I've done a few interviews (as the interviewer: I've done many many more as the interviewee) and the biggest thing I noticed is that people don't like admitting they don't know something.
If you haven't heard of this function or this feature or this concept, tell me! I'd rather talk through what it does with you to see if you understand why it's useful or how to apply it, than watch you flounder for the answer you think I would like to hear or stare at me blankly until I move on.
Maybe I'm too optimistic, but I like it when interviews are more like conversations gauging to see if I will like working with this person, and less like standing in front of a firing squad, seeing what knowledge you can recall offhand.
I think the referral bit is situational. It's not going to be possible to accomplish this for ever position you want to go for unless you sink a bunch of time faking being interested in someone's life on LinkedIn for long enough to get a referral out of them, or genuinely know someone who works for that company.
Plus, in my experience, my company has rejected or been rejected by every single referral for a developer that we've gotten after speaking with them (for a number of reasons or circumstances that weren't going to work out) and have hired "randos" (myself included).
If you know someone who can refer you, definitely go for it, but I don't think you should limit where you apply based on not having one.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Nicholas =] I've heard it from multiple sources that referrals help. If not for getting hired, but at least it gets their foot in the door. There's no guarantee that they'll get hired.
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