Thursday, 2 August 2012

Turning into a gibbering idiot at interview...

I am really bad at interviews. Suddenly, my brain flips into a mode where I'm worrying about my potential answers will appear to each of the panelists and their competing opinions and interests, and while I'm making up my mind what's coming out of my mouth is a long stream of woolly waffle.

Asked what are the emerging trends in software engineering research that we ought to be teaching students, my brain runs at a mile a minute thinking the following:
  • Most of the things courses are struggling to adjust to -- cloud computing, platform as a service, polyglot programming, etc -- aren't "emerging", they've long since bloomin' well emerged. Some courses have even been struggling to get agile practices in there, and that's been around for ten years now.
  • Actually the bigger problem I see students having isn't the lack of "emerging research" on their course, it's that most of their studies are devoid of context and in software engineering context can change everything (the real-world problem we're trying to solve and all the real-world constraints on the team).  So they leave uni still strangers to many of the real problems of software development.
  • For your course? I'm not sure what to answer yet, because I'm still getting to know your teaching program. For ours, I know the problems the course I helped redesign had before my colleague and I redesigned it, which were...
  • The answer's probably going to be different for each of the students -- what are the paths your cohort of students tend to take? Do they try to form the next great start-up, go into big data, build safety-critical software for railway signalling?
  • And of course trying to think of what the favourite research topics of the panel might be.
Unfortunately, while it's thinking that (mostly thinking "would that be an ok answer?"), what's actually coming out of my mouth is a time-filling ramble, and I never quite say any of it.