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“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” - Bruce Lee
Practice makes perfect - an old adage that will never get weary. If there was one chapter I could personally take away from this interview preparation guide, I would choose this one. Just like with everything else in life, practicing and revising are the only ways to improve your planning, preparation and strategy. Let’s go through this chapter together to understand important tips on revision.
Revision - the word itself means taking a second look, or revisiting your vision. They say, what the eye cannot see the first time, it sees the second time around - and that’s what makes revision an extremely important facet of everything you do in life.
One of the biggest mistakes people make when preparing for an interview is not revising often. People with experience think they know it all; yet when actually faced with questions in an interview, they tend to falter and fumble. This causes embarrassment and lowers their self-confidence greatly.
Whether you are an expert at something or still in the learning phase, know that it is extremely important to keep revising and reiterating information so that it is effortlessly ingrained within you. Each time you learn something new, take some time out to revise. For example, if you spend week 1 of preparation solving 100 questions on a particular subject, then take a break after the 100 questions and revise everything you learnt, rather than jumping onto the next 100 questions.
The old adage is true - you can truly learn a lot from your mistakes. When solving problems, make a note of each mistake you make, and then revisit that mistake once again to see how you approach it the second time around. This will help you assess whether you’ve actually derived value and learnt from your mistakes, or if you keep making the same mistake over again
A great way to learn from previous mistakes is to make notes of each of your problem areas. Making notes helps save time during revisions, giving you exact information on each of your problem areas.
The idea of learning from your mistakes is to improve from them. John Dewey once said, “We do not learn from experiences. We learn by reflecting on the experiences”. If you think there’s a certain area you keep making mistakes in, then take some time to ponder and reflect on why those mistakes are being repeated. Are you unable to understand the basics? Are you using an approach that doesn’t work? Trace out the why-how-what of the mistake to get to the root of it, and weed out the problem with a solution that not only works short term, but helps your long-term goals.
In the calendar that you created to adhere to interview preparation timelines, make sure to put in an adequate amount of time for revisions. For every 5-6 days of preparation, give yourself 1-2 days of revision.
When speaking to a recruiter, what matters is your confidence and the finesse with which you present your knowledge. This finesse will only come with revision - there’s no shortcut for it.
If you’re excellent at broadly all aspects of your interview, only then will the recruiter consider you to be a great candidate. Based on my experience, if I were to interview a prospective candidate, I wouldn’t expect them to know all the answers, but I would expect them to know how to approach all the answers. This requires confidence, which only arises from constant revision. Moreover, if a candidate strongly suggests that they are good at certain things, recruiters will specifically test their knowledge in those areas to see if the candidate was honest about their abilities. In situations like this, revision is again what can rescue a candidate from an average interview.
Having said that, recruiters give more importance to in-depth knowledge on concepts in interviews - meaning quality over quantity. For example, consider two candidates, A and B.
Out of 5 concepts, candidate A tells the interviewer that he is not aware of 2 concepts, but very confident about others and eventually nails the questions on the remaining 3 concepts. Candidate B is aware of all 5 concepts, but cannot completely nail them as he has shallow knowledge in those concepts.
In this case, most interviewers would prefer candidate A over candidate B.
So what’s the moral here? Yes, it is essential to have a breadth of knowledge, but most candidates make the mistake of compromising the depth (which comes through revision and re-practice) in pursuit of covering more and more breadth. Hence, make sure you allocate good time for revision during your interview practice.