Take the 2-minute tour ×
The Workplace Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for members of the workforce navigating the professional setting. It's 100% free, no registration required.

How do I stop worrying about being good enough for my new job? I recently interviewed for a .NET developer role. They asked me some technical questions at interview, most of which I wasn't able to answer. I assumed that they were looking for a more experienced developer. However, they have recently called and offered me the job. I slept on it, but decided to accept, however, now I am panicking that I am not going to be able to do the job.

I have a job which I like, but which is a lower level. I don't want to leave this role and then find that I'm forced out of the next one in my 3 month probation period for not knowing what they expect me to know.

What can I do to quickly adapt to a new role which appears to require knowledge that I don't yet have?

share|improve this question

closed as primarily opinion-based by Jim G., gnat, CMW, jcmeloni, jmac Jan 18 at 7:36

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

    
I should add. I have worked in .NET development for 2 years in a mainly stand-alone role. I can get things up and running, but not necessarily showing best practice. –  user115127 Jan 17 at 16:18
1  
Thanks Joe, a little bit, but not a lot. I suppose that this is the first job that I haven't gone in to as a complete beginner, and working alone, I have had no-one to compare my coding skills to - I'm worried that this is going to be too much for me. –  user115127 Jan 17 at 16:23
    
Why are you afraid of being let go during a probation period. At the end of the day you gain work experience. If you got the job they feel like you can do what they will asked of you, you will either be required to train yourself so you can do the job, or they will provide the training to do so. –  Ramhound Jan 17 at 16:41
2  
"Best Practice" is an art that borders on religion, and not nearly as much a science as many would like to pretend. Show up ready to learn, and specifically, learn "Their way." They feel you have the talent. You need to show them you have the right attitude. A "teachable" new hire who is green is worth a lot more than a "veteran" who can't adapt to their environment. BTW - the above are two squares in a large matrix, not points on a line. Don't think I'm typecasting everyone. –  Wesley Long Jan 17 at 16:50
3  
Thanks Ramhound and Wesley. I'm reminding myself that if I get sacked during my probation period that it isn't the end of the world. I will rock up and do my best and see what happens! –  user115127 Jan 17 at 16:54
show 3 more comments

9 Answers 9

up vote 37 down vote accepted

Relax.

This is what career growth feels like. You're taking on a role that's a little bigger than you're used to and it's making you uncomfortable.

The fact that you're worried is somewhat of a good thing because it means you're not overconfident and you'll pay close attention to a lot of details.

As Joe noted in the comments, the company believes in you enough to hire you.

When you get there, do the best job you possibly can. Listen carefully to what people tell you and ask you to do, and take written notes if necessary.

If you find you're lacking a bit in some technical area, treat that as just one more problem to solve and get to it. Learning a new programming language or technology is a hassle, but it's part of the industry we're in.

share|improve this answer
    
Hi Dan, thanks for the considered answer. I will turn up and do my best and trust that everything will turn out okay... –  user115127 Jan 17 at 16:55
    
This is a great answer. –  Paul Jan 18 at 6:33
    
the company believes in you enough to hire you - exactly. You couldn't answer the technical questions at the interview and they made you an offer anyway? This means that they think you're a smart and capable person who doesn't not yet have the specific experience. It's a lot easier for a smart and capable person to gain that experience than for an idiot with experience to magically become smart! –  Carson63000 Jan 18 at 7:56
add comment

How do I stop worrying about being good enough for my new job?

It's 100% normal about being anxious about a new anything. That's how most people are. Doesn't matter if it's a job or location to live.

Has anyone had any experience in this situation or any ideas for what I can do?

Realize:

  1. Nearly everyone feels similar about new jobs. If you take a job you are 100% comfortable with, you won't grow or learn. Knowing everyone goes through a similar "woah so much to learn" period is helpful
  2. Don't be afraid to ask for help when needed. No one expects you to come onboard and be 100% functional day 1.
  3. If you missed questions in the interview, they obviously know you are not perfect - this should give you some comfort in their decision to hire you.
share|improve this answer
add comment

What a coincidence! I was in this exact position this past month. I interviewed at the job and did 50-50, and I felt I kind of blew it. They called me later that day and offered me the job. I felt very nervous and scared my first month. In my previous job I also worked alone and didn't use best practices. Here these guys have a large code base, using lots of design patterns and stuff. I was very scared my first week, but slowly I realized that it isn't so hard. In fact, a few of the tasks they gave me, they expected to take around 2 weeks, I was able to finish them within a week.

This is what I can recommend:

  1. Ask the recruiter involved for feedback. Ask them if they got any feedback from the interviewer. What they said about you, etc.
  2. Start looking through the code base, and see how they write the code. Watch and learn. I spent extra time for the first week glancing through the code.
  3. If you are not used to writing "best practices", start learning. No one's perfect. Pick up a book on Object Oriented Design, Design Patterns, Code Complete, and learn. Start applying those to your day to day habits. The Single Responsibility Principle alone has made me a really good programmer.
  4. In your first weeks, the company expects you to make mistakes. So, don't shy away. Ask questions. If there's a code review, look forward to it as a learning opportunity.
  5. Have a friendly chat with your manager. Ask him/her what the expectations are from the role. What you'll be working on. Just tell them you're trying to get the feel for the environment.

This is what I did and this helped me get through. I still won't say I'm perfect, but as a programmer, you're constantly learning and getting better. It's part of the job. Take it as a challenge!

Trust me, only the first couple of weeks are tough. After that, it becomes easier.

share|improve this answer
add comment

If the questions weren't stuff you have to know, but were about how you approach problem solving, they liked what you told them.

If the questions were stuff you have to know, they now know they'll have to give you time and/or assistance to learn it.

Either way, they think you're good enough or they wouldn't have made the offer.

Relax. "If it was easy, they wouldn't need us."

share|improve this answer
add comment

While I am not part of the hiring process for my IT department, the people who are responsible for making hiring decisions (and choosing the questions to ask!) compare notes out loud in our department space.

The very first set of questions presented to each applicant are a set of analysis questions designed to test the applicant's ability to puzzle his or her way through a piece of code they've never seen before. Very few applicants answer these questions perfectly, and it's only when the interviewer feels it's clear that the applicant has no idea what they're doing that these analysis questions strike them out of the running. (With 2 years of experience, you should be capable of passing that kind litmus, even if you aren't 100% on the spot.)

The technical questions asked later in the interview are similarly weighted based on the interviewer's impressions how how "close" the applicant was to the correct answer as well as the position being interviewed for. "Are they trainable?" is a question our manager has asked on several occasions after listening to an interviewer's summary -- maybe the applicant doesn't have the knowledge now, but they have a sufficient base upon which we can build the necessary knowledge.

When I interviewed for my current position, one of the interviewers also presented me with a math problem designed to twist your mind around what it's used to. I failed horribly at answering the question right, but the interviewer was more interested in how I approached the problem, not whether I was a math whiz.

And of course the interviewers also care that you'll get along with the working environment, which has nothing to do with your technical skills at all. One of the questions asked of me was what I'd do if one of my coworkers shot me with a Nerf gun, for example. (Short Nerf battles break out on a daily basis in my department.)

share|improve this answer
    
The math problem in question was: Using only basic arithmetic (+, -, *, /) and the numbers 1, 3, 4, and 6 exactly once each, produce 24. The first response I had was to ensure I couldn't include string concatenation. –  Brian S Jan 17 at 22:28
add comment

(Pathachiever11's comment above is my favorite answer so far)

You ask:

"How do I stop worrying about being good enough for my new job?"

Then you state:

"I don't want to leave this role and then find that I'm forced out of the next one in my 3 month probation period for not knowing what they expect me to know."

So is the real issue about feeling good enough or is it your fear of losing your job without a safety net? A good question to ask yourself is, "If I had two years worth of income in the bank, how worried would I be going into this new job?"

Questions:

  1. What sparked you to look for a new job in the first place? More money? More challenge? Career growth?
  2. Why did you choose to go on an interview for a skill-set you knew you would need to brush up on fast?
  3. Do you truly enjoy .NET development or do you tolerate doing it for the money? Is this your passion or just a means to an end?

Knowing what motivated you in the first place can help you analyze whether or not this is a good career move.


Questions:

  1. How much research did you do on the front end to learn about the company's culture and attrition rate? Previous employees who are on LinkedIn are a great resource to ask. If they have been gone over a year, most are willing to speak with you for 5 minutes and give you their honest feedback on the pros and cons of working there.
  2. Did you ask if the position was new or a replacement? If it is a replacement, why did the previous person leave/get let go and how long were they in the role? What about the person before them? This will help give you some reassurance or understanding of the risk involved in taking the position. Past behavior often predicts future behavior.

Regarding Your Comment About...

"I don't want to leave this role and then find that I'm forced out of the next one in my 3 month probation"

  1. Knowing as much as you can about the role, their expectations of you during the first few months will help ease your concern here. It's the not knowing that causes us to stress. Ironically, our personal standards are usually way higher than what is expected of us. We are usually harder on ourselves than others are of us. 'We are our worst critics', as they say.
  2. Find out what the most important and most difficult task/software/process you'll have to learn in order to be successful. There is always one "thing" in a new job that is the hardest to figure out. For me at my company, it was the software we use to manage candidates. Crazy complicating and I had to generate revenue in the first 90 days so I had to learn FAST. I knew this so I had already been researching the software and ramping up before I even started.
  3. If you were hired through an external recruitment agency as contract-to-hire: Ask your recruiter if this a "try before you buy" CTH situation or if it's a CTH situation where they company simply wanted to pay off the recruiter's fee over 90 days and then convert you. It's important to understand the company's mindset behind why the company went with CTH. In some cases, the client wanted direct hire/perm, but the recruiter is measured on how many hours contractors are working weekly (billable hours) and may have reduced the total feel to so that the CTH route was more appealing. In other words, it may have NOTHING to do with you and was just a sales approach that the recruiter used to get the most out of the transaction.

If through a recruiter, it's in their best interest to do whatever it takes to ensure you adjust and go perm. The recruiter may not get the entire commission owed until you go perm. They are also measured on the number of billable hours they have each week (how many hours contractors work weekly). If the company were to let you go before 90 days, the recruiter would lose 40 hours a week in their reports AND would have to find a replacement. Time = money. The more time the recruiter has to work on filling this position, the less money they make because they could have been working on a new order rather than replacing someone in a previous order. Point? The recruiter WANTS you (NEEDS you) to succeed. They typically do a quality call to the client every week or twice a month. Put on your calendar a reoccurring 15 minute meeting with your Recruiter to get an update or any feedback they have heard from the client on how you're doing.


I agree with Pathachiever11's comment:

Ask the recruiter involved for feedback. Ask them if they got any feedback from the interviewer. What they said about you, etc.

If you can learn straight from the source (the person who made the decision to hire you) WHAT it was that triggered their choice, it will relieve some of the self doubt you're feeling.


Watch, "The Pursuit of Happiness". Against all odds and facing life threatening odds and fears every single day for several months, the character in the movie kept trying...over and over and over.

CONCLUSION:

  1. Figure out what your true motivation was to taking this job.
  2. Then commit to the decision and release the worry because you will need that energy to focus on exceeding expectations daily.
  3. Address the skills you feel you need more training on and start right way. One of my favorites: Lynda.com
  4. Join a meetup group, an online chat group or a LinkedIn Developers group - some sort of group that you can meet with or bounce ideas off of when you feel stuck.
  5. Start looking for a mentor or even several mentors. This takes time if you don't have the contacts in place right now. Identify someone in your field (locally would be great) who is at the top of their game. Start a conversation using whatever platform they use to discuss and share ideas. Build rapport and over time, they will naturally evolved into a mentor-like relationship.

I have a mentor for when I'm negotiating my salary, for when I have an unhealthy conflict with someone at work, for when I need long term career advice, and several mentors that I reach out to when I need to understand an area of my specialization (digital marketing). Without these mentors, I would never had advanced as far as I have in my career.

YOU WANT THE JOB THAT MAKES YOU UNCOMFORTABLE. That where the growth is. Start now to get a support team in place to help you when you get stuck and need a trusted advisor to bounce ideas/concerns off of. If you're feeling unsure of yourself in the first few weeks, trust the process. It means you're right on track. Those first 3 months will fly by and you'll be setting roots in no time!

Wishing you tremendous success in your new job!

share|improve this answer
    
+1 because this is a good answer, but I should point out that your paragraph about probation and benefits and this "25-32%" business seems very location specific. For instance that does not match the meaning of a probation period in my part of the world at all. Given that the OP didn't state where he is, we probably shouldn't get into location (USA?) specific detail like that. –  Carson63000 Jan 18 at 8:01
1  
Carson63000, excellent point. I will rephase my comment. –  Raegan Jan 18 at 14:24
1  
Watch, "The Pursuit of Happiness" -- The link doesn't work, and there 5 films with that title (well, 4 films and a film titled The Pursuit of Happyness). –  Brian S Jan 21 at 14:32
add comment

I understand the concern about being 'good enough' to do the job, but look at this way.

It puts a little more incentive under you to do a great job. Clearly the employer feels you have enough skills to do the job, or they wouldn't have hired you.

Employers will often ask questions of the applicant that they don't really care about the content of the answer, but rather the honestly of the answer from the prospective employee. You clearly answered those questions in a manner they were impressed with, or you wouldn't have been given the job.

I've been a programmer for well over 30 years. During that time, I've seen many people hired that had no real skill set for their job and they knew it, and so did the employer. Often times employers don't actually want or care what your true experience is, rather they want someone who is smart enough to say "I don't have an answer for this right now, but I will research it and find out."

If you got the job, then clearly you have the required skill set, and the right attitude for the job. Stop worrying about it. You have the job already.

When you report to your new job, don't doubt yourself, your new employer clearly doesn't. Sometimes the best answer is, "I don't know right now, but I will find out right away for you."

Another thing that you are probably feeling nervous about is the fact that the new job is above what you are doing right now. That's perfectly normal. You are advancing in your chosen field.

Relax, take a deep breath, show up work a little early every day, be professional, and take pride in your work. Do the best job you can. You're employer will notice this, and that is very important. Especially at a new job.

share|improve this answer
add comment

It depends - are they hiring you as a contractor with option to convert to full time after 3 month? In this case I would turn it down because you may not be hired for the full time position.

I work for a large company and I saw way too many contractors not getting hired after 3 month.

One possible reason why they offered you a job is because they can't find anyone else.

If you really like this new job I would suggest you accept it and try very very hard to do your best, stay late, come in early, finish some tasks on a weekend if you have to - on your own time.

People like that are always noticed and hired.

share|improve this answer
add comment

If possible, put your energy into learning what you need to learn, rather than worrying. And as long as your co-workers aren't jerks, you can learn a lot, and very quickly, by working with more experienced people. Also, I would recommend taking notes to avoid re-asking the same questions as much as possible. Most people don't mind explaining something once or twice, but they will get impatient if they have to explain things over and over.

share|improve this answer
add comment

protected by jmort253 Jan 19 at 20:22

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality answers, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site.

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.