Insights and Opinions

10 Common Interviewing Mistakes Often Made By Developers

Given the need for good developers these days and the imbalance between supply and demand, you may conclude that how you interview doesn't matter. And you would be wrong. Many companies will pass on a person with good technical skills if s/he makes the mistakes listed below. So, before you interview, take a moment and read through this.

10. Be late (Figure out where you're going beforehand and make sure that you leave yourself plenty of time, especially in LA where traffic is totally unpredictable, except that it's usually bad.)

9. Curse or use foul language (Yes, even in cool companies, using the "f" word or even anything milder can turn someone off.)

8. Be arrogant (We all know you're the greatest developer/analyst/project leader/manager ever but it's not for you to say.)

7. Badmouth your current or a previous employer (If you do it to them, you may do it to the company you're interviewing with.)

6. Dress like a slob (You don't have to wear a suit, and jeans are fine for some companies, but know your audience. Flip flops and torn t-shirts are almost always a turn-off.)

5. Smell (Shower, wear deodorant, and don't put on too much cologne/perfume, if any. Some people have very sensitive noses.)

4. Avoid eye contact (Even if you're basically shy and uncomfortable looking someone in the eye, you need to train yourself to do it. Otherwise the impression will be that you're shifty or dishonest.)

3. Talk too much (No one wants to be with someone who never shuts up. Often this is a nervous reaction, but stifle yourself. If you're not sure whether you've explained something fully enough, ask the interviewer if he/she would like to know more.)

2. Talk too little (Make sure you answer each question directly and fully. If you don't know the answer say so, but say you'd love to learn.)

1. Be an a-hole (There are so many ways that you can do this that it defies enumerating. Don't laugh too much, don't slouch, don't be sarcastic – you get the drift.)

The generic feedback when an interviewee screws up in any of the above ways is "a poor cultural fit". If you're hearing this comment after an interview, think back on what you did or said that might have turned an interviewer off. We all spend too much time at work to be with someone who is distasteful. Be a nice person - it's not that hard. Remember the golden rule?

Helen MacKinnon is President of Technical Connections (, a local recruiting firm serving Southern California's high tech market. She has more years than she’d like to say in the computer industry. Prior to forming Technical Connections in 1984, she had been counseling and placing computer professionals since 1981.