How to Land a Job Interview in Programming

You've graduated college and now you are looking for a job in the IT field, preferably, one in programming. Programming is not double clicking buttons in a WYSIWG editor and typing a few lines of code. If when you graduate, all you can code is basic, you will have a hard time. Hopefully, you did not goof off in your classes and forget all the coding experience you learned in your four year journey. You actually want to put those skills to good use.

If you want to get a good job, here is some advice. Become good at public speaking. Learn how to interview and be interviewed. Know your stuff. Take a career development class of some kind. You don't have to be the best programmer, but having a lot of charisma can be the deciding factor in getting your job. Mumbling your words and staring at your shoes during an interview isn't going to help you. Don't make the mistake of only relying on your charisma to weasel your way in, though. You won't be able to keep your job before your style wears thin and your lack of talent becomes apparent. As long as you know your stuff, and have experience, then the interview will be in the bag. After all most interviews are, mostly, just about seeing how well you can talk about the subject. If you can do that, then your chances of getting the job are high, whether you have the skills or not.

Good engineers are not typically good with communicating. I highly recommend communication classes as well, provided you have some good engineering skills to go with them. Otherwise my advice is look for a government job.

Some employers once gave me these very important pieces of information. If someone was awkward or nervous and didn't make eye contact, but did well with the technical parts of the interview, then the employer would hire them. If someone was great with being eloquent, smooth, and charismatic, but failed the technical subjects, then the employer would have no interest in hiring them. Being smooth does overcome technical incompetence, or at least largely so. Being poor at interpersonal communications wont help. Knowing your stuff is certainly important, but there are indeed other aspects. Being able to learn, thinking about customers, working on teams, knowing when to change approaches, generating ideas and weighing them, and so on.

People in general are more inclined to hire the mostly charismatic over the total nervous wreck. It applies to all jobs in general. Just how well can a nervous wreck fully explain he knows his stuff as well as work well with his co-workers on a team or interact with customers on a team?

It's not as easy as wishing the interviewer would just hand out a test and say "here you go, code this," and whoever got the highest grade would get the job. Most of the time, the interviewer hires people they think they will like, and people like charismatic characters. It's hard to judge a person in 50 minutes, so things like eye contact, seriousness, and awkwardness do count. Maybe they don't count in every situation, but taking that extra class on public speaking can only help you. In the end, while knowing your stuff is good, being a people person will help you even more. Because your interviewers are people too.