I'm currently working as a Haxe game developer and I've been there for 2.5 years. The current manager and I don't get along too well so I'd like to move on. I'd also like to get out of the gaming industry.

A recruiter reached out to me about a JavaScript job. I passed the phone interview and they'd like to see me in person.

Here are the recruiter's suggestions to prepare:

Part I

a) Know the general algorithms in CompSci at a high-level and particular functions using any language (i.e. bubble-sorts).

b) Be familiar with Java Script and web-related technologies; be familiar with best practices for development and deployment, asynchronous programming (advanced JavaScript concepts), and technologies cited in the role details, including ReactJS and CSS.

Part II

a) Be prepared to address server-concepts, therefore conduct a review of Computer Science elements.

b) More detailed discussion/timing around JavaScript and web development technologies

I can prepare for algorithms questions and review some JavaScript but I honestly don't have a lot of experience with server-side stuff at all so I'm not sure how we can fill the remaining of the 3 hrs with that.

Also, I've only been out of university for 3 years and while I know about 50% of the job requirements I'm not sure how they can grill me for 3 hours.

The job is more demanding than my current one but also pays 25k more. I'm having my doubts about being able to perform at the expected level.

How does one fail gracefully in this case?

How do I 'prepare' when I hardly know anything about the topic?

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    Oh, and if they're asking you about bubble sort, you should be able to at least explain that it's O(n^2) and really inefficient :) – Jane S Aug 3 '15 at 4:15
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    "How does one fail gracefully in this case?" - Having doubts is natural but this question almost shouldn't be asked. Decide you want the job, prepare for the questions, then do what you can to prove to the interviewer that you can handle it and are the right candidate. – Brandin Aug 3 '15 at 6:28
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    One thing to add: relax. From your brief of professional experience and your current position, probably the interviewer has already asumed that you do not have much experience in server programming. Yet you have already passed one interview and are still in the process, which means that you are seen as a potential employee. Try to learn what you can, if you do not know something just acknowledge that, and hope for the best. – SJuan76 Aug 3 '15 at 13:56

Assuming that the recruiter has given you a somewhat accurate idea of what the interview panel expects you to know, they have given you a pretty good idea of where to start to prepare.

The things you don't know well, at least try to get a general idea of the context of the question. For example, if they are asking you about bubble sort they likely want to know why it's normally a poor choice to use (and what the better choices would be), even if you don't remember how to implement it.

Most of all, if you do get asked something you don't know in the interview, don't be afraid to say, "I don't know." There is nothing worse than waffling on trying to cover a skills or knowledge gap. Acknowledge that it's something you need to work on and then move on. It's rare that an interview panel expects you to be able to answer every question right, especially for a mid-level developer role. As you get more senior there should be less gaps in your knowledge.

Lastly, try to look at this process as a learning experience. Even if you are unsuccessful, you will have a better idea of what to concentrate on and try to learn in future :)

  • How about if you used to know a fact/answer but just haven't needed to use/or know it for a couple of years so you forgot? – Kerry Aug 3 '15 at 4:31
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    Tell them exactly that :) – Jane S Aug 3 '15 at 4:32

How do I 'prepare' when I hardly know anything about the topic?

You are interviewing for a position that has requirement which you may not meet 100%. That's normal - it happens more often than not.

You should review your resume, so that you know all the details written there. Any skills you claim, and experiences you note - they are all fair game for detailed questions.

You should brush up on anything and everything the recruiter mentioned. If there is a topic for which you have no experience, at least read and understand the concepts behind the topic. Try to find some way to relate the topic to something you have in your past - it might be prior work experience, it might be a course you took, it might be a book you read, it might even be an interesting bug you encountered while checking someone else's work. You want to be able to converse on the topic with something you know, rather than just saying "I don't know that topic at all".

You should review all of your prior work experience, and be able to verbalize your accomplishments.

You should review why you want to leave your current employer, and why this new employer is particularly suited to your skills, your objectives, and your preferred working style.

Get yourself ready to talk about everything, without have to exaggerate or lie. Be ready to relate what you do know to what they need you to know.

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