The Denny's Interview (from Bruce W)
Not too long ago, "TaxQuik" announced major layoffs at the company, and I found myself to be one of the unfortunate few to be without a job. Nervous about being out of work, I found myself responding to just about every job posting that was remotely related to technology. Including a Monster job ad for a "Web site developer".

Shortly after applying for that position, I received an email requesting a demonstration of my programming skills. They wanted me to put together a web page that did some simple addition using JavaScript. I took the eight seconds required to build the page and emailed it right back.

The next day, I received an excited phone call from someone at the company. Apparently, I was the only applicant that provided a working sample. This was the first red flag: my JavaScript skills were minimal yet I found the sample trivial. The second, massive red flag went up when he asked to meet me at a near-by Denny's. And yet I still agreed to the interview.

When the day came, I arrived at Denny's and met Allen, the gentleman I had spoken to on the phone. Actually, he was the only one I could have talked to, as the company was a one-man-shop. After a bit of small talk, Allen started onto his idea: ride sharing. Basically, people would share their cars with people going roughly the same direction.

Although there were similar websites for San Francisco and some other cities, Allen's idea was a bit different. People screened with background checks would book rides and pay online, and they would stand near "rideshare" signs on the side of the road to get where they needed to go. The software could even route through multiple rideshares incase people needed to go at different times or to different places.

As visions of complicated database architectures and process flows filled my head, I took off my technology hat and put my business hat. Where was his start up funding? How was he going to market this? Would the city/county really grant access to put up signs? How could he offset the cost of the expensive background checks?

He seemed to have an answer to everything: he had inheritance money and could get venture capital; he was going to hire a top-notch marketing firm; he already checked with local governments; and he was going to buy background checks in bulk. Everything, that is, except one of my last questions: how is this much different the bus and the public transportation network? Aside from the fact that it costs more and goes less places?

Allen was silent. In all of his business analysis and planning, he had never considered the bus. The interview ended shortly after that. To this day I still watch around town for his "rideshare signs" just in case I was wrong.

 

The Automated Interview (Elliot I)
Like many organizations, when someone leaves, we eventually delete their mailbox and bounce any messages sent to it. Also like many organizations, when someone replies to a bounced message, it goes to the postmaster@ email address. Apparently, this set-up was enough to get me – the sysadmin who reads messages to postmaster@ - a job interview.

I received this message in the postmaster@ box after we had bounced an email to a no-longer-active account. The original email was from a recruiting agency.

From: Human Resources Support 
To: Postmaster
Subject: RE: [Postmaster] Email delivery failure notification
Date-Sent: 11 Jul 2009 18:41:50
------------------------------------------------------------------

Thank you very much for your interest in a position at **********!

We have reviewed your resume, and would love for you to come in 
to our office for an interview! We feel your experience could be
a great fit for the prerequisites outlined by our clients.

Please contact ASAP to schedule a time to talk.

We have also forwarded your resume to the other divisions of 
**********; they may also be contacting you depending on the 
position open and your match.

I would personally like to thank you for your interest, and I 
look forward to talking with you soon.

Kind Regards,

Human Resources Support at **********

 

Missing CDL TLA (from Andy Holyer)
Many, many years ago — in the mid-to-late 80's — I had just received my degree and went to interview for a network analyst position at a university. This wasn't a typical school in that they didn't have a giant, main campus. Instead, they had a whole bunch of local colleges in a 20-mile radius spread across the suburbs.

This university wanted to have a state-of-the-art computer lab but couldn't afford to put one in every local college. So instead, they equipped a double-decker London Routemaster bus with computers, printers, and desks. Each day, the lab would move from campus to campus and hook-in to the local network.

For technical support reasons (it was a lot harder to hook together networks in those days), they wanted to have a network analyst be responsible for the whole thing. The successful job candidate would grab the huge, firehose-like cable under the bus's stairs, drag it to the campus main, and plug in. He'd also provide lab help to the students as needed. And most importantly, he'd drive the bus from location to location.

It turned out that the last part was the sticky part. Such a huge bus required a special drivers license — generally, the kind you need to go to school just to get — and I of course lacked that experience. As I followed up on the job as the weeks and months passed, the interviewer told me they were still looking for a computer science candidate with commercial bus driving experience. I'd guess they are still waiting for that exact skill combination to show up.