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I have an interview for a software engineer intern position.

The person who is going to do the interview is an engineer with over 20 years of experience, and I do not have any, so I do not know how can I impress him, or at least stand out.

Any suggestions?

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    I think it would be considered normal that a new intern would have 0 years of experience (class time is not counted as experience).
    – tcrosley
    May 7, 2014 at 22:14
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    Pretty much all of what I've said in my answer here applies - Coding interview question: how to be comfortable enough doing a certain task that naturally wouldn't happen very often? May 8, 2014 at 1:46
  • Show enthusiasm. Also brush up on your CS fundamentals (concurrency, search/sort/tree/graph algorithms, etc.) and puzzle/riddle skills. I like to use those to gauge the overall problem-solving skills of people who apply fresh out of college. Like 'you have 26 marbles and a balance scale, one marble is heavier than all the others; can you find the heavier marble in 3 weighings or less?'.
    – aroth
    May 8, 2014 at 4:27

4 Answers 4

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A few suggestions:

  • Research the company. Could you know how the company makes money? Could you know the executives of the company? Could you know what kinds of big things are happening with the company? Seriously as you may be asked, "What do you know about X?" in the interview as a question that if you go, "Uh, you guys have this opening," you may well stand out but not in a good way.

  • Research key words from the job description. If you were given a description, couldn't you research the terms used. What methodology may you be using? What tools would you use? Do you know the Software Development Life Cycle? Do you want what Test Driven Development is?

  • Consider what questions do you want to know about the internship to demonstrate interest and enthusiasm. "What's the company's website?" is likely to be a poor question while "What is a typical day in this position?" may do much better.

  • Consider what in your past may make for useful stories. You may be asked, "What is the hardest programming challenge you've had?" or "What got you started in learning how to program?" that are should be simple stories to remember as your history while not having professional experience may have other stuff to contribute here.

Those should be where you could spend more than a few hours in being prepared to talk about the company and what is used so that you can have an idea of what you are expected to do.

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The interviewer knows that you don't have any experience, so he's not expecting you to.

What he'll be looking for, is to see that you're smart, reliable, that you communicate well, that you use your initiative etc.

In order to make an impression - engage with him - answer his questions.

IT interviews typically involve some technical questions, so it's good to be able to answer them. For example, you should be able to say what the difference of between a linked list and an array is, and the advantages of each.

They might give you a problem solving exercise, even if you can't solve it, they're wanting to see how you go about solving these problems, and how well you communicate through it.

Remember, they're looking for not just technical skills, but your interpersonal skills as well. All the technical skills in the world aren't going to help if you're difficult to get along with or are unable to communicate.

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Are you sure your experience is zero? A lot of kids start programming in middle school or high school, so you might have more than 'nothing' in your background. While it may not be much, the question is whether you made anything work. If you were given programming assignments, did you complete them, and how well do they work?

Quite likely what the interviewer is trying to figure out is whether you can do anything at all. If you've been through two years of college, for example, you have to have done some projects. In such circumstances you would describe the projects, the language features you've used, what you got stuck with and how you fixed it, whether you look things up (I notice in your profile you're rooting around on StackOverflow).

Ask questions about what they want you to do. If it sounds like stuff that isn't too far from what you've done on your own, you'll be OK.

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Zero experience + Zero skills + Zero projects + Zero interest + Zero motivation + Zero brains = Zero intern job. Do the math, and try to come up with something so that the sum adds up to something greater than zero.

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    How is this an answer to OP's question?
    – Kevin
    May 8, 2014 at 11:36
  • @Ajaxkevi Show up at the interview with zero experience, demonstrate zero knowledge and zero skills, have zero projects that you can link to, demonstrate zero interest in whatever the position entails, show zero intelligence and problem solving ability, and come back to me and tell me how your interview went. May 8, 2014 at 11:49
  • Don't you think OP already knows he has to show something in order to impress someone? He is asking how he can impress someone. Your answer only tells him he does have to impress someone to get the job. Read JB King's answer and then yours and come back if you think you are contributing too this question.
    – Kevin
    May 8, 2014 at 12:38
  • @Ajazkevi You have to show some qualification for the job. I've already listed the qualifications. What qualifications you develop and how you develop them is up to you. May 8, 2014 at 12:50
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    If you don't like getting negative comments make better answers and save everyone else's time
    – Kevin
    May 8, 2014 at 13:25

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