Her eyebrows knot themselves. A pencil grates back and forth on her legal pad. Scratch. Scratch. My back itches; a tiny incessant itch that demands more attention with each passing second. Should I itch it?
I can hear the sound of a clock ticking somewhere else in the office. Tick. Tick. Tick. I’m still wondering whether I should scratch my back.
“Can you describe any relevant background experience you have for the position?” Her eyebrows unknot themselves expectantly.
“Well, I’ve been programming since I was 10 years old,” I start.
“What languages?” She cuts me off before I can finish.
“It says here you went to the University of Pennsylvania for undergrad. Were you an engineer there?”
“No I actually studied Philosophy in the College of Arts and Sciences, but I did take some computer sciences classes there.” Fuck. I look like an asshole.
“Which classes?” She retorts. Eyebrows slightly furrowed.
I list a few of them that I can remember. Mostly intro ones. I didn’t go to them very much.
“I see,” she says. Her pencil hovers over the pad again.
“But I did do a lot of programming in school,” I start. If she marks her pad one more time I’m done for. “Freshman year I started a website with some friends called WhereMyFriends.Be. We got over 40,000 signups. That was in Mashable. I also interviewed at Y Combinator. Then sophomore year I built a site called DomainPolish and sold it in a few months. That was in TheNextWeb. And then I created Airtime for Email with a few friends. I’m not sure if you took a look at the articles I attached with my resume. We raised a bunch of money, and we were profitable. Eventually we had to shut it down but it was a great experience.” At this point she must know that I’m well qualified for this job.
She clears her throat and puts the pencil down.
“Dan, can I be honest with you about this position?” She glances up at me with a concerned look on her face.
“I applaud your entrepreneurial initiative, I really do. In fact three of my coworkers ran funded companies as well so I understand what kind of drive and dedication it takes to do something like that,” she starts in.
“And I see that you also have some technical experience. But this position requires more than just web-development skills. The problems we’re working on involve in-depth data analysis that require an extensive math and algorithms background. Most of the people applying studied computer science in school and have relevant work experience in that area. Can you point to any experience in that area?”
“Not specifically, but I mean I’m sure I can learn on the fly,” I reply sheepishly. At this point anything I say is like spitting into a hurricane.
“Believe me I’m sure you could. A few years ago building an app or a website was enough to get you a job at a lot of different companies. But it’s not like that anymore. We just have too many qualified candidates to take a chance on someone with limited in-depth technical experience. This is 2016 not 2012.”
The pencil hovers over the pad again. Scratch.