A Jagaimo.com Project tech.job.search guide



New Etiquette

Know Your Stuff
What to Expect

Know Your Stuff

Jason Truesdell

At most high-tech companies, interviewers test you on technologies and skills you list on your resume.

If you say you know C or C++, expect to be asked to write a string reversal function; you'll be expected to know the central terminology like what an operator is, what an operand is, and the distinction between a declaration and a definition. You might be asked to write a singly- or doubly-linked list class, a stack, a queue, or a tree structure. Depending on the complexity of the problem, the level and description of the job, and the intended duration of the interview, you may have to write code, just the declarations, or you may just have to describe a data structure or program flow.

If your resume says you know HTML, don't come to the interview and say you can write HTML but you have to use a reference book to look up syntax. Depending on the job, you probably won't be expected to remember minutiae, but you might be asked to write HTML for a complex table, a frameset, an ordered or unordered list, and so on. You might be asked how to position an element on a page. You may be asked to suggest multiple solutions, even bad ones, just so that the interviewer can find out how you apply your knowledge to solve problems.

If you've only tweaked HTML generated by tools, you might be able to demonstrate that you can read HTML (which is how you should have described your knowledge on the resume), but don't expect to get away with a claim that you "know" HTML.

If you list a skill in your recent experience or you don't establish a time frame in your resume, you can expect to be tested on it. If you wrote COBOL five years ago and haven't touched it since, you should have it listed on your resume only in the context of the job or project on which you worked. In that case, you would probably only face fair questions about the problems you faced in developing your code and how you solved them.

As I've mentioned elsewhere, high-tech employees, including managers, tend to be familiar with a wide range of technologies and may test you on skills not directly related to the job.

Be comfortable enough with your areas of expertise that you won't have to make excuses when you are asked questions about them.


Last modification to this page: 2000.12.18

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© 1999-2001 Jason Truesdell.
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