Where CS Graduates Fail During Interviews

Visualwebz
7 min readMar 8, 2022

“Employment in computer and information technology occupations is projected to grow 13 percent from 2020 to 2030,” according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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It would be great as a computer science student to believe that you are being taught all you need to know to find a job once you graduate and leave school. This estimate is quicker than the national average for all occupations, making it an enticing career path to pursue. Many recent computer science graduates are unaware that certain situations make it difficult for others with the same degree to get jobs. Let’s discuss the most common reasons computer science graduates fail during job interviews. Also, I’ll show you how to improve and overcome these areas of weakness by providing ideas on preventing failure in these areas.

Background and Programs of study

A few areas you’ll study as a computer science major are computer systems, software development, and problem-solving using computing technologies. The field includes database management, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, computer networks, and programming languages. Depending on your specialty area, what you learn is supposed to prepare you to work in the field. Every modern company relies on computer science personnel to manage critical technological demands. To complete a bachelor’s degree in computer science usually takes four years. Master’s degrees in computer science are commonly provided as a Master of Science (MSc) and last one or two years. Following this, you can pursue a doctoral degree (Ph.D.), although most students do not do so.

Areas CS graduates fail during job interviews

Curriculum that is no longer relevant

One of the areas that fresh graduates fail in is low-level programming is generally the emphasis of computer science education. Year after year, it teaches more theoretical and foundational principles without modification. Because the curriculum is old and only teaches programming fundamentals, pupils’ understanding is limited. As a result, many new computer science graduates only have a basic knowledge of algorithms, computer language theory, and software development.

How can you avoid only learning outdated curricula? Consider a few jobs you’d like to have after you finish school. Examine the job postings for these positions. Consider what the firms want you to know. How much experience do they expect from you? So far, how much of what they want you to know have you learned? Be truthful to yourself and honestly judge your expertise. From there, you may start looking for methods to broaden your knowledge in those areas so that when you apply for those positions, you have the skills and understanding required to accomplish the job.

What are some methods to supplement your education? Assume you want to be a web developer, and your classes teach you the core codes needed to construct a website. You can find an online coding curriculum that will help you improve your knowledge and practice. An online article by Pinola and Sin, The Odin Project, can turn a coding novice into a programmer because it is a free alternative that collects some of the best open-source knowledge. Google can also provide you with career certificates. Project management, android programming, data analytics, UX design, and IT support are just a few examples. You will not only study and learn more, but you will also acquire career credentials to add to your résumé.

No work experiences

The next area of failure typical for CS graduates is a lack of experience. Practical experience is far more important than academic knowledge in computer science. MERN Stack, Java, AWS, Python, DevOps, and other modern frameworks professionals are in high demand these days. You must have some experience working in the field. If you don’t, it’s not likely you will be hired.

As a student, you could be wondering how you can gain experience while still in school. Gaining experience is advantageous for you since it improves your technical abilities. This will also provide you with samples to incorporate in your responses to any interview questions you may be asked. Students might consider taking a placement year, taking a year off from school to work in the field. Internships, work shadowing, personal projects, and volunteering are more opportunities.

An internship is a set term of hands-on job experience typically provided to students. Internships are used for educating and obtaining expertise in your chosen field. An example of personal projects is if you want to learn how to build a mobile app. On the North Central College website, Jacob Imm wrote an article on the importance of internships. According to him, employers want to hire someone with experience in the field who doesn’t need large amounts of training. Internships are one way to show these prospective employers that you have the necessary experience. Sometimes internships and work shadowing go hand in hand. Work shadowing entails shadowing a professional to grasp the role better.

Personal projects are one of the final two examples of obtaining job experience. Assume you want to work as a mobile app developer. You can watch online tutorials that show you how to build one step by step in your spare time. Once you have a firm grasp on how to construct one, you can work on creating your own or a series of them to demonstrate your abilities. When doing this, you will develop your skills and become someone who can design applications equivalent to what pros are producing that operate well in the field. Volunteering is pretty self-explanatory. Volunteering allows students the opportunity to apply their classroom learning to actual real-life settings.

Rapidly evolving technology

The third area that CS grads suffer with while acquiring a job is developing technologies. Information technology is a sector that is constantly changing. It continues to evolve day by day, at a fast rate. Computer science graduates' restricted field of study makes it difficult for them to keep up with technological advances. As a result, students must utilize a flexible learning approach to succeed in such situations. With the emergence of technology, traditional learning strategies do not effectively prepare students. It would help if you also educated yourself on what is going on in your chosen field of specialty outside of school. You’ll be able to stay up with the expertise of other professionals/specialists who are being employed.

There are many hot topics in the IT business, including Java web development, machine learning, automation, cloud computing, and big data. While having a degree is helpful to show recruiters, most organizations prefer to hire people who are familiar with the latest technologies for software development and other IT projects.

Whether you're coding, constructing things, or networking with consumers, staying current with technology may help you be more productive in your IT career. There was a list written on indeed by their editorial team that lists ways to stay up to date with technology. Some suggested methods are finding a mentor, watching TED talks, joining a professional organization, reading tech news daily, social media, attending industry conferences, and listening to podcasts. There were other ways listed as well. Also, you may have ideas that weren’t listed. You must do so since you’ll lag behind other candidates if you’re not familiar with the technology organizations could hire you to utilize.

Coding

Coding is the fourth area where computer science job candidates fail. During a coding interview, you are asked to write code to solve a challenge, problem, or exercise. These types of interviews are used to evaluate your computer science ability because they typically require the use of a specific data structure or technique to arrive at an answer. Here’s an example of a coding question to consider: In Java, how do you reverse a string? Here’s an example of a response:

Figure 1: Answer on how to reverse a string in Java

Source: Griffiths (2021)

You might fail this part of the interview for a variety of reasons. There's a lot to consider, from not knowing the answer to a question to feeling pressed because the interviewer is watching you as you do it.

School is a time for you to learn, so use it. It would be best to hone your coding abilities while you’re still in school. Make every effort to have a good understanding of programming languages. Look into the sorts of coding languages you need to master for the employment you are pursuing. Take coding classes that teach such languages. You can practice in your own time or enroll in online courses and seminars. Look up and practice coding interview questions that interviewers frequently ask. This will only help you throughout the interview process.

Marketing yourself

Employers care about what other skills you possess, like your ability to organize and communicate professionally. These skills are critical when applying for more business-oriented roles such as consulting or running/managing teams. You must figure out how to make yourself employable. Researching what recruiters in the industry are looking for is essential. It would help if you did this while you are still in school so that when you are out of it, you are ready to start the job hunt and be successful.

How can you market yourself as a programmer? It will help if you begin marketing yourself as soon as possible. Some of the suggested ways you can do this are creating a portfolio, showcasing your skills on LinkedIn, getting in touch with recruiters on the site, and building software. You have a fresh mind as a student, and if you don’t start promoting yourself right away, it will be more challenging to present your brand once you’ve finished your studies.

Takeaway

When looking for a job, it’s vital to avoid the problems that incoming computer science graduates problems. Outdated educational curricula, a lack of job experience, fast-expanding technology, and coding interviews are risks. According to SynergisticIT, “it takes IT, employers, 50% longer to hire a candidate than other recruiters as they want highly qualified developers with exceptional coding skills”. If you put in the effort to improve your talents and learn about what it’s like to look for a career, you’ll be prepared to face the hurdles and land a position in the field.

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Visualwebz

A Seattle web design and online marketing agency that delivers high-end websites. A passion for web development and SEO.