A Most Wonderful Opportunity (from Ben)
I made the mistake of giving my real email address to a headhunter I met at a local dev event. So now I get emails like this...

Hi Benjamin,

I am working with one of the best known media organisations in the world. 

They are truly successful, with over £2 billion of turnover each year. The 
company is without doubt one of the flashest and coolest places to work. 
The lead developer there is so skilled that he has been given numerous 
awards for just being outstanding. 

He is a true luminary in his field and is without doubt one of the key 
figures behind the company being one of the most profitable companies out
there. Everybody can learn from him, he is essentially the Dali Lama of 
the iPhone coding world. You would be working alongside this guru in a 
small team of carefully selected developers, hand picked for their coding 
excellence and coolness. The project that you would be working on would be
predominantly iPhone native language based, but there may also be an element 
of Ruby on Rails involved too. JSON experience is also desired. 

The guru has already built, single handedly an application which enables 
all of the companies' famous magazines to be converted from PDF format to
the iPad with minimal extra work required for developers. The software 
enables HTML pages to be added to add bonus pages etc. This already 
extremely successful in the UK and is being rolled out across Poland and 
Kiev shortly.

The company itself is one of the most fine places to work, minimalist 
Scandinavian style offices with awards mounted in plexigass and titanium 
frames upon the walls, a drink fountain serving the purest chilled spring 
water fresh from the Malvern Hills. One has not lived until meeting with 
this company, an environment in which they meticulously produce the finest
quality of code, as pure as the water which emanates from the stainless 
steel spout of their drink dispenser. 

--- snip several paragraphs describing a tree in a nearby garden ---

Do get in touch immediately if you are interested in this most wonderful 
opportunity. 

Sincerly,
Jerome F-------

I can't wait to get started working for "The Guru" who has been given numerous awards just for "being outstanding"!

 

Multiple Frustrations (from Hari)
Love it or hate it, multiple interviews are an unavoidable fact of life for most jobs at most companies. Different people want to ask different questions at different times, and some companies – mine included – accomplish this by conducting several rounds of consecutive interviews. Nothing out of the ordinary really; it’s just the way things are done.

I was the third person inline to interview a candidate for a senior analyst position, and I opened up with some friendly small talk: “Oh, I see you worked at Initrode Global. I know a lot of people that came from there… what group were you in?”

“Like I told the last guy,” she said a bit briskly, “I was in the LM division.”

I shrugged off her initial curtness, and we continued the conversation. And then I asked a question to understand her experience with the unique regulations our company has to deal with.

“Ummm,” she said with a furrowed brow, “I already answered this question to the guy who came before you.”

And that was it. I paused for a second and then replied, “okay… I wasn’t in there with you, so I don’t really know what you said.” vShe said nothing in response, so I continued. “So… what is your experience with these regs?”

“Ugh, I already said,” she scoffed, “this is really frustrating to have to give the same answers to the same questions.”

“I’m sorry?” I was a bit baffled, “you just came from his office so how could I have known what you and he talked about?”

“I don’t know. Maybe get everyone in a room instead of having me jump from person to person?”

Things didn’t improve much from that point… but the good news was, she didn’t have to jump to any other person after me.

 

Riddled (from Grig Larson)
Not too long ago, I applied for systems administrator job. The interviews were going very well, and I had to return twice because they flew people in to meet me. One of them was a guy who, God love him, seemed like a great person but his interview skills were a little hackneyed. He asked a lot of Job Interview 2.0 questions, which, up until this point, I had never heard of.

"If you had to move Mount Fuji," he asked, "how would you do it?" I recall thinking, "why is he asking this? What does he mean by Mount Fuji?"

"You mean, Mount Fuji, the volcano in Japan?"

He looked confused I asked. "Er, yes. How would you move it?"

What he didn't know was I was a science fiction author as well. I spent a lot of time asking odd questions like these. "Why kind of life form might evolve on Mars?" and so on. But like a writer, I had to have a principal motive of the protagonist.

"Why?" I asked.

The man chuckled as if he had never thought about that before. "Just how would you move it?"

I felt I didn't explain my question. "I mean, who is my customer? Why does he or she wish to move Mount Fuji? I mean, to move Mount Fuji seems like the middle of a plan; it's a verb that has an end mean. Like, does my client want the rubble? Do they want to move it 10 meters to the left? What drives such a vast plan?"

"Yes, say you want to move it... a mile to the left. How would you do it?"

I rolled my eyes in thought. "Wow, um. First, we'd have to get the permission of the Japanese government. I would imagine my client would have to be pretty persuasive to get past that hurdle; Mount Fuji is a national treasure of Japan. Whole economies are connected to it. It would vastly interrupt tourist industry and all surrounding towns connected to the mountain."

The man looked at me, completely dumbstruck.

"The environment impact would also have to be addressed. One does not simply move a volcano. I would imagine I'd study the geological hot spot in detail because once an exposed magma chamber were released, I could only imagine the risk of millions of people with hot lava, volcanic gasses, and the pyroclastic flow and eruption potential. Then you'd have to explain to all the environmentalists and convince the scientific world that this sort of project was necessary. And who is funding such a project?"

"You're over-thinking this," he said, "I just want to know how you would technically."

"Again, for what end result? I can't answer that without knowing what the client wishes."

"He just wants to move it."

"But why? I could imagine a lot cheaper and less destructive ways to get what someone might want. And frankly, what would be different than taking a kilometer of rock from one side and slapping it on the other? Is that considered moving it?"

He paused for a bit. "How man piano tuners are there in the United States?"

I paused. "This... is for the systems administration job, right?"

I didn't get the job. Not because I didn't understand his project prospective, but the following Monday, they had huge layoffs and a hiring freeze.

 

Indecent Proposal (from Andrew)
I'm not looking for a job right now, but I get recruiter e-mails anyway. I'm not quite sure what this recruiter is trying to say...