Need help and advice-- Unable to crack the interviews


I have read through many inspirational posts on the forum. Recently read the one by @deltasoneca. I would like to thank FCC and @QuincyLarson for the great work that they are doing.

I have been trying to get a job of a Data Analyst for the last 6 months The challenges I face are probably unique but nonetheless I will share. Some of the challenges are as below.

  1. I am an international candidate in the US (with student visa) and with a Masters degree from a great university. I did get a lot of calls and interviews in the last 6 months but none seem to work. I have over 7 years of Tech support experience in Physical Security products like CCTV, Alarm Systems. I have worked in different functions including Product Marketing, Tech support, Deployments and enterprise support for large clients. Dealt a lot with IT Deployments too including testing,

  2. I am sometimes unable to justify my previous experience in the interviews. Sometimes the company does not want to hire internationals. Sometimes they do not care to respond after giving several rounds of interviews.

  3. Sometimes I make some silly mistakes on the white board interviews. They ask a lot of SQL. I do practice a lot but on the D-day the question seems to be something that I cannot solve.

  4. I even tried different strategies like applying to Sales engineering, Business Analyst etc. Did get a few interviews but unable to crack the same.

So, the problem here seems multi-fold. One crossing the barrier of hiring a international guy here in the US and second trying to catch up to what is required. I have even been doing free code camp just to keep up to date but never gave a serious attempt to shift to Full Stack developer as I always wanted to do something with Data. That was also the motivation to get a Masters degree.Data Analysts are mostly asked SQL, BI tools, Data Warehousing etc.

I feel completely lost with a family to take care and the pressure mounting on a daily basis to find a job. None of the strategies seem to work.

Demoralized and feel broken ! :frowning:

Any advice will be great!

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I can’t speak to the challenges of being an international applicant or the specifics of data science, but here is the advice section from my rant about my own recent job hunt:

Attitude is so important

My personal tagline is “You’d be surprised how far stubbornness and enthusiasm can get you.” So much of job-hunting comes down to the impression you make. I know how hard it is to stay positive, but you gotta fake it. Don’t complain or trash-talk (including yourself), even jokingly. Physically smile when you’re on the phone. Smile during your interviews. Chose phasing like “I look forward to hearing from you soon” and “Hopefully I made a good impression, because I’m excited to move forward.” There’s a line between anticipating success and sounding cocky (I’ve crossed it), but people are attracted to happiness and are really very suggestible.

Get human contact

If a job posting includes any contact information (even a stock company signature block), use it. Submit your application through the website, sure, but then also send an email or call the recruiter who posted it. Talk about specifics of the job posting (“I was excited to see that this is for the education sector. I would love to be part of improving online learning tools. I actually am part of an amazing open source education platform called Free Code Camp”). Ask for more information. Include your resume but also hit the high points in your email (or conversation).

Dealing with those skills you don't have

I mentioned above that every job I applied for listed skills or experiences I didn’t have. How do I deal with that? I don’t try to learn the technology, but I do try to learn about it. In the initial phone screening, I find out what tools/languages/etc they actually use. Between then and the next conversation I educate myself on what that technology is, how it’s used, and why people choose it. Then I am totally honest (but with a positive spin). “What do you know about TypeScript?” “I’ve never worked on a project that used TypeScript, but my understanding is that it allows you to use JavaScript in a way that is more familiar for Java programmers by providing strict typing and tools for object oriented patterns. I can definitely see the appeal!”

Acknowledge your nerves and concerns

I always make a point of admitting my nervousness, especially since I am also working so hard not to act like I’m nervous. When the interviewer asks me how I am I say something like “Oh, you know, super nervous but excited to be here.” If there are specific weaknesses that worry me, I try to address those too. “I’m a little concerned that you’re looking for someone with a lot of C++ experience. While I’m confident in my ability to learn it quickly, I have to admit that I’ve barely touched it so far.”

Say "I don't know" with a smile

You won’t know how to answer every question. Don’t get hung up on it. If you get hung up on it, they’ll get hung up on it. If you think you can guess the answer, tell them that it’s an inference. If you are sure you used to know it and you brain-fart admit that. If you just don’t know, say that. Acknowledge it with a smile and act like it’s a little embarrassing but perfectly understandable that you don’t have an answer, because it is.

When you're whiteboarding, just keep talking

There’s lots of good advice out there on how to approach live coding challenges (the jargon for this is “whiteboarding” because traditionally they give you a challenge and ask you to solve it for them on a whiteboard without a computer). The only thing I’ll emphasize here is my own major “lesson learned”: silence is your enemy. I lead with “I’m going to say a lot of garbage, because I’m just trying to talk out my thought process” and then I do. Pretend you’re talking to yourself. Propose and reject ideas. Ask yourself questions and answer them.

Interview the job

Don’t walk into an interview with less than 20 intelligent questions to ask. There’s lots of reasons for this.

  • You genuinely want to know if the job is right for you.
  • It demonstrates that you know what you’re talking about.
  • It shows that you are interested in the work, the company, and the people. If you have any interest in the job, always make that very clear.
  • It changes the tone to more of a conversation. Interviews can feel like being put on the witness stand in Law & Order. Really, you and the job should be getting to know each other.
  • It communicates confidence and an expectation of success.
Headhunters and recruiters are great, but don't rely on them

A “headhunter” is a professional recruiter who is hired by a company to find and vet qualified applicants. You may end up talking to some as a first communication for a specific job, or you can reach out to one directly. One thing that’s great for you is that these people get paid based on a successful placement (usually a percentage of the salary you are offered). This means that they want you to succeed. They can often offer you more information and advice about the interview. I even had one make sure I knew what to wear to the interview. If they choose to work with you, they will let you know about other jobs you might not have found on your own and going through them skips the step of throwing your resume into a pile of hundreds. This can be a nice boost on your job search, but continue to look and advocate for yourself as if they aren’t there.


Hey @rajathrao,
it’s important to not get discouraged and to believe in yourself. Finding a job is a tough process that has it’s ups and downs.

Regarding your challenges,

  1. Make sure that the places you are applying for don’t have an issue with the fact that you are an international candidate. If you pass that hurdle at the start, you won’t have to worry about it through the interviewing process. And on the other side, you won’t proceed with processes that won’t hire you based on that fact alone saving you time.
  2. I don’t understand what you mean by “unable to justify my previous experience”, but I’d make sure your resume reflects your experience correctly.
  3. Making mistakes is fine, as long as you are communicative. You might say things like, I’m not sure this is the correct answer, but… As long as you verbally show your thought process, you will be OK.
  4. If you are interviewing for jobs requiring SQL knowledge and you are somewhat lacking in that field, do everything you can to master it. Watch tutorials, write code, ask fellow coders. There is no limit to the amount of knowledge on the web.

I hope that helps.

Hi R,
I hear you. It is stressful searching for a job. I would add two things.

Regarding feeling demoralized,
My favorite analogy right now is that life is like the ocean. Storms can be tremendous one day then the next day calm. The waves may seem terrible, visibility is poor and there is so much commotion that it is hard to think BUT the storm WILL END. Although we can not predict the length of storms, the weather will get better. Nothing lasts forever. Take refuge that tomorrow is another chance.

Two, do something to take back control of your life. I know you said that you have a student visa, but try to find a job (‘under the table’, meaning, off the books) part-time. This time of the year is busy. Ask around for a ‘Seasonal’ job for the holidays. I will bet you that getting out of your head for a little bit will be very useful and bringing in even a little (ironically) will make you feel more in control.


Thanks so much. Yes the points you have made does make sense. Yes recruiters just talk sweet and never respond back most of the times.

Hi Thanks . On point 2, I meant say for instance they ask me about the previous experience and I tell them as is it may seem to them that the experience I have had is mostly irrelevant. So, I have to come up with something to show that it translates to the current job . Or, like someone suggested I will have to say that I have no experience as a Data Analyst. But, they do ask for real world experience and that is where the problem comes.

Thanks so much. Yes, I feel I have lost control and may be that is evident from my post. Sure, I will have to get out there and make’ things happen.