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I also realize that no two people or situations are alike, and that I have no idea what you're going through!

But from a fellow introvert who has had success with interviews: an interview is a good example of a social situation that's fairly "hackable."

By hackable I mean an interview is something where, at least compared to an open-ended conversation with a stranger, there are certain... branching paths of conversation?... that you can practice ahead of time.

The inevitable questions about why you're leaving your current job are definitely a thing you can practice. I don't think it's necessarily bad to mention some negatives regarding your current position and why you want to get out of it. If it didn't suck in some way, why would you be looking for a new job?

I think a good answer to the "why are you looking to leave your current position?" question would involve:

1. What you like about the new company ("You guys seem to hire really good coders, you're growing as a company, and I like your approach to A, B, and C.")

2. What you want to achieve at the new company (ex: "I'm looking for an opportunity to do less support and more coding.")

3. Optionally, something about what's bad at your current company. Preferably in a positive context. (ex: "I'm really excited about building modern web applications, and I'm not able to achieve that at Company XYZ because we've committed to supporting IE6.0 until 2050 because it's what the owner's mom uses.")

Anyway, it's not easy, but it's.... hackable. Unless it's a really weird interview, most of the ground you'll cover is rehearseable. Good luck!!




Thank you for the advice and good luck!

In all of the interviews I've been to recently, the interviewers continue to press me if I focus on their company and don't say something about why I want to leave my current employer.

After a particularly bad interview, I did start practicing for these types of questions and I'm getting better, but that's still relative. Part of the problem is that I've been in the toxic workplace so long and I'm so desperate to get out of it, that thoughts of escaping push to the front of my brain while I'm in interviews and I either blurt out something I shouldn't [1] or I just freeze up (think deer in headlights), typically a combination of the two which is even worse.

[1] I don't blurt out anything quite as bad as "my current boss is an ass", rather things like "My boss doesn't believe in bug trackers and I think they're extremely important." So far so good, right? But then there's a pregnant pause and I catch myself blurting out, "At least a client threatened to take away our business if we didn't start keeping bug records, so now we have 3-ring binders and paper forms to record our bugs. But that doesn't do any good when the same bug is reported multiple times in every binder and the boss doesn't actually look at the bug reports or give anyone else access to the code." At which point the looks on the interviewers face tell me I've blown it again. (Very true scenarios about our bug reporting and my idiotic blurting out in an interview.)


Haha. I've done very little interviewing/hiring, but if I was the interviewer I'd probably laugh along with you at that point - especially if I had just pressed you for more details about why you're leaving the current job.

Maybe it's how you're saying it, and not what you're saying? Is there somebody you could practice with? Somebody who could point out body language or tone of voice or other cues that could be giving interviewers the wrong impression about you?

One other possibility...

Maybe round out that story by mentioning how you (or the team you were a part of, even if you weren't the lead person on the effort) tried to solve that problem in a constructive way. "We gave our boss a presentation on three popular, low-cost issue trackers that we tried and liked... to no avail." Surely your next employer will make some decisions you don't agree with - they're wondering how you will handle them!


I certainly think part of my problem is the how I'm saying it. Unfortunately I don't have any friends who would give me constructive criticism (they'd give me plenty of criticism in jest, just none of the constructive variety). I wish I had somebody who could do this for me!

I have to admit, I never considered trying to recover after I get the "look" from interviewers. In fact, I had provided multiple recommendations on bug-tracking software, to include setting up demo servers for several different packages (because of those demos and related discussions, our interns started using both bug-tracking software and GitHub for their projects - so that was a definite win).


  > I certainly think part of my problem is the how I'm saying it.
First of all there's a chance you might not be coming across as awkwardly as you think you are. You know how it is when you're nervous - our perceptions (and our perceptions of how others see us) can get skewed.

If you truly are coming off awkwardly, what's the real problem there? The problem is this: the interviewer is wondering, "How is this guy going to interface with the rest of the team here if he's this awkward? Does he even know he's awkward?"

So... you can address both of those unspoken questions head-on. Mention that you tend to get nervous in interviews and when meeting people for the first time and that it's something you overcome fairly quickly and that you tend to develop really good working relationships with coworkers. (Because that's certainly true from what you've said)

  > I wish I had somebody who could do this for me!
If you live near Philadelphia I'll do it for a beer haha. Is there anybody non-technical that might help you? Siblings, parents...?

  > In fact, I had provided multiple recommendations on bug-tracking software, 
  > to include setting up demo servers for several different packages (because of 
  > those demos and related discussions, our interns started using both bug-tracking 
  > software and GitHub for their projects - so that was a definite win).
If I was interviewing you I'd find this impressive. You offered a constructive solution and, even more importantly, your solution got traction. Kudos!


Thank you so much for the advice and offer!

> ... you might not be coming across as awkwardly as you think you are ... I have no doubt that I am.

> ... you can address both of those unspoken questions head-on ... I honestly never considered this, but will in future interviews!

> If you live near Philadelphia... Unfortunately not.

> Is there anybody non-technical that might help you? Siblings, parents...?

Unfortunately I tend to have family and friends that are overly critical in a really bad way. The last time I asked my mother to look at my resume I was berated for 30 minutes for being so stupid, not using my god-given-skills, etc (i.e. nothing useful but lots of hurtful). I don't even bother asking the guys in my family, they're far worse than my mother. My friends really are great friends in many, many different ways, but tend to be truly lousy at giving constructive criticism. For example, I told one friend that I was going to be building an JavaScript application. She instantly went off on the evils of Java, how Apple won't run Java, and didn't let me get a word in. When she finally finished her anti-Java tirade, I tried to let her know some of the many differences between JavaScript and Java, but until a couple of other friends started quoting from wikipedia entries and intro tutorials, she wouldn't believe me that they really are two different languages. (I promise, she has been a really good friend in other ways!)

I do participate in a ton of meetups. Would it be appropriate to ask a peer from a meetup group to be a proxy for an interviewer?


Yeah that sounds like a great idea!




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