Interviews and Resumes

I’m working on this project, you know, at work, and it turns out it’s a little larger than we first anticipated so we’re getting some contractors on it.

I’m interviewing these contractors, and I’m finding that lots of people look great on paper but don’t live up to the hype when you talk to them.

We’re looking for ASP.NET developers, specifically. I’ve talked to five developers with excellent looking resumes so far, and only two are remotely close to anything I’d consider an ASP.NET developer. It’s bad to the point where you wonder if the people who put down “proficiency in ASP.NET” have actually been online before in their lives.

One of the first questions I ask a candidate is what the events are (and in what order) for an ASP.NET web form (System.Web.UI.Page) when it executes. For those who actually aren’t ASP.NET developers, this is like asking a college English professor to give you the alphabet. If you don’t know it, or can’t at least get the main ones, it sort of debunks you as being anything you claim to be.

It turns out that this is a tough question for the people we’ve so far interviewed.

For those going to interviews, let me help you out: When you don’t know the answer to a question, say so. You might take the opportunity to think out loud and talk with the interviewer to see if you’re on the right track, but make sure they understand you’re not trying to put up a smoke screen. Do not change the subject and start talking about jobs you’ve had in the past that are entirely unrelated to the job you’re interviewing for. Do not hem and haw about and then give up with the statement “I know I could do a good job for you.” Just be straight and do your best. Unless you’re interviewing for a sales job, chances are the interviewer(s) will know if you’re lying.

Furthermore, if you’ve used a technology (or application or tool or whatever) only once or twice, don’t list it on your resume. Just because you’ve ridden in a car doesn’t mean you know how to drive one. Save us both some time. Oh, and if you tell me you know how to program and that you rely on copying and pasting example code then tweaking it… just get up and walk out. You’re not going to get the job.

Finally, don’t oversell yourself. I understand that people in interviews get nervous and some people react to nervousness by talking… curb your yammering skullcave and let the interviewers ask you questions. If you have a question, ask it. If you’re asked a question, answer it. Don’t go off on some diatribe about the 47 other jobs you’ve had and every project you’ve ever worked on. Answer the question, provide reasonable detail, and move on.

Save me time. I value my time. You’re wasting it. Just… just don’t.