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November 4, 2013

12 tips to ace a job interview

By shutterstock_153117149_feat

Disclaimer (aka Real Talk): This is a work of fiction/humor, so please, please do not take these tips at their word. Feel free to use the comments to ask for feedback on real interview how-tos.

Facing a job interview is one of THE most stressful things. Depending on how long it’s been since you’ve played the field, you might be wondering what the rules are these days. Fear not. Use these twelve tips, and you’ll for sure not have any problems with any more interviews.

Before the interview

Qualifications schmalifications

Before you even apply, most job descriptions are intentionally beefed up. You don’t need to have all the skills listed. If it says ten years experience it’s totally okay to apply with no experience at all. In the interview, be sure to point out that you don’t have that experience and why you’re so good despite it. 

Don’t study beforehand

Once you’ve landed an interview, it’s time to think about prep. For a technical interview, don’t bother studying core language concepts beforehand. Your interviewers want to know what you know now, so why bother making sure you understand what a closure is (for JavaScript), or being sure that you can define a hash and common native methods (Ruby)?

Don’t ask how long the interview is

Before the interview, don’t bother asking how long the interview is. You’ll figure it out day of. If you have three interviewers or six, one hour or three, wing it. No need to ask if there’s a technical or whiteboard interview, or if you’ll talk to a business owner. If the interview turns out to run longer than you expect, just ask for a few minutes to text your next interview to let them know you’re still finishing up. They’ll understand.

Day of interview tips

Dress to fit in

Be sure to wear your best torn-up jeans if you’re interviewing at a startup. You want to make sure you fit in, and dressing in a button-down shirt or anything that’s been washed in the last week might scare them off. You want them to see that you fit in, so be sure to take a couple days off showering. That’s what engineers are expected to do, right?

Be sure to arrive early. Very early

You should show up at least 30 minutes early. It shows how much you care about the position. If they don’t answer the door right away, call them, or try texting or pinging them on Twitter. Once you’re inside, you can use the extra time to work on your cover letters for other positions.

Refuse to show any code

If they say they want to see how you think, be sure to make all your repositories on GitHub private so that they only get a sense of your qualifications by your interview, not by any external work. If they ask you to whiteboard, refuse, and tell them that you understand how protecting one’s work through intellectual property makes companies billions of dollars and that you’ll be looking out for them in the future.

Be sure to tell them why you’re leaving your current job

Obviously, the new company will be extremely curious why you’re in looking to leave, so get into the gory details of why you’re leaving, especially if it’s because you hate your boss. It helps them know what you like and don’t, so don’t leave anything out.

Give your (very honest) opinion on their stack

If you’re going to work there, now’s the time to share exactly what you think of their chosen stack. This is especially important if you would like to redo the whole thing to your own preferences. Rather than tell them what you can make better, be sure to tell them what’s wrong.

Don’t ask any questions when they say “Do you have any questions?”

You’re here to answer the questions, not ask them.

After the interview

Friend your interviewers on Facebook

Hunt down anyone you interviewed with on Facebook to keep in touch. LinkedIn is for chumps.

No thanks

You don’t want to pester your interviewers with silly conventions like thank you notes. It should be obvious that you’re thankful once you get the job.

Hey, haven’t heard from you in a while …

If you’re going to reach out after the interview, REALLY reach out. Voicemail, fax, snail mail, email, web contact form, Twitter and Facebook are all great ways to make sure your message is heard loud and clear. Rinse and repeat every three days so they don’t forget about you.

With these tips, you’re sure to ace any interview. And even if the first one bombs, there’s always another (the hiring boom, am I right?). It’s not like these companies talk to each other, so you totally have another chance to make a first impression.

Have you used these tips (or had an interviewee who did any of them)? Let us know in the comments.

About the Author

is a web developer based in Philadelphia, PA. She speaks publicly anywhere from local user groups to international conferences on development topics including HTML/CSS, Ruby, Python, and JavaScript, and she also teaches web development and JavaScript, and can be reached via her blog at or on Twitter @pamasaur.