Interviewing with Impostor Syndrome
As my abilities grow at Udacity, so to do my responsibilities. I give code reviews, I help mentor some of our junior engineers, and I lead my small internal team as a sometimes engineer/sometimes PM. But probably the scariest monster I have had to face was the idea of interviewing others. Even with all of the awesome things I know in my brain I’m doing here, my jerkbrain asks me how am I supposed to interview other people when I’m not even sure I could get through this on the interviewee side of the table?
Like many people, I’m not so good at taking my own advice, but maybe, just maybe my advice can help someone else, on either side of the table.
- Listen to the manatee. You are smart and pretty. Say it, say it again, say it while power posing. The stupid phrase “fake it until you make it”, unfortunately it’s right.
- You’re just as afraid of it as it is of you. (caveat: unless “it” is an asshole, but you don’t want to work for/with assholes, amiright?) On either side of the table you care about what the other person thinks of you and not sounding dumb (the only upside to being on the interviewer side is that you’re not usually going it alone, there are other people interviewing as well).
- They just want to be loved. Generally the number one thing I’m looking for in either case is whether or not I think I could work with this person. Honestly, even if you’re giving me a tech answer and it’s not right but I can see where you’re going and you’re been an awesome person to talk to and work with the problem on, I’m going to leave that room feeling pretty favorable about you. On the interviewer side, I really want you to like me and be comfortable and do well, it feels like a failing on my side if I haven’t helped you with that (recheck my caveat about working with assholes if you’re not feeling it).
- It’s not you, it’s me. We all have off days and, maybe unfortunately, we’re all human. If you completely fumble or you don’t understand why we could have passed on you. It might be us. We know our team, we know our product and maybe we know that you wouldn’t be happy here or don’t think we’d all have an awesome time working together. For interviewees, off days happen, interviews might tank. Reflect, move on, it sucks but it’s not the end of the world. Even if that was your dream company of rainbows and ponies, they probably weren’t. There are probably lots of other companies doing equally cool things that would be thrilled to have you.