The COVID Vaccine…

Knocked out by the third dose

Since I received my shot a couple of days ago, I have been glued to the couch, suffering from the typical body aches and chills most have felt after each COVID dose. Thankfully, this is my first encounter with side effects worse than a sore arm. It’s been challenging focusing on project-related tasks, but the pandemic and the impact it has had on our lives crossed my mind.

More specifically, how new graduates will have several interviews conducted online. I applied to a few “new grad” positions during my fall term and went through Zoom meetings for code and behavioral assessment.

If the last two years have been anything like mine, then the most conversing you’ve had with strangers involves a greeting followed by thanking them as they hand you a receipt for your groceries.

I can be pretty introverted, and the pandemic caused me to embrace that trait.

When it comes to interviewing preparation, we have likely encountered similar advice or read through similar guides. If I summarized all that into a few bullets points:

– Get an internship or have some CS-related job experience
– Leetcode 24/7
– Keep all that data structure/algorithms knowledge fresh
– Practice problem solving out loud

As I began my 1-on-1 Zoom meetings for a couple of positions last fall, I didn’t find myself struggling with the coding challenges. I was working through the problems while giving the interviewer an explanation of my thought process. I could answer questions or apply suggestions given by the interviewer without derailing my progress. In a few meetings, I ended up with a detailed simple solution and a more efficient solution. 

So what went wrong? Why didn’t I get a job offer? Well, there’s obviously much more that can go into the interview process, but in my opinion, I felt like I had forgotten even the most basic social skills!

Who can blame me? Most of my close friends and my household have been following the stay-at-home policy for nearly 2 years. Plus, 99% of my responsibilities can be done at my house. I’ll admit, the few times I’ve driven somewhere other than our local grocery store, I’m shocked at how different things look due to the road and building construction progress.

I was in my own little world, surrounded by my pets, wearing pajamas, and focused on learning everything I could.

So while you practice for your interviews, make sure you practice your communication skills! Despite all these technical assessments and code testing during interviews, human bias will play a key role in whether interviewers will move forward with you. One of these biases is known as the First Impression Bias.

It’s essential to know your facial expressions and tone and be mindful of the interviewer’s interest level in you. Make sure the first impression you give is positive!

The Decision Lab: Anchoring Bias, explained.

The best advice I’ve received is to go into every interview with a list of questions to ask. Not just the role specifically, but maybe you know the names of your interviewers and can look at their recent job experience. You could look into the company and its products. Whenever you get an opportunity to ask the interviewer questions, ask questions! Fill up all the time you can with questions. Ask about the role, the company, the interviewer’s experience, and their personal interests. If you find a common interest with one of your interviewers, take some time to explore that subject.

So while your cramming Leetcode, take frequent breaks and brush up on your social skills!

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