Improve your chances of survival at Job Interviews and Public Speaking

Each one of us needs to talk about our work at one point or another in our career.

If no other time, then when we apply for a new job.

How can you be better at that?

Job Interviews

One of the common questions in job interviews for some kind of Software developer position is asking the candidates about their most recent or most interesting software project.

The interviewer lets them talk about the project. Then ask what kind of problems have they encountered during the development and how did they solve them?

Not only will this show the understanding of the project, it will also allow the interviewer to see the communication skills of the candidate.

Being able to fluently talk about your projects will give a clear advantage in job interviews.

Being able to do that in English, especially if your mother tongue is some other language, will give you extra points.

Public Speaking

Going further, if you give presentations about a project you've been involved in will also help you land those job interviews in the first place. Every person who hear you talking will be able to recommend you in their company. You can also brag about your public appearances in your CV.

Improve your chances

So, how can you practice talking about your project and what if you only worked on proprietary projects none of which you can talk about?

Let's start with the second part.

You can, of course, start contributing to an Open Source project. That would also improve your knowledge. Even if you don't have time for this, you can do something about it.

You surely have used some kind of an Open Source project in your work. Maybe an Open Source programming language? An Open Source library of that languages? Maybe a framework. A public API or specification? You can talk about any of these.

But how to start? Especially if you are anxious? What if you make a mistake when giving a talk? There are quite a few things you can do to help with that.

Confession of a Public Speaker

You can start by watching this video of Scott Berkun talking about his book Confession of a Public Speaker. Better yet, buy and read that book. I even took the liberty and took some notes during another Scott Berkun presentation about the Confession of a Public Speaker.

Talk to yourself, to friends, and to family

Prepare a talk and give it to your significant other. Or a friend.

Better yet, give the talk in-front of a camera and record your talk. It will take a lot of failures till you get the talk right, but it is worth it.

Then watch yourself talking. It will be strange. It is really strange to everyone. Even to experienced public speakers. You'll see all kind of creepy behavior on yourself that normally you don't notice. You can either try to correct those, or accept them as part of you.

The best might be to limit the length of the talk to 5 or 10 minutes. Later, when you are confident enough you can try longer ones.

Ask a friend to do a fake job interview with you and ask all kinds of questions.


Prepare a screencast. Record the screen while you are doing something and explain it. This is difficult. You'll have to decide if you'd like to record the video an talk at the same time or if you prefer to record the video first and then record the audio afterwards.

Both has their advantages and disadvantages.

You don't have to publish these, but doing so will give you a lot of extra value and extra energy.

Meetings and meetings

Give a talk at a near-by Meetup or Perl Monger group or PyLadies or Django Girls or any of the other groups.

Write Speak Code is a great initiative focusing on Women Software Developers to improve their Visibility and Leadership. Contact them.

If you are a newbie in programming the CodeNewbie project might have something for you.

If you are more experienced and a woman and looking for a conference to talk at. Look around at the Callback Woman web site and follow the @callbackwoman on Twitter.

Joint a Toastmasters club.

Code-Maven interviews

Talk to me about Open Source Interview. I'd love to help you get started. Recording such an interview is probably much easier than any of the above. We can prepare a few questions up-front and then we just have a chat. If it makes you more comfortable we can both grab a tea on our end of Skype and feel as if we were just having a casual chat in a coffee shop.