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I've got an interview with a small social media business. I found the position via a recruiting firm. While I am a confident person, I don't want to mince words: my BA (graduated last May) is in Political Science. I'm a passionate coder, and can whip out an app I am currently developing on my Android phone, but beyond that, my work experience is limited to 1.5 years as webmaster on campus.

The position has a lot of Ruby (they're apparently willing to teach a bit) as well as Java development. Seeing how I have only glanced at Ruby, I think it'd be best to be open about that right up front. That being said, the atmosphere and the goals of the company according to their website seem to be very much in line with my own interests.

I would say I hit about 75% of the skills they require, but I can learn fast and am an excellent self-starter. What I'm really looking to have answered here on SE is what to focus on? Should I really focus on an app that I've been developing since Feb (it looks pretty good, but it's a bit sparse at the moment), my limited work experience? My ability to work in different areas than where they may be asking for (I can troubleshoot pretty much any hardware they throw at me, I am a very good hands-on teacher of tech)?

I haven't linked the company, or mentioned it by name, because I don't think it's my place to say. But, we'll put it this way: they're less than 25 people, are into social media (to some degree social media marketing, I suppose), and they, in the words of my recruiter, aren't interested in brogrammers - but the interview is supposed to be "casual dress" - direct quote from the recruiter!

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Just like any interview, you need to focus on you and the value you can bring to the company. Be yourself, don't lie, relax, don't ramble, relax and end every answer to every question on a positive note...and make sure to relax. For example,

Them - "Tell me about your Ruby experience."
You - "While I have not developed anything in Ruby, I do have a passing familiarity with it. I am, however, absolutely confident in my ability to pick up and adapt to new technologies."

If they follow-up with questions about situations where you picked up new technologies quickly, you can talk about developing on Android, your knack for troubleshooting hardware problems and how that translates to writing software.

If they ask about your degree, talk about how your experiences in Poli-Sci translate to software development, for example:

Them - "You have a degree in Political Science, how does that make you qualified for a dev position?"
You - "A lot of the political science I studied involved the analysis of complex social systems and the solving of complicated people problems. I believe that the non-methodical techniques of problem-solving coupled with the social analysis make me uniquely qualified for a position at this Social Media company. I also have a fair amount of coursework in Math/CompSci/Physics/What-ev, and I pride myself on being able to approach problems from many different angles to find the most appropriate solution."

Don't sling BS, demonstrate passion and a willingness to learn and you might just get there.

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    Jacob's answer is excellent, I would just add that you can help yourself by having demos and source code for the apps you have authored. – Jim In Texas Jun 8 '12 at 2:31
  • I will absolutely bring along source code - I'll update my export files first thing tomorrow! Thanks for the tips, I'll accept tomorrow morning - and report back! – Davek804 Jun 8 '12 at 4:25
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    Interview went well! I've got a second interview with them in person tomorrow (I was the only of four other candidates that the company wanted to speak to again according to the recruiter). While the interview could still go bad, the recruiter made it sound like the hard part is over. I had a second (first on Fri) interview with another start up as well today, and when I told them I expect an offer from the first company tomorrow, they asked to meet with me after I finish the first. So I hope to have two offers tomorrow! – Davek804 Jun 11 '12 at 23:07
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    Got the job! Verbal offer tonight, paperwork coming tomorrow! Salary and a modest but existing options package! Thanks for the advice! – Davek804 Jun 14 '12 at 2:05
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Honestly, ask for an opportunity to showcase your skills.

Your employer might not know how to do it appropriately or how to broach the subject, but as someone who has hired developers, even the SIMPLEST live coding example quickly separates the wheat from the chaff, as they say.

If I was in an interview and asked about it, I would probably see if I could show rather than tell, as if the hiring team knows what they are doing, they should be able to discern rather quickly your competence level.

Then again, if you are working with upper management and no technical folks, this might not get you very far!

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