The software interview breakup

by Randy Gingeleski

3 minutes to read

Some three months ago I decided I wanted a new job, that I was going back to New York. And this time I was serious.

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I got all the usual books but did most of my studying on InterviewBit.

After a good month of that I landed a phone interview with a prestigious New York finance company. That was perfect because finance, like security and game theory, is a big side interest of mine.

It was exciting. I got super nervous for the phone interview, and that went kind of shaky. A first date.

Three weeks went by - I thought it wasn’t happening. Then I got called for an on-site. I had a month before that and went really hard preparing.

The night before and the morning of were really stressful. But I knew what to do. I took some nootropics, practiced algorithm fundamentals, rehearsed my explanatory and behavioral answers.

I listened to _I Believe I Can Fly_ and _The Time is Now_ like four dozen times.

Then I put on a tie and walked uptown. Got there appropriately early, noticing there were some other people there for a software interview… then that turned into 16 people.

That’s okay, they’re probably hiring a lot of engineers. I talked with this one guy from Canada and we became temporary buddies for the tour.

Then it was showtime. We all sat in this big conference room, employees coming to get us one by one.

The setup was an hour’s interview with an initial person, then a lunch break, then another hour with someone else. Okay.

Person 1 and I got off to a good start. I went through my resume, my rehearsed answers paying off. Then I initially struggled with the first algorithm, but got through with a few hints. He asked about optimization and I got that. He asked another, shorter algo question and I got that.

Lunch break. Don’t throw up.

Person 2 came in and I completely pwned everything he gave me.

I walked out of the building feeling really good. I texted my parents and a couple good friends that I thought I made it. I was elated. I went out for prime rib that night.

Except, almost two weeks later, no, I didn’t get it. Mentally all my eggs had been in that basket. Now they were scrambled. It would’ve been the perfect career move, for my career and otherwise.

I’d felt this way before, when my first serious girlfriend and I stopped talking. Then I started developing mental systems for dealing with things, I guess. And at this moment in life I care more about myself than girls.

Part of me wanted to cry, part of me wanted to have the Air Force whisk me away to work cyber command, part of me wanted to move back to New York anyway and try to make it work. I didn’t end up doing any of those.

After about four hours I got it together. (Gorilla Mindset)

A friend was having a tougher time. He was about to leave town too, was all set up, but got a DWI. It’s (likely) closed the door to his opportunity entirely.

We’d gotten together to talk because of the parallels to our situations. At least I didn’t have a charge like his floating over me. The legal bills, the car damage.

For me, it’d just take longer than I thought to leave my cubicle.

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