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Preparing for a job interview... Expand / Collapse
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Posted Monday, February 4, 2013 6:52 AM
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So I've gotten to the point where I absolutely hate my job. My company has been bought out (via a hostile takeover I might add) by a big company and they laid off like 50 people, including many of my friends.
I have a new boss who comes from a retail background and talks to people like they are minimum wage employees.
On top of this, my new task right now within the company is to build the "new" system ASAP so they can get rid of around 10 "old" programmers that keep the AS400 running (yes, they still have the AS400!)
I get a lecture every day reminding me how important it is to finish the SQL Server data warehouse so they can lay off all those people. And I have friends in that group as well. Sorry for too much info, moving on to my question...

I know the experienced people on this forum hate interview questions, so I am not going to even go there, but I am curious... how do you guys prepare for interviews? Do you sit in front of a mirror and talk about your most interesting projects? Do you read up on certain "complex" topics such as clustering, index tuning, fragmentation, partitioning, replication, mirroring, etc.?
Do you not prepare at all?
Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!




Post #1415275
Posted Tuesday, February 5, 2013 2:11 AM


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It's very important to try to get out of the negative mindset when interviewing for a new job. Think of a professional non emotional way to describe your current situation. Weighing an interview down with negative comments about your old job is not a good step, so just do your best to get out of the negative mindset. Even if that is not your intention you will find they'll ask why you'er leaving and you may find it difficult to not spend the whole interview bitching about the people in your old job.

Of course it doesn't stop the fact that you are in an absolutely awful and frustrating situation. Just try and get a positive spin out of it... somehow!
Post #1415650
Posted Tuesday, February 5, 2013 7:45 AM
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I've been lucky in that I haven't had to be the interviewee in a while, bit I've been the interviewer quite a bit.

My first piece if advice (which is pretty well-known, so I apologize if I'm being obvious): know a bit about the company you're interviewing with. Since researching the company is pretty easy to do, there's no real excuse for you to walk in and not know what the company does, their mission statement, etc. So, if you can ask a few questions or make a few observations about how your skill set can support that mission, you're positioning yourself as an attractive candidate. Since you're a SQL guy, you should try to figure out what data sets they're working with and what challenges that data would bring.

I also agree with Nick: if the company picks up on your bitterness, that would make you less attractive.

As for what skill sets to brush up on, you'd have to glean that from the job description. For example, if it mentions replication and that's one of your weaker areas, you'd definitely want to brush up on that. But don't try to whitewash where you lack experience; a lot of interviewers have pretty well developed BS detectors. When I'm interviewing, I give candidates points for admitting they haven't done a lot of hands-on with a particular technology but can demonstrate that they are familiar with the basics and are willing to learn more. If they claim to be expert at it, I'm likely to ask some pretty deep dive questions which, if they can't answer, they'll have lost a lot of credibility.
Post #1415846
Posted Tuesday, February 5, 2013 8:35 AM


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I just recently went through a phone interview (which at the last minute also included the technical interview) for a new job. Phone interviews are rather different than a face-to-face interview, but you still want to be professional. Once suggestion I've read (if you get a phone interview) is to dress like it's going to be face-to-face.

I also agree with the others, don't let your bitterness about your current situation bleed through!

Lastly, don't try to BS your way through a technical interview. While I feel the questions asked in my technical were "softballs," I also was willing to come out and say to some "I've not worked with that, other than to install the feature" and "I've not worked with that at all" when asked about Reporting Services and CommVault Backups respectively. I'd like to think my willingness to say those things, and not try to BS my way through the interview, helped as far as getting the job.
My stand is, don't be afraid to say you don't know something, or you're not familiar with it. After all, if the prospective employer knows up front that you're not a Reporting Services guy, but you've got the basics (or more) of everything else they need, they may still hire you with the expectation of on-the-job training (Yes, I know, some employers want exactly what they list and don't want to worry about training.)

Good luck!
Jason A.
Post #1415895
Posted Tuesday, February 5, 2013 4:00 PM
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I think you've received some great advice here but allow me to articulate a particular way of looking at this. You're in a situation where you are RUNNING FROM a job. In those circumstances, there is a higher probability that you will accept something you don't like just to escape your current circumstance (been there, done that, much pain but excellent life experience). When you interview, you need to be excited about the opportunity to the point that you would RUN TO it regardless of how unhappy you are now.

You need to make a move, but your objective needs to be something desirable, not just different. Take the time to identify your favorite skills and environments, prepare and take your enthusiasm with you.

Good luck.
Post #1416138
Posted Tuesday, February 5, 2013 4:26 PM
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Although you should not come across as bitter (as others have said), you should be prepared to give a short, non-emotional explanation of why you are looking for a new job.

The shorter the better, because what you want to emphasize is why you want the job you are looking for, and not come across like you are just looking to bail out of a bad situation.

Spend a good amount of time on your resume, and maybe ask other people to look it over. A good resume won’t get you an interview, but a bad one will make sure you don’t get one. Basics count: spelling, grammar, look, etc.

Maybe sure you have good references willing to give you glowing endorsements. Make sure you talk to them about it and have all the correct contact information. It is helpful if you explain to them the job you are interviewing for so they can be prepared to emphasize the relevant skills. If possible, get references from former managers and senior technical people. Don’t wait till after you send out a resume to try to get references together, things can happen fast, and you want to be prepared to take advantage.


Post #1416156
Posted Tuesday, February 5, 2013 4:55 PM


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There's some awfully good advice on this thread. I especially agree with the idea of instead of prepping as a person running FROM a job, prep as a person running TO a job they actually want.

Speak nothing of your old company except to explain what you did for the company and what your accomplishments were. That doesn't include the migration to get rid of people. Rather, it should include the "Migration to simplify and consolidate systems and resources".

When they ask you the inevitable "Why do you want to leave the company?" question, keep it simple and truthful without going overboard. I suggest simply "There was a merger and as with all mergers, there are layoffs that normally favor the acquiring company. I'm not a part of the acquiring company and I just see the handwriting on the wall."

If they ask what you didn't like about your old company, tell them the truth that existed before the merger. "There isn't anything to dislike. It's a great company and I have lot's of friends there. I'm just sure that I'll get laid off because of the merger."

When they ask if they can contact your previous company, tell them the truth. You'd rather not simply because it might be additional impotus for them to lay you off and earlier that you might have foreseen.

After that, if they press you with many more questions about why you're leaving, that might raise the question in your mind as to if you really want to work for a new company that sticks their nose so heavily into your business.


Keep in mind that you're in the driver's seat on this one. You already have a job. You don't have to sell yourself short to anyone. Be positive, confident, and eager without being arrogant or milksop that will take anything.


--Jeff Moden
"RBAR is pronounced "ree-bar" and is a "Modenism" for "Row-By-Agonizing-Row".

First step towards the paradigm shift of writing Set Based code:
Stop thinking about what you want to do to a row... think, instead, of what you want to do to a column."

(play on words) "Just because you CAN do something in T-SQL, doesn't mean you SHOULDN'T." --22 Aug 2013

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