be used and what you’d be working on. Observe everything happening around you: absorb as much as you can about the company and work environment. Is the work interesting? Does it appear well-managed? Will you be able to learn and grow professionally here, or would you be the smartest person in the room? Do the other employees seem friendly? Are you impressed by the interviewing process? (You’ll be working with people who got through it, whether that’s a good or bad thing.)

If they don’t offer you the job, oh well — it probably would have been a bad fit anyway. You’ll get another interview for a better job soon. That’s a much better outcome than the other failure direction: taking a bad or mediocre job and being miserable or bored for the next two years. Nobody can afford to risk that.

So let them be nervous. You have all of the control.