As requested, I split this question from a two part question I asked at http://stackoverflow.com/questions/2482071/modern-web-development-general-question

My question is how do i convince the young programmers who interview me that my years of system programming experience, MFC, Win32 programming are still relevant and I should not be automatically rejected because I don't know the differences between Drupal and <pick your technology>.

It seems like I can ask a dozen question that these guys won't be able to answer but somehow because I don't know the latest fad counts against me.

I do read, but if you don't use what you read in your daily work, you will never have expert knowledge of it.

So bottom line: is the only way for me to take a .NET or Java job is for me to start at the bottom all over?


One way I've seen old hats make the younger coders take note is to take one of those hot new fads, put it in a historical frameset.

[Fad Name] is just another [Foobar] style CMS based off the ones I used to build. You know why they put the doohickeys on top of the wizbangs? Because if you don't, you'll get [problem taken care of by fad engine unknown to youngins]. We used to have to handle those exceptions ourselves before these fancy new engines came out.

Let them know that everything "new" is just a remake of something thats already been done.



Regardless of experience:

  • If I need a C# guy, you gotta know C# and related technologies (specifically)
  • If I need a programmer, you gotta know programming (more general)

If I'm interviewing an experienced person for a specific position, I expect them to be experienced with what that position requires. If I was looking for a .NET dev, I wouldn't require that you be an expert in .NET, but if you don't have a conversational knowledge of it--sorry--that will count against you.

If I'm interviewing an experienced person for a general position, I'll focus on what that person already knows and I won't care about specific technologies.

If I'm interviewing an inexperienced person (e.g. college grad), I'll focus on fundamentals over any specific technology. I give coding questions which can be completed in any language of choice (even pseudo code).

3 accepted

I've seen way too many technical interviews turn into "Trivial Pursuit Obscure - Developer Edition." These trivia questions tend to be based on the latest stuff out there.

The attributes that make a good developer are nothing new. Sure, the tools change, but most of the concepts are still the same. For some reason many technical interviewers like to either show off their knowledge or take pride in asking questions the candidate can't answer.

I think the best way to handle questions that you may not have experience in is to talk about the most relevant experience you do have.

If you play your cards right you can take control of the interview and steer it toward your strengths instead of just answering their trivia questions.

Just work on some technologies in your spare time you need experience with. You will know the basics and can better relate the new technologies with what you already know.

After some of the crazy interviews I have seen I think there needs to be some kind of interview certification for technical interviewers before they are allowed to interview. :)

Good luck!


At the very least, you should probably work on some .NET or Java projects on your own time that are complex enough to be relatable to real-world projects. The experience and knowledge you gain from these personal projects should provide quite a bit of material to discuss during an interview, and should allow you to present yourself as a more senior developer.


In my opinion, yes, you do need to start from the bottom. That isn't really that much work, though. Because you have that experience, you know how programs work and how systems interoperate. You need to become familiar with these new technologies enough so that you can answer simple questions about how they work internally. Once you have that basic level of familiarity, all of the really difficult technical details fall into place because you already know how programs are structured, so you can intuit the systems you aren't explicitly familiar with.

Spend just 8 hours reading through Drupal's, or CodeIgniter's, or Rails' documentation, and experiment with it during that time. That will give you a huge base for familiarity, then you'll find that everything you know from your other experience is still relevant. Only once you know that your experience is still relevant can you convince others of that.

(I am a 22-year-old with 7 years professional development experience.)


I think this is the problem everbody is facing in the IT industry. However, if you are appearing for the JAVA/.NET interview, you have to be prepared for related technology questions. It is unlikley that they will ask you the question which are absolutely out of interview context, but sometimes they do. If the question is out of the job description, you can reply with "no". Although you should avoid saying "no" straightaway.

If you are appearing for JAVA interview, you will expect questions regarding few opensource technologies and differences, and you have worked a lot on the JAVA, I am sure you must have some idea or knew the buzz words.

Your experience will equipe you to ask the counter questions and I suggest you do it. If they are newbies in the programming, they will be impressed with your knowledge.


Not the only way, no. There may exist a company that could use someone of your experiences in helping mentor younger developers, but the key point here is to know more about current systems as some things may have changed enough that how you used to do something and how it is handled now is dramatically different. I'm not saying the experience is useless, but that there may be a bit of learning some new ways to do things compared to how things were done a few years back, as things like distributed version control systems start to become more widely accepted.

A key question to consider when applying for intermediate or senior jobs is what knowledge are you bringing to the table? How well do you know various development methodologies and design patterns that may still be quite useful? For example, how well could you come into a start-up and help formalize the process and oversee how things are run rather than be a developer?

Just trying to be helpful in answering the question.