That time I failed a university selection interview...

In June 2007, at the end of the school year, I got the opportunity to apply to the most prestigious software engineering schools in France.

A bit of context, diplomas are different in France. I was somehow in a Bachelor in Computer Science degree at that time. And moving to that university would have been for a Master’s degree.

What happened

All my teachers were behind me and happy to refer me to this prestigious school. Only one student from our school had been accepted in the past. Would I be the second?

I passed the initial round of selection, which was a written essay on why I wanted to go to the school. And it was enclosed with a couple of reference letters from teachers.

For the second round, they included different tests and would be in person. It was about two hours drive from home. And I didn't have a car.

My sister proposed to drive me. Problem, the interview was starting at 7.30 am (that's early...). So she proposed to host me for the night too and drive me at 5 am.

When it comes to sleep, whenever I don't sleep at home in my own bed, it's difficult.

And of course the night before, at my sister's house, I was also excited and stressed by the interview. That much that I think, I fell asleep only at 2 or even 3 am.

At 4.30 am, we woke up.

At 5 am, we left the house and took the road.

At 7 am something, we arrive at the interview location. We were a bit in advance.

Problem, I couldn't sleep in the car either and with my sleep deprivation, I was like a drunkard.

I entered the room and passed these different tests. While I was completely disinhibited and over-confident from the lack of sleep.

There were some written tests: computer science and math, which were ok.

Then some group work, where I took the lead and completely silenced my group mates.

During the final interview, me alone facing a board of examiners, I declaimed some stupid things...

Going out of the room, lucidity came back, I knew I failed...


So my advice to everyone preparing for an interview, do your best to arrive there in the best conditions. Rent a hotel if needed, not like me...

And in the end, if you fail, it is completely ok. There are tons of opportunities! And not going to that university definitely did not kill my career in software.

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