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Cover image for Shattered or How to bomb interviews as a senior developer

Shattered or How to bomb interviews as a senior developer

Jenn
Jenn is a self taught web developer who specializes in usability and accessibility. She is easily spotted at conferences by her bright lipstick and various code dresses and t-shirts.
・3 min read

Yesterday I interviewed for a senior developer position at a large corporation. I was confident, in charge, and ready to rock.

Angela Lansbury in a sparkling gown and fur stole.

Thirty minutes into the interview I left shattered and destroyed.

Kristen Bell crying in a car.

What happened?

I bombed.

How I bombed the interview

Bombing an interview can happen at any stage of your career. It can happen if you prep. It can happen if you don't prep.

Bombing isn't always just on you. It can also be because of the team that you are interviewing for, their lack of preparation, and the interview style.

Prepping

I prepped by reviewing everything on the job listing.

Meryl Streep in all pink, outside at a table, typing on an early laptop.

Most of the bullet points were about Agile, testing, and leading a project so I reviewed those skills and made sure they were mentioned on my resume.

There was a single line mentioning the MEAN stack so I brushed up on my MongoDB and Express.js.

I felt confident and prepared.

I washed my power suit, picked out my jewelry, and settled on a simple red lipstick and gold eyeshadow look.

The interview

I had been to the location before, so I knew how to get there and the amount of time needed to walk to the building. I arrived a few minutes before my interview to check in and calm myself.

Meryl Streep removing her sunglasses.

I met one of the interviewers and went to the conference room. He started to explain the the team and project.

And I realized something wasn't right.

Britney Spears looking confused and side to side with her eyes.

He was going into a deep dive of security terms. I rolled with it. I did security years ago so I was able to keep up and add to the banter.

He then talked about the tool the team was making and their stack, Java 8 and Oracle.

Emma Stone horrified in terror.

They wanted a senior Java engineer who knew a little about front end development not a senior front end developer.

It had been years since I worked with Java. It wasn't even listed on my resume.

They carried on and quizzed me about JavaScript and everything left my brain.

Little girl with pigtails looking back and forth in confusion.

I couldn't remember the base datatypes, hoisting left my mind, first class functions were not there. I scribbled frantically on my scratch paper trying to pull up anything. These were terms I knew, things I just did without thinking, I could not define them anymore. They were just a part of how I coded.

Then I was asked about databases.

Kristen Bell fake laughing and then crying.

I finally asked them what they were looking for. It was obvious I was not it. They agreed and we ended it early.

Afterwards

I calmly walked out and drove home.

Woman awkwardly looking back as she leaves a house.

I called my recruiter and they apologized to me. They didn't know the team wanted a Java engineer as that is not what they asked for. The recruiter was also confused to why they even interviewed me as my resume has none of the skills they actually wanted.

I bombed because I should not have been interviewed for that position. It still hurts and is frustrating. Remember not every job is for you.

Discussion (21)

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mshappe profile image
Michael Scott Shappe

What the...I mean..I just...

WHY ARE PEOPLE?!

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geekgalgroks profile image
Jenn Author

I know.

I wasted my good glitter eyeshadow on that interview.

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xanderyzwich profile image
Corey McCarty

I second that

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ky1e_s profile image
Kyle Stephens

Such experiences suck, but they happen unfortunately. Don't blame yourself. Interviewing is just as much about assessing the company as it is the company assessing you.

You dodged a bullet. You wouldn't want to work for such a company.

Bigger and better things will come your way :)

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theodesp profile image
Theofanis Despoudis

I’m curious to see the job description

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geekgalgroks profile image
Jenn Author

Here it is in all its glory:

Need to Have React.JS (Mean Stack).

SENIOR (10+ YRS OF EXPERIENCE)
• Develop and test code to deliver functionality that meets the overall business strategy and objectives
• Build the work needed to implement features from the product backlog
• Size user stories
• Unit test code, create automated test scripts, and execute all other testing-related tasks
• Test deliverables against a user story's acceptance tests
• Execute necessary project documentation
• Work closely with other team to ensure that features meet business needs
• Follow industry-standard agile software design methodology for development and documentation
• Work with infrastructure, security, and other partners
• 3-5 years in an engineering role
• 1-3 years participating in agile development
• Scrum certification, a plus
• Experience with test-driven development and software test automation
• Deep experience working in an agile environment (e.g. user stories, iterative development, etc.)

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tadman profile image
Scott Tadman

I'm trying really hard to decode what they meant. Maybe this?

M: Oracle DB
E: Java EE
A: React
N: Tomcat

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geekgalgroks profile image
Jenn Author

The JORT stack? 😂

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moopet profile image
Ben Sinclair

I think they left out the opening description. If you imagine it saying, "senior software engineer wanted for Java role)" first then none of the rest of it is particularly off.

I bet they were a little too close to it and not used to writing job specs.

Hopefully they learn something.

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theodesp profile image
Theofanis Despoudis • Edited

There is no mention of Java. Wtf. 10 years of exp for only a senior role? If they pay you 100€ per hour then fine but in that level that’s the minimum. Tbh the job description is all over the place and so do they.

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moopet profile image
Ben Sinclair

Some good people have a lot more than ten years experience and are regular or senior developers. It's not like there's a common agreement about what terms mean across the industry :)

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jordonr profile image
Jordon Replogle • Edited

I had an interview with Facebook, and they asked me the simple question of what port is associated with DNS... and I said 63 instead of 53.

Another interview, I flipped what a == and === did. I've been developing for years, have written production code in multiple languages... and my mind still freezes sometimes when I'm put on the spot.

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akolybelnikov profile image
Andrey Kolybelnikov

I'm so happy to read this ... No, don't get me wrong, I'm not happy about you having those moments, I'm happy I'm NOT ALONE with them.

Thanks for confirming I'm not a special case of developer dumb. I feel hope and will continue ... to bomb interviews.

I know this s**t!!! It's "just a part of how I code".

I also sometimes doubt that interviewers are 1. knowledgeable and professional people, 2. simply good humans or 3. even know themselves what they're looking for.

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steelwolf180 profile image
Max Ong Zong Bao

Next time don't work with a external recruiter. Work with a internal one that is directly from the company's HR department.

I will usually ignore recruiters because of their way in placing candidates from misinformation to down right waste of time in useless phone calls.

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geekgalgroks profile image
Jenn Author

That is what I normally do, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

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steelwolf180 profile image
Max Ong Zong Bao

Yeah well, I would just chuck it as life lessons then.

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alxtrnr profile image
Alex Turner

I'd offer you a post for telling a great story and choosing great gifs to go with it. Top job. You da bomb!

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moopet profile image
Ben Sinclair

You didn't bomb anything. You got ushered into the wrong screen and only figured out their mistake when you were 20 minutes into The Phantom Menace.

This is annoying but don't let it get you down!

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zoltanhalasz profile image
Zoltan Halasz

This is just a mistake of the recruiter. It happened to me in the past when I used to work as a management accountant. They invited me to an interview for a job which was not matching my CV which they already had.

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bendman profile image
Ben Duncan

So they wanted a Java engineer but they quizzed you on Javascript? They need to get their stuff together!

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geekgalgroks profile image
Jenn Author

When I asked what they wanted because I prepped for obviously the wrong thing, they seemed appalled at what I did prep for. Apparently reviewing Agile was wrong and foolish because "You are just assigned a task and do the thing."

Bombing was the best case scenario out of that entire interview.