Fear And Self Confidence In Programming Interviews

I am taking questions on developer careers.

This article is on how to handle fear at programming interviews and become self-confident.

To succeed as a contract programmer, full time developer or freelance programmer you need to master the “developer interview”. Because your technical job interviewing skills are key to getting job offers, do not ignore them or you will quickly be un-employed in any competitive market.

The one critical skill that can make or break your programming interview is fear and here is why:

  1. Fear shuts your mind down! Have you ever experienced a feeling of loss of control in a programming interview? That feeling usually increases in intensity as you get more nervous at a job interview.

    The fear then begins to express itself in your job interview as an inability to hear your interviewer’s questions, recall the right answer to an interview question or articulate a coherent reply. The end result is that fear makes you look bad and incompetent to the interviewer.

  2. Fear stops you from getting hired! Fear makes you look unconfident and interviewers don’t want to hire programmers who are unsure of themselves. The general thinking is that if you are not sure of your programming skills, then you are probably not qualified to do the job.
  3. Fear shuts down your career. Fear of job interviews ultimately causes you to miss good job opportunities, keeps you longer at positions you dislike and keeps you un-employed for a longer time because employers are un-comfortable with hiring.

Here are a few tips, suggestions and tools for overcoming fear of programming interviews and becoming more confident in your programming skills.

  1. Preparation Breeds Self-Confidence! The quality of your preparation for your programmer interview will affect the confidence with which you answer questions.

    Begin by acknowledging that “interviewing skills” are not the same thing as “programming skills”. So you can’t assume that because you know how to program computers, you are also good at answering questions on your programming language.

    So, prepare hard for the questions and answers programmer job interview regardless of how well you can code.

  2. Act Confident And You Become Confident! Learn how to manage nervousness and fear at job interviews. Begin by acting self-confident because the mantra “fake it till you make it” works.

    Here are specific actions you can take at your interview to increase your level of your self-confidence and reduce or manage nervousness and fear:

    • Look the interviewer in the eye as you walk in smiling
    • Shake the hand of your interviewer firmly
    • Maintain eye contact as you answer questions. Control the urge to look around or away.
    • Speak up, speak at a measured pace and speak clearly when answering questions. Resist the urge to mumble or rush over your words.
    • Take a deep breath whenever you feel your control slipping.
    • Isolate and focus on the interview at hand. Don’t listen to negative or distracting thoughts that may try to assail your mind. You should either be listening intently to your interviewer’s question or focusing your mind completely on your reply. Don’t let your mind wonder.
    • Make a joke to break tension. If you feel yourself getting too tensed, relax, take a deep breath, smile and then make a non-offensive joke about something when it’s your turn to talk. The practice of smiling and joking can stop the tension that easily turns into more nervousness and fear.
  3. It’s Not The End Of The World. Do not treat your programmer interview as a life and death affair. Realize that as you work on techniques that help you overcome nervousness and become more self-confident, you perform better at job interviews. This means that you are improving your chances of getting a programming job. So, just do the best you can and realize that in the end, “doing your best is what counts”.

In this article, I have been talking about “how to overcome nervousness and fear in programming job interviews” and “how to succeed at technical interviews through self-confidence“.

This post is part of a series of answers to questions sent in by readers. If you have a question about your programmer career, post it here or email it to me.

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