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(OT) Number 1 mistake to not avoid during an interview

by sfink (Deacon)
on Sep 18, 2003 at 04:04 UTC ( #292312=perlmeditation: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

I've recently started interviewing programmers again, and I keep seeing something that drives me crazy.

First, some background: my company makes "reactive media displays", which means we have a projected image that reacts to your movement. It's pretty much universally regarded as being great fun to play with.

And that's where the problem comes in. When we invite interview candidates in, we usually take them in the back for a demo early on. That's both because it is a lot easier to understand when you see it, and because we want people to want to work with us. Just about anyone who sees the demo and isn't interviewing gets excited and starts to play. Not so for the interview candidates -- everyone seems to think that if they act excited during an interview, or even display interest in what the company does, then they're losing points.

And it has nothing to do with this particular company. I've seen the same thing in other places. You get the interview candidate relaxed and start asking them what they like about the company, why they're into computers, what they enjoy working on -- and you get crap answers that can all be paraphrased as "I like to work hard and do what I'm told."

When I'm interviewing people, I am 50% looking at what they're going to be able to accomplish, and 75% looking at whether I want to work with them. (Yes, those sum to more than 100%. The latter is influenced by the former.) And I want to work with people who are excited! Motivated! Interested in what they're doing!

So why do people feel compelled to display about as much emotion as they do when filing their fingernails? Is this supposed to be "professionalism"? People do realize that they can be professional and enthusiastic about their jobs, yes?

Sure, some of this can be ascribed to nervousness. But not all of it -- when I interview, I keep pestering people until they tell me about something they've enjoyed, and in that process I often collide with candidates' direct unwillingness to admit that they've ever enjoyed anything job-related in their lives. They'll tell me how much they enjoy skiing, they'll talk about how they've always wanted to study economics or physics, and they'll even describe in agonizing detail what a slimeball they used to work for (don't do that, by the way) -- but they won't breathe a word about how they're into computers just because they're so darn fun.

So here's my plea: no matter how bad the job market is, no matter how nervous you are, don't conceal your enthusiasm. You won't get the job at my company, and you'll be doing more harm than good just about anywhere.

  • Comment on (OT) Number 1 mistake to not avoid during an interview

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Re: Number 1 mistake to not avoid during an interview
by tachyon (Chancellor) on Sep 18, 2003 at 05:01 UTC

    A favourite question is "What's the longest you've ever sat in front of a computer for?" randomly thrown into the flow. I have yet to meet a trully gifted programmer who has not pulled the odd etreeeeeemly long session working on a particularly fascinating problem..... BTW I don't advocate extended hours as a good practice as we are all aware how it can quickly sap morale and diminish productivity.

    I like this because candidates generally don't have a pat answer so you can assess enthusiasm for what we do, honesty in answering, depth of geekdom, and the ability to think on their feet all in about 60 seconds.

    The responses to this seemingly simple question are quite fascinating.




      Nice one. One of my favourites is "Why <job title>?" You'd be surprised at the number of people who can't answer that. It's a pretty good way to find out how interested someone is in their career though.
        From the other side of the table, I usually kill them with "So, what do I have to offer you to hire you away from here?"

        If they can answer instantly, run , they have already left.

        If they would never leave the collective, run .

        Otherwise, they at least had to think, which makes an impression. Then you explain the above, which really makes an impression.
        Remember, when you stare long into the abyss, you could have been home eating ice cream.
Re: Number 1 mistake to not avoid during an interview
by tilly (Archbishop) on Sep 18, 2003 at 14:24 UTC
    Research indicates that most programmers are introverts. There are reasons for that, for instance it is harder to get the sustained concentration that programming needs from an extrovert. You are unlikely to get displays of emotion like you are looking for from introverts, particularly not in what is already a stressful social situation (the interview).

    While I agree with your advice on how to be an interviewee, my suggestion on being an interviewer is to think carefully about what you are looking for and then whether your current technique will find that. Because most interviewers wind up actually selecting for something irrelevant to what they want to be selecting for.

    Note to self: my knowledge of problems that interviewers have is from scattered sources, I should locate a good book on the topic and read it...recommendations would be appreciated.

      I think it's still important to look for emotions, interest and sociability. You just have to be more subtle about it with introverts or people nervous in interviews.

      With regard to being careful what you select for, I'd have to agree with sfink that personality is a big factor. If someone's personality is going to impact negatively on the workplace then you must consider that. Regardless of technical or other skills.

      I'm an introvert but I can usually put on the extrovert suit for job interviews. I'd probably play with the interactive screen for a bit then tell them why it's still no good.

      Caring for Your Introvert
      Shy people are anxious or frightened or self-excoriating in social settings; introverts generally are not.
      That's his take at least (and mine).

      Not to mention the potential numbers of programmers with Asperger Syndrome:

      It's a familiar joke in the industry that many of the hardcore programmers in IT strongholds like Intel, Adobe, and Silicon Graphics - coming to work early, leaving late, sucking down Big Gulps in their cubicles while they code for hours - are residing somewhere in Asperger's domain. Kathryn Stewart, director of the Orion Academy, a high school for high-functioning kids in Moraga, California, calls Asperger's syndrome "the engineers' disorder." Bill Gates is regularly diagnosed in the press: His single-minded focus on technical minutiae, rocking motions, and flat tone of voice are all suggestive of an adult with some trace of the disorder. Dov's father told me that his friends in the Valley say many of their coworkers "could be diagnosed with ODD - they're odd." In Microserfs, novelist Douglas Coupland observes, "I think all tech people are slightly autistic."
      (Steve Silberman. 2003. "The Geek Syndrome", in Wired.)


        I am somewhat dubious of the amount of that which is theorized to exist.

        No, I am not dubious that Asperger's Syndrome exists. Or that it could be positively correlated with being a geek.

        But my observation of psychologists is that they go through fads of diagnosis. I would bet that a lot of kids who are currently being diagnosed would not have been diagnosed a few years ago, and most would not be so diagnosed in a few years. Most are probably within the normal range of human behaviour and are just fine. Remember that psychology is the "profession" which was responsible for mass misdiagnoses of childhood abuse (see False Memory Syndrome), electroshock therapy, frontal lobotomies, etc, etc, etc. While I acknowledge the difficulties in establishing a real science of human behaviour (the lack of useful models much simpler than a human is a non-trivial problem), I reserve a substantial amount of doubt on their claims.

        This goes double when their claims allow non-technical people to take pot-shots at people who are otherwise put on a pedestal. (People have a strong tendancy to avoid uncomfortable comparisons with others, typically either by elevating the others to a god-like status where you don't have to compare, or by cutting the idol down to subhuman status so that the comparison is more comfortable.)

        But this is a generalized level of doubt. I have not done more than read the general articles and had a gut level reaction. If I cared then I would look into it farther. Until then I don't know, but am unconvinced that self-proclaimed experts know either.

        Disclaimer: As a kid I was diagnosed as having childhood schizophrenia by someone who was thought to be an expert on the topic. For a variety of reasons I am confident that the diagnosis was ridiculously wrong. And that initial experience may have permanently biased me on the topic of psychologists...

      I am wary of an assertion that begins with Research indicates that don't contain a citation (and many that do). Especially when followed by a broad generalization about personality types.

      -- am
        My apologies. I wrote that while awake by insomnia, and I didn't want to go rummaging around in unpacked boxes of books for Professional Software Development or The Psychology of Computer Programming (Silver Anniversary Edition) both of which cite the results of testing programmers with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test, and contrasts that with the general public. (IIRC introverts outnumber extroverts by about 3 to 1 among programmers, which is exactly the reverse of the general public. But don't quote me on that because I don't have those books beside me now either.) But you are right that I should be more specific so that people can double-check claims like that. I also tend to not be sympathetic to claims that sound like unsubstantiated broad generalizations.

        Incidentally I should note that I am in the minority of programmers who are extroverts.

Re: Number 1 mistake to not avoid during an interview
by Daruma (Curate) on Sep 18, 2003 at 09:30 UTC
    Greetings, sfink!

    Where should I send my resume?

    I agree with you that I would like to see some enthusiasm and excitement about the project my team will be developing or maintaining.

    I am a trainer by trade and tend to be boisterous by nature. I would think you will find someone who has some emotion and is not afraid to show it. Unfortunately, they may have received advice or counseling that leads them otherwise.

    Is it clear to the applicant that "9 out of 10 people who see this cannot contain their enthusiasm"? Do they realize that team members on this project must "demonstrate constant facination with the end result"?

    It is easy for me to say that RIGHT NOW, I would be happily enthusiastic about working on a project like yours, but I have a job. If I were without employment and trying to support a family, I might be very careful (and thus reserved) in my approach to potential employers.

    Good luck in finding someone!

Re: Number 1 mistake to not avoid during an interview
by skx (Parson) on Sep 18, 2003 at 13:48 UTC

     I remember being in an interview a few years ago where I was shown the companies flagship product.

     As it was concerning a field I knew very little about my immediate, out loud reaction, was "Ewww what a nasty colour scheme!"

     I was as suprised as anybody else when I got the job.

     (In all my time at that position the nasty colour scheme for the flagship product stayed the same. Though I grew less upset by it).

    Topically looking for a SysAdmin position in Edinburgh..
Re: Number 1 mistake to not avoid during an interview
by blue_cowdawg (Monsignor) on Sep 18, 2003 at 14:41 UTC

        So why do people feel compelled to display about as much emotion as they do when filing their fingernails? Is this supposed to be "professionalism"?
    I once intereviewed a candidate for a Unix Engineering position whom I asked if he wanted a cup of coffee. I thought that I was being nice and thought he'd loosen up a bit and after all what Unix professional doesn't drink lots caffeine on a constant basis?

    His answer to me floored me. I expected maybe "yeah that would be great" or "no thanks I don't touch the stuff" or something like that. Nope! His answer to me was "No! I came to interview for a job not drink coffee and engage in small talk!"

    Needless to say the interview did not progress too much further. I expect some social graces from co-workers...

    Peter L. Berghold -- Unix Professional
    Peter at Berghold dot Net
       Dog trainer, dog agility exhibitor, brewer of fine Belgian style ales. Happiness is a warm, tired, contented dog curled up at your side and a good Belgian ale in your chalice.

    Edit by tye, change /u to /ul

      I once went for an interview were the interviewer was the one who wasn't comfortable to speak (he was a techie as well, and assigned to do the interview because he happened to visit a customer in Amsterdam, and that was cheaper than to fly me to London). The whole interview lasted 10 minutes, and that included ordering coffee. I remember the one technical question: Suppose someone comes to you saying they can't telnet to a certain box, what do you do?. To which I answered I'd go over and read the error message.

      I got the job.


      When I am at an interview then coffee is a must. Or rather ... the mug is a must. When I started looking for job first I used to refuse coffee, I guess I was simply too nervous. Later on I found out that beeing the introvert I am I actually need the mug to hide behind. This may sound silly at first, but I don't have to worry what do I do with my hands since I hold the mug, if I need time to think about something I can sip the coffee to look occupied, and all in all I just feel safer.

      Always code as if the guy who ends up maintaining your code will be a violent psychopath who knows where you live.
         -- Rick Osborne

      Edit by castaway: Closed small tag in signature

      I once intereviewed a candidate for a Unix Engineering position whom I asked if he wanted a cup of coffee.

      I say if you drink the stuff, you may as well find out early on if what you'll be drinking day in and day out is palatable...then again, no matter how bad it is, I guess you'll get used to it...

Re: Number 1 mistake to not avoid during an interview
by EdwardG (Vicar) on Sep 18, 2003 at 14:56 UTC

    When I was a boy of maybe 8 or 9 I remember many occasions where I would enthusiastically approach a potential friend (any kid in the playground) with what I thought was an hilarious opening line. Usually something absurdist; my childish version of a Python sketch for instance.

    I made a few great friends (one is still a friend almost 25 years later), but I also had a lot of misses. Actually, mostly I had misses, nearly all the time.

    What my young self didn't realise was that my enthusiatic wavelength was not a universal constant. In other words, and to mangle a metaphor, it is very hard to surf with someone if you can't catch their wave.

    Of course, now that I'm practically perfect in every way1, I realise that before I can interact freely with another, I have to establish some kind of connection. I have to break the ice, so to speak, and take a long cold swim around in their personal pond2.

    Here at PerlMonks, it's easy - "Hi, I'm EdwardG, and I'm addicted to perl". But regular social interaction (say for instance at a party) is a slightly harder wheel to get turning, takes a little more social lubricant, but overall it's something most folk can deal with.

    And getting that damn wheel turning at an interview takes a whole lot more lubricant than most folks carry without embarrassment. Within the confines of usually just a few hours, both the Interviewer and the Interviewee want to go from strangers to confidantes. Takes some courage and more than a few personal risks on both sides.

    But on balance I would say that the Interviewee has more at stake than the Interviewer (certainly personally, perhaps professionally, and perhaps monetarily). Sure the Interviewer is perhaps looking to make a large financial and professional commitment, but the personal stakes are not evenly matched.

    And that's why I strongly believe that it's up to the Interviewer to make the bigger effort.

    1I share this quality with Mary Poppins

    2Sorry, I have a bad habit of overstretching metaphors

      When I interview for a programmer, I don't want to reject them just because I wasn't able to tune in to their wavelength. Maybe it would be different if I was interviewing people for a job in sales or PR or marketing, but not for a programming job. I want technical skills and aptitude first and foremost, I believe I can work around the rest.
      Yes and no. For one, the very best reason to reject somebody is because you can't tune in to their wavelength -- not in terms of enthusiasm, but in terms of communication. (And yes, I realize you were referring to the enthusiasm wavelength. Bear with me.) It is far more likely for someone to gain technical skills on the job than communication skills.

      There's a quote for this. Something like "people are hired for their abilities, and fired for their personalities." I have rarely observed anyone getting laid off or fired for their inability to handle the technical work adequately, but I have known several people who were gotten rid of for not working well with the team, politicking, refusing to pick up their share of the crap work, etc.

      I need people who I can communicate with and who create an environment where we can all develop our ideas and explore the available options. This is possible if some team members are much less technically apt than others, but it is not if some team members are bored, unwilling, or negatively competitive. An excited moron drags the company down only by sucking up salary. An uncooperative genius may do great work individually, but lowers the productivity of everyone else. For anything bigger than a two- or three-person company, that's far worse.

      In short, for a technical job I want communication and enthusiasm first and foremost. I believe I can work around the rest.

      ...I realise that before I can interact freely with another, I have to establish some kind of connection...
      The term you're looking for here is 'rapport'. It's a word that is remarkably offensive to some people, as it suggests a certain shallowness to interpersonal communications to them. It's really not the case -- it's a question of whether the person speaking to you sets you at ease through the use of a myriad of things -- posture, tone, verbiage, etc. -- or whether they are unfamiliar to you, cause you discomfort, etc.

      You are what you think.

        Thanks, rapport is exactly the word.

        But as you say, it comes loaded with connotations and images of salesfolk bearing Shit-Eating GrinsTM, which isn't quite the idea I wanted to describe.
      Here at PerlMonks, it's easy - "Hi, I'm EdwardG, and I'm addicted to perl". But regular social interaction (say for instance at a party) is a slightly harder wheel to get turning, takes a little more social lubricant, but overall it's something most folk can deal with.

      Pish posh. It's super easy to walk up to someone at a party and say "Hi, I'm Nkuvu, and I'm addicted to Perl".

      Oh, unless you were referring to the effectiveness of said opening line...

Re: Number 1 mistake to not avoid during an interview
by Anonymous Monk on Sep 18, 2003 at 05:28 UTC
    don't conceal your enthusiasm.

    I would fear my enthusiasm would be construed as childish. Like "Hey coool! This machine is really neat!". Most programmers would never react this way in an interview. They want to seem calm and reserved, and I don't blame them. In general, people want to confirm stereotypes, not break from them. Stereotypes make us feel comfortable.

      But do you want to work for people like that? I one hired someone because they said, "I want to come into work and see people who are happy to be here." She ended up being one of the best people we've ever hired. Only drones look for other drones.

        Jesus H. Christ, man! "Only drones look for other drones!" Nobody who is a drone thinks they're a drone.

        Some people have decided they are defined by things other than their job, and after that decision it's very easy to decide that your choice of job doesn't really matter. It's very easy to look for stability and a so-so work environment and call it good enough.

        The pinnacle of work is a job you love that pays well. On either side of that pinnacle are jobs you love that pay poorly (or just barely enough), or jobs you dislike but are steady, stable, well-paying jobs. Further down that mountain are jobs that suck on all counts but are the only jobs in the area, etc. Some of us don't have the luxury of working somewhere that's worth working at and pleasant, and some people literally do not care.

        Nobody, but nobody, calls themself a 'drone', unless it's some sort of derogatory internal dialogue. People think of themselves as dedicated parents working a job that sucks for the good of their children, or they need work to do to subdue the buzzing in their head, or whatever -- but they don't seek droneage out.

        You are what you think.

        A reply falls below the community's threshold of quality. You may see it by logging in.
Re: Number 1 mistake to not avoid during an interview
by Ovid (Cardinal) on Sep 18, 2003 at 15:32 UTC

    While I can't say that I think your suggestion is a hard and fast rule (people vary too much for this to be the case), I think part of the reason I landed my current job is because I was practically drooling over it in the job interview. The company is large enough to handle setbacks, they have a decent-sized tech department that does test-driven development, pair programming and is almost pure Perl. What finally made me excited as heck about taking the job is when they started describing some of the technical hurdles they had to deal with. At one point, an interviewer was talking about how they deal with data entry people who type "Terminator" instead of "Terminator II", thus causing problems figuring out which movie the data is for. I immediately started asking questions about how they were solving the problem and started discussing possible alternatives. I'm sure that enthusiasm is part of why I am here.

    Interestingly, now that I get to see more of what they do, I've turned to a different problem. They have a wide variety of problems where they need to infer Y from X, but despite having an obvious correlation, there is no clear algorithm to determine the answer. As a result, in my spare time, I'm working on a neural network in C (and discovering how bad my C is) to solve these problems. That's what makes enthusiasm pay off. The problems are so so much fun that I'm charging ahead on my own initiative on something that might benefit the company.


    New address of my CGI Course.

Re: Number 1 mistake to not avoid during an interview
by hardburn (Abbot) on Sep 18, 2003 at 13:51 UTC

    The problem I have with most interview advice is that for every must do/must not do rule anybody has ever told me, there's an interviewer somewhere who would kick you right out of the building for it. I'd love to be able to play with your company's displays--it'd probably end up being one of the best interviews I've ever been on. But I doubt I could do it, because I've been drilled by various people over the years that job interviews are supposed to be the height of professionalism.

    I wanted to explore how Perl's closures can be manipulated, and ended up creating an object system by accident.
    -- Schemer

    Note: All code is untested, unless otherwise stated

      Having recently went through a series of interviews (as the inverviewee, not the interviewer), I can only give you one piece of advice: be yourself. I don't dress up for an interview (although I scrape the mud from my boots) for instance. (If they want to hire shiny clothes, let them buy a dress-up doll, that's cheaper). Just be honest in what you like and don't like, what you know and don't know, what you want to do, and what you don't want to do.

      As for interview questions, one of the best questions I ever got was (I was interviewing for a Perl position): So tell me, what don't you like about Perl, and how would you change it, after which we had a nice conversation about the object system in Perl. Another inverviewer (for the same position) came with a whiteboard and said write me a program finding files with <some criterium> (and don't use a module that does all the work for you).


        While I respect your thoughts, I have to point something out - there are those who have stature and those who don't. I'm almost 28 years old. I have been programming professionally for almost 10 years, but only graduated from college less than 5 years ago. I know Perl practically inside and out. I have added value to companies even if I've only been there for 3 months.

        Yet, I have a lot of trouble getting interviews. Why? Because my resume seems junior cause I am so relatively young. I need every little advantage I can get. If wearing a suit and tie gives me an extra percentage point in the interviewer's head, I need it. I'm going up against people who have 20+ years in the business.

        That's people like you, Abigail-II. You have the luxury of wearing business-casual to an interview because you have a resume longer than you are tall. I don't, and I suspect most people here don't, either. With the IT job market the way it is, I'm lucky if I get an interview. There are thousands of people with 10+, 15+, and 20+ years of experience. They get the interviews, not us young guns.

        Now, I don't blame the hiring companies. If I could get a 20+ year professional at a 3-year price, I'd do it in a heartbeat. But, I cannot afford to seem young, brash, and unprofessional for those few face-to-faces I can squeak into.

        We are the carpenters and bricklayers of the Information Age.

        The idea is a little like C++ templates, except not quite so brain-meltingly complicated. -- TheDamian, Exegesis 6

        Please remember that I'm crufty and crochety. All opinions are purely mine and all code is untested, unless otherwise specified.

Re: Number 1 mistake to not avoid during an interview
by Rex(Wrecks) (Curate) on Sep 18, 2003 at 17:33 UTC
    This is good advice, but needs to be tempered with common sense :)

    I once interviewed a person who was so enthusiastic that after the answer to the first question was not finished after 10 minutes of babbling, I had to cut them off, and this continued (with shorter intervals, I do learn :) after every question. Normally I have the opposite problem, people don't give enough information, this person was so excited...well there was no way I could ever imagine working with someone like that on a Monday morning :)

    "Nothing is sure but death and taxes" I say combine the two and its death to all taxes!
Re: Number 1 mistake to not avoid during an interview
by kutsu (Priest) on Sep 18, 2003 at 17:27 UTC

    How do you define enthusiasm?

    In my current job, I code in perl, java, html, and VB (currently removing the last one). I am what you would call enthusiastic about the perl and java jobs I have to do, I even work on them at home - I just don't show it. I'm not saying you shouldn't show enthusiasm, just relize that some people, for various reasons, don't show emotion very well, yet can both communicate with others and may be brilliant in whatever job there trying to fill.

    "Pain is weakness leaving the body, I find myself in pain everyday" -me

Re: Number 1 mistake to not avoid during an interview
by demerphq (Chancellor) on Sep 21, 2003 at 16:14 UTC

    This thread reminds me off a story I was once told. It seems that at some point in the selection process for submariners there is/was a tricky test for the potential applicant. The test involves being left in a waiting room full of electronics equipment, supposedly to wait for a one on one interview with an officer of some sort. The equipment is nice and shiny and has flashing lights and stuff. After a certain point one the pieces of equipment starts beeping, or appears to do something unusual. If the applicant in the room touches the equipement it starts doing even more unusual things. The test ends when the person waiting is called into the other room and asked a few trivial questions in a friendly way.

    Touching the equipement and not immediately reporting that you did, causes outright rejection. Not touching the equipement but asking about its function was a minor demerit. Completely ignoring the equipment and not even asking about it was the only way to get a good result.

    People in interviews are always on guard for trickery. I certainly wouldnt express anything more than modest enthusiasm and definately wouldnt touch anything in a job interview until I was well briefed about what it involved. Coffee, on the other hand is and would be gratefully recieved. :-)


    <Elian> And I do take a kind of perverse pleasure in having an OO assembly language...
Re: Number 1 mistake to not avoid during an interview
by Cody Pendant (Prior) on Sep 19, 2003 at 01:32 UTC
    I went on a training course for people who interview other staff, and the key issue is that you've got to get them to tell stories.

    Testing their competence is one thing, of course they should be able to prove their knowledge of Perl or whatever, but in order to get to know their personality and how they feel about work, you have to get them to tell a story about stuff they've worked on.

    Did you ever work somewhere with tight deadlines? Talk to us about it.

    Have you ever worked with a co-worker who you just couldn't stand? Tell us about it.

    Have you ever disagreed strongly with a manager about the way a project was handled? Tell us about it, and so on.

    That's why "what's the longest you've ever spent in front of a computer?" is a great question -- whatever the answer, there must be a story.

    ($_='kkvvttuubbooppuuiiffssqqffssmmiibbddllffss') =~y~b-v~a-z~s; print
      Oh my god, they teach you to ask those questions? I have been on the recieving end of those kinds of questions for a couple of years now (being young, and lacking qualifications & employment) and they are so incredibly boring to answer. I have actually answered these, more than once, 'Its not going to be one of those interviews, is it?'

      I totally agree with your idea that candidates should be coerced into telling stories, but those questions make me and a few other people I know cringe with horror. Please, dont use them. Although the last one about how long youv'e spent in front of a computer is pretty cool, I remember this one time at university...


Re: Number 1 mistake to not avoid during an interview
by bart (Canon) on Sep 18, 2003 at 14:18 UTC
    People that seem pretty excited when you first meet them, are generally regarded as nuts. It's a very bad first impression.

    Need I say more?

Re: Number 1 mistake to not avoid during an interview
by Anonymous Monk on Sep 18, 2003 at 11:33 UTC

    The title should really be "Number 1 mistake to avoid during an interview".

    to not avoid, apart from being gramatically unsound, is a double negation, since "avoid" means "to take action not to do something or to prevent something from happening."

      Unless the author was referring to being excited as something that people consider a 'mistake', in which case it would be a good thing to not avoid being excited. It's probably a typo, but it would be more additonally funner if it wasn't.
        Give me a little credit, people! :-)

        The title was a play on the recent series of "Top NNN things..." posts around here -- in this case, I was thinking of "Number 1 mistake to avoid during an interview."

        Okay, so maybe a triple negative was a little much. Well, just double really, but double + sarcastic "mistake" is almost a triple. I guess I ought to have put quotes around "mistake" or something.

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