Stylized line drawing of mark playing the flute

The Interview Where I Completely Froze

I usually interview pretty well.

I’m calm and polite. I can navigate a question I don’t know the answer to. I can build a good rapport with my interviewer(s).

It’s all about having a conversation. They’re trying to find out about me and what I know. I’m trying to find out the same thing about them.

Is it a good fit?

Most of the time, it’s even enjoyable. I meet a lot of interesting people and we talk about a lot of interesting things. I always come away having learned something good or with a topic I want to read more about.

Fun stuff.

But I had an interview not too long ago that almost went off the rails.

We were chatting and they were quizzing me on my C# knowledge (which is decent but not stellar). We had just finished an in-depth discussion on the using statement and were moving on to SQL.

They threw me an easy question. Talk about the different kinds of SQL joins and what they do. Simple stuff that I’ve been doing for years.

And my mind went blank and I completely froze. My face got hot and my heart started pounding. I was just sitting there, a blank piece of paper in front of me, the two interviewers staring at me, and I couldn’t think of a single thing to say.

I wanted to just mumble an apology and get up and run out of the room.

Instead, I said β€œI’m sorry, I’ve suddenly gotten really nervous. I know the answer to this, I just need a second.” They were gracious and gave me a minute to calm my nervous.

Just as soon as it started, it was over and all of my SQL knowledge came rushing back. I rattled off all of the answers, we chatted for a minute other things, and then we moved on to the coding challenge (which I crushed).

It was an unsettling experience and I don’t want a repeat any time soon. But, at the same time, I’m happy with how I handled it. I kept my cool and pulled out of the tailspin.