The Art of Failing Job Interviews and Winning a Job!
A while ago, I shared my personal experiences on Twitter when I was applying for jobs around 2015-16. Many folks liked it so I decided to write more in this newsletter.
Here is the original tweet:
The story began when I decided to migrate to Europe back in 2015-2016. After living for 4 years in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, I thought it’s time for a big change. I had so many friends, most of whom had been offered jobs in Australia, Canada, the USA, and Europe. Meanwhile, I was doing the immigration process for both Australia and New Zealand.
To be honest, I really wanted to go to Canada, but some things happened, and that dream never came true.
In late 2015, I started looking for jobs in Europe. I mainly targeted Germany and the Netherlands; however, I had an eye on different western European countries too, such as France, Denmark, Sweden, etc.
I started by creating a Google sheet to track where I applied for each position, with the details about the job, including how I performed in the interview and a lot more.
I have created a simple template, and if you would like it downloaded from the link below:
Job Interview Tracking Template - Google Sheets
Sheet1 Company,Contact name,Email,Time to Apply,Recieved Response,Has intreviwed ,Take Homework,My last interview in the process,Rejected,Got Offer,Date to reject or approve,My Strength,My Weakness,Other Contact info ,Website,Link to Job
I search many different sources of jobs, but my main sources were Linkedin, Glassdoor, Stackoverflow.
I always needed visa sponsorship because I had to get a work permit to relocate to the company’s country, which was so challenging for two main reasons:
- I held an Iranian passport, and well, it was more difficult for companies to sponsor me.
- Not many companies generally sponsor relocation and work permits as it’s hard to apply for the immigration process. It is sometimes very time-consuming and risky; what if the applicant gets rejected, etc.
But anyway, I didn’t give up. As soon as I could find a job, I immediately applied and added it to my sheet for tracking.
All in all, for about 1.5 years, I tried and applied to over 100 Jobs.
Among all the jobs I applied for, I only received responses for about half, inviting me for interviews. Now you can imagine, I had about one interview each week. In reality, it was much like that; I had several interviews in a week and sometimes nothing for a month.
However, from the very beginning, I told myself that I would go to all of the interviews, and right after each, I would think then write about my strengths and weaknesses (as you see on my sheet)
Because I was ready to get rejected, I know that probably to get a job, I have to become way better. I was confident that I am good, but the rejection was part of becoming better. I was not afraid of it. In fact, I knew that part of being successful has so many failures.
So What did you do with rejections then?
Well, easy! I started to fill my gaps in terms of personal, technical, and behavioral aspects.
Let me give one example.
In one of my interviews, I was called to a remote whiteboard for pair programming in the first session. The interviewer started writing code and asked me to complete line by line. Guess what? I didn’t have any confidence in doing it. I was stressed to death.
Imagine in such a stressful situation how you would perform. Probably not well, and I didn’t either. I completely forgot everything! My heartbeat was high enough that I could hear it clearly.
I was so embarrassed and disappointed. After the meeting, I was down for a few hours, but you know, I couldn’t let that go. I had to improve this skill.
I wrote everything in my weakness and started to sharpen it. I researched and found videos and blogs and started to write codes without any help from my head, and so on and so forth.
Since I had an awful experience, in my next interviews, I asked whether they had pair programming (whiteboard style) or not? I actually decided not to attend those interviews because I already knew I was not good at it and would fail.
But you know, it also was great practice for me, I could see if I have improved or not. So, in any subsequent interviews, I went along much more prepared than previously for at least this skill. At a minimum, I was not as nervous and stressed out as I had been initially.
Lack of technical knowledge was another reason I got rejected in many of the interviews. But, after every single interview, I started to research questions I didn’t answer well or something that they asked, and I didn’t know about it.
Learn from mistakes but give yourself room
This is what I did, even though I got rejected in almost 50 interviews over 1.5 years. I didn’t stop applying and learning to fill my mistakes and hone my skills, and in fact, eventually, I got a job!
Each failure, especially in a technical interview, is a great opportunity to level up your skills. Just embrace it. Learn from your mistakes and be ready for the next one.
Do not underestimate or overestimate yourself.
The last thing I wanted to tell you was that I got a job from a company and from a country that I didn’t even consider.
For example, the majority of my interviews and jobs were in Germany. I was confident that I could get a job there, which I think I overestimated. In reality, I got a job in Norway! A place where I never thought there might be an opportunity for me.
Find all possibilities and study them well. I am sure you’ll find a way.
These are my closing words which I have learned in my life, the hard way, and I repeat them every day:
I kept my story short, but if you’d like to know more, please tell me, and I will write it in more detail later.
This week I have watched an amazing developer video several times, which I’d like to share with you. I hope you enjoy it too.
Have a great week ahead,