Humble feedback to intern candidates

I have had the opportunity to interview a few candidates for an intern position at my current job. It has been a great experience and I wanted to capture a few thoughts that have been emerging through out the process. I have already talked a bit about it but I want to expand.

So many technologies

The candidates listed a huge amount of technologies they have been exposed to. I'd suggest you keep that list to a minimum and are prepared to explain what those technologies are (almost all of them failed on that) and what problem they solve. Also, make sure you rank your expertise on the technology. Go purposely through your list and practice explaining to yourself what they are and what they are used for.

Listen and answer the questions

I notice some of the candidates either did not answered some of the questions we asked or they were too hyperbolic. My advice is to listen carefully and ask the interviewer to repeat the question if necessary.


In the technical side, confidence comes from deep understanding. Deep understand comes from working hard and long on a problem. If you have worked on a project for a few months you have to be able to explain confidently the project -at least at high level. Here is again another opportunity to practice.

There is also the language barrier component. For most of the candidates English is not their first language. And that makes things harder, specially on a context like this. My only advice here is, keep practicing, reading and writing. Try to pay attention on your day by day interactions to see in what you can improve. Ask your friends to give you feedback on your speaking. For me it took a while to get comfortable speaking in English. Be patient. Be persistent.

If you are late

You should not be late to the interview, but if you are late, do not blame external factors. Blame yourself, apologize and move on.

Chillout and be yourself

This is also on me. As an interviewer you have to do your best to create a comfortable environment for the candidate to give her best potential. I tried to do my best but I am not sure I succeeded. But nonetheless, as a candidate, try to do your best to stay calm. Nerves are not going to help you at all. Remember, you are just talking with another group of human beings that have the same struggles as you do. Be yourself.

Follow up with a thank you

Find out the email of your interviewers and send an email thanking them for giving you the opportunity to interview and letting them know you are available to any more questions they may have.


The missing semester is an invaluable resource to gather knowledge on topics that are probably not covered in your degree yet are required when working on a software engineering position. I encourage you to not only read it but incorporate the knowledge you gather in your daily tasks. Again, take your time, do not try to assimilate all the materials in a few days.

Candidates were interested in data visualization and they have at least one class that exposed them to the topic. It seemed the tool of choice to practice the materials was Tableau. I have nothing against it but I'd like to suggest other environments (particularly the web) as platform to develop visualizations. One of the reasons is that you will have a much fine grained control when building your visualizations. You will have a pixel level control if you use things like canvas. Your imagination is the limit.

If you want to learn more, I'd recommend the data visualization class from professor Jeffrey Heer.

Thank you all for applying!

drio out!