Comment On IBM Survivor, The High Road, & Find the Function!

IBM Survivor (from Reid Maynard) In the middle of the dot-com bust, I interviewed at IBM for a contract position. I can't remember exactly what the position was, but I'll never forget the interview. [expand full text]
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Re: IBM Survivor, The High Road, & Find the Function!

2008-06-05 09:08 • by snoofle
During the Wall Street crash of 2002, I found myself looking for a job. I interviewed at this place which turned out to be hundreds of tiny companies (each team was its own LLC registered in a different country, so that there was no liability to the parent holding company). I asked them how they managed to share information across legal entities, and they told me that lawyers are involved in all inter-team meetings.

Then comes the final interview. About 25 candidates are all in a big room, with about 10 managers, and we are each asked to essentially justify why we are better than all the other candidates, out load and in front of everyone.

Since I was the first one up, I was sure that at least one of the other 24 was Topper, and I was wasting my time, so I stood up and told them so, that I would not dance in their little circus, and simply walked out.

Re: IBM Survivor, The High Road, & Find the Function!

2008-06-05 09:14 • by dgvid
As I sat alone in the conference room for the next few minutes, I wondered if there was a third option that I didn’t consider.


Oh, yeah, there sure was. Remove your tie. Then start undoing buttons one-at-a-time. See how far she was willing to take that little game.

Re: IBM Survivor, The High Road, & Find the Function!

2008-06-05 09:16 • by JackD (unregistered)
I think I'm missing the WTF in the IBM interview. Group interviews aren't uncommon, and weeding candidates down via testing isn't all that bad. I mean it's not the most pleasent interview process, but at least they didn't throw you in a pit with a bunch of rusty tools to duke it out with.

Re: IBM Survivor, The High Road, & Find the Function!

2008-06-05 09:16 • by Russ (unregistered)
198966 in reply to 198961
I once came to interview for an internship at a big financial company. Without asking me any relevant technical questions and only making some small talk, I was told that the job was mine if I wanted it.

I didn't really want to code in C, so I passed it on to my friend who I think works there to this day. I took an internship at another place where I got to do web development - something I actually liked.

Re: IBM Survivor, The High Road, & Find the Function!

2008-06-05 09:16 • by Mark G (unregistered)
Not bad

Re: IBM Survivor, The High Road, & Find the Function!

2008-06-05 09:18 • by Aaron
That last example is what the recruiters love to refer to as "back room" developers.

Back when I was naïve, I assumed that meant something to the effect of "They work well if you give them a screen mock-up and tell them exactly what each control is supposed to do." Eventually I learned what it really meant: "If you hand them 50 lines of pseudocode, there's a good chance they'll be able to translate them into 50 lines of C# without screwing it up too badly."

I'm amazed that there are actually people out there who think that "programming" is the ability to write a statement that adds two numbers together, given specific instructions to write a statement that adds two numbers together.

Re: The High Road

2008-06-05 09:31 • by Charles (unregistered)
Gee, I was hoping the blouse-popping story was going someplace interesting. It always does in the porn flicks that start that way.

What is "programming"?

2008-06-05 09:37 • by AlanGriffiths (unregistered)
198975 in reply to 198968
Aaron:
I'm amazed that there are actually people out there who think that "programming" is the ability to write a statement that adds two numbers together, given specific instructions to write a statement that adds two numbers together.

I've noticed that the use of language changes with the years. It used to be that "bad" meant, well "bad", but now it means "good". (I'm not sure what to say to mean "bad" maybe "evil"? Or does that mean "good"?)

And "guys" used to be for males, but now it can be females.

Sorry, I digress.

I realised that "programming" doesn't mean what it did when I learnt English when I received the following in a job specification...

"...this is a job for a software engineer, NOT a programmer"

Re: IBM Survivor, The High Road, & Find the Function!

2008-06-05 09:39 • by Bob (unregistered)
There was nothing you could do. She wouldn't want to work with somebody who has seen her unbuttoned, and she would have noticed eventually.

Letting her know was probably the better choice. At least she knows that you are respectable, and not a pervert, which might be better for you down the road. On the other hand, you might have missed out on seeing some boobies.

Re: The High Road

2008-06-05 09:40 • by betlit
198979 in reply to 198973
'clearing ones throat and pointing at her bosom' isn't the best way, i think...

i guess, a friendly 'forgive me for noticing, but your blouse seem to have unbuttoned itself' while trying not to smile like a 14 year old teenie would have worked out nicely.

Re: IBM Survivor, The High Road, & Find the Function!

2008-06-05 09:43 • by matt (unregistered)
Reid Maynard is a coward. You'd done the group bit, you were just about to begin the one-on-one interviews.

If you were going to try and make a statement you'd do it during the group bit, surely?

Re: The High Road

2008-06-05 09:50 • by valerion
198982 in reply to 198979
betlit:
'clearing ones throat and pointing at her bosom' isn't the best way, i think...

i guess, a friendly 'forgive me for noticing, but your blouse seem to have unbuttoned itself' while trying not to smile like a 14 year old teenie would have worked out nicely.


I think a "hey, you've got great tits" would've got the point across succinctly.

Re: IBM Survivor, The High Road, & Find the Function!

2008-06-05 10:01 • by real_aardvark
198986 in reply to 198965
JackD:
I think I'm missing the WTF in the IBM interview. Group interviews aren't uncommon, and weeding candidates down via testing isn't all that bad. I mean it's not the most pleasant interview process, but at least they didn't throw you in a pit with a bunch of rusty tools to duke it out with.
I suspect that this is precisely what they were going to do after they hire you...

Re: IBM Survivor, The High Road, & Find the Function!

2008-06-05 10:10 • by joker (unregistered)
198987 in reply to 198968
Whole industries actually work that way.

Give some codemonkeys a mockup and make them translate it into code, preferably in several stages so nobody has to use too much brainpower.

(hint: you've probably at least once in your life driven in something running such a program.)

;)

Re: IBM Survivor, The High Road, & Find the Function!

2008-06-05 10:14 • by Bappi
198988 in reply to 198961
snoofle:
I was sure that at least one of the other 24 was Topper

Who's Topper?

Re: IBM Survivor, The High Road, & Find the Function!

2008-06-05 10:19 • by fatdog
198990 in reply to 198988
Who's Topper?

Lt. Topper Harley

Re: IBM Survivor, The High Road, & Find the Function!

2008-06-05 10:21 • by Kane (unregistered)
198992 in reply to 198988
Topper is the Dilbert character that can always top whatever you've done.

http://solskinner.blogspot.com/2007/12/topper-from-dilbert.html

Re: The High Road

2008-06-05 10:30 • by FredSaw
198993 in reply to 198973
Charles:
Gee, I was hoping the blouse-popping story was going someplace interesting. It always does in the porn flicks that start that way.
I thought the buttons were rigged and it was going to be a test of his concentration, to see how well he kept focus in a distracting environment. The real story was a disappointment.

Re: The High Road

2008-06-05 10:36 • by BadReferenceGuy (unregistered)
198996 in reply to 198973
Charles:
Gee, I was hoping the blouse-popping story was going someplace interesting. It always does in the porn flicks that start that way.


IMHO, the real WTF is that it sounds like the applicant failed to secure an evening appointment with her.

Re: IBM Survivor, The High Road, & Find the Function!

2008-06-05 10:51 • by Paula (unregistered)
I always like to show my brillant boobage on interviews.

Re: IBM Survivor, The High Road, & Find the Function!

2008-06-05 10:52 • by A Person (unregistered)
Yikes. That blouse story reminds me of an interview I had. The woman was similar to the one described in the story, except she started out in a sweater and ended up in a (very nice!) form-fitting summer top. You should've seen me trying to look everywhere else but at her hands as she unbuttoned that sweater. I'm not sure I was entirely successful, but luckily she didn't make any indication if she noticed me noticing...

Re: IBM Survivor, The High Road, & Find the Function!

2008-06-05 10:56 • by Georges (unregistered)
1. You never Leave an interview, even if it is a shitty interview. Maybe one day you come back to that same company... It's better to have no impression, than a bad one.

2. No comment :)

3. Awesome :)

Re: What is "programming"?

2008-06-05 11:05 • by Zecc
199009 in reply to 198975
AlanGriffiths:
I realised that "programming" doesn't mean what it did when I learnt English when I received the following in a job specification...

"...this is a job for a software engineer, NOT a programmer"
I'm not sure I understand where you're getting at.
A software enginner is someone who can *design* software given requisites; a programmer is anyone who can implement a project given its specification (ie, *write code*).
Of course, anyone worth its salt combines both.

Re: IBM Survivor, The High Road, & Find the Function!

2008-06-05 11:20 • by pitchingchris
# 1 was a chicken. You don't make it all the way to the end to quit voluntarily. He probably weeded out those whose test indicated they didn't have the proper skills for the job because some of the answers were supposed to be common knowledge of the field and they wanted someone with at least an understanding. (Especially in the field of consulting, why should you pay someone who doesn't already know how to do the job you have for them. You don't consult someone who has to learn their way). Personally, I think if you made it to the one-on-one, you are about to go over the hill and things get easier after that. Guess we'll never know.

Re: IBM Survivor, The High Road, & Find the Function!

2008-06-05 11:21 • by yet another Matt
199012 in reply to 198961
snoofle:
Since I was the first one up, I was sure that at least one of the other 24 was Topper, and I was wasting my time, so I stood up and told them so, that I would not dance in their little circus, and simply walked out.


You should have hung around outside to see who Topper was, since presumably immediately after you left, he would have gotten up, insulted the interviews technique and their parentage, and then rappelled out of the window.

Re: What is "programming"?

2008-06-05 11:25 • by obediah
199015 in reply to 199009
Zecc:

A software enginner is someone who can *design* software given requisites; a programmer is anyone who can implement a project given its specification (ie, *write code*).
Of course, anyone worth its salt combines both.


Your answer doesn't scale. An engineer/programmer may be worth more salt than a programmer, but they cost more salt as well. If you've got enough engineering work for 10 people and programming work for 100 people, you'd waste a lot of money by hiring 110 engineer/programmers.

Re: IBM Survivor, The High Road, & Find the Function!

2008-06-05 11:25 • by AT (unregistered)
Third option on the popping-top: Plead that you foolishly drank a large cup of coffee/water/soda just before the interview and you desperately need a quick restroom break. That gives her an opportunity to discover and correct her clothing failure while preserving ambiguity as to whether you actually noticed the spill.

Re: IBM Survivor, The High Road, & Find the Function!

2008-06-05 11:29 • by wtf (unregistered)
The runaway candidate probably missed a great opportunity, not to mention the proper ending of the story.
The shy one drew a totally wrong conclusion out of his story.
As to the expert one, it all seems fake and made up. OK, maybe he couldn't figure out "the function" for the general case, but no way would he not be able to cope with the specific numbers case. And another thing - the real wtf is the company's first round of questions, and how easily impressed they apparently are.

Re: What is "programming"?

2008-06-05 11:32 • by Nobody (unregistered)
199021 in reply to 199009
Zecc:
AlanGriffiths:
I realised that "programming" doesn't mean what it did when I learnt English when I received the following in a job specification...

"...this is a job for a software engineer, NOT a programmer"
I'm not sure I understand where you're getting at.
A software enginner is someone who can *design* software given requisites; a programmer is anyone who can implement a project given its specification (ie, *write code*).
Of course, anyone worth its salt combines both.


"Software engineering" is a pseudonym for "project management". Any connection between "software" and "engineering" is tenuous at best. Flame away :-)

Re: IBM Survivor, The High Road, & Find the Function!

2008-06-05 11:36 • by matt (unregistered)
199025 in reply to 198992
Kane:
Topper is the Dilbert character that can always top whatever you've done.

http://solskinner.blogspot.com/2007/12/topper-from-dilbert.html


Lyle!

Re: IBM Survivor, The High Road, & Find the Function!

2008-06-05 11:38 • by KludgeQueen
199026 in reply to 199007
Georges:
1. You never Leave an interview, even if it is a shitty interview. Maybe one day you come back to that same company... It's better to have no impression, than a bad one.
...


I disagree; he did the right thing. Long, long ago, I went for an interview that turned out to be for a telemarketing job, and I could hear the boiler-room workers being verbally abused by their supervisor while I waited for my interview. I walked out. It kind of reminds me of stories you hear of children being abused or wives being beaten. They don't like what's going on, they feel very uncomfortable, yet they don't leave, and it gets worse. If you feel uncomfortable, LEAVE. Don't let yourself be abused in any sense of the word. Don't voluntarily give up your freedom in such a situation. You don't HAVE to stay on.

Re: IBM Survivor, The High Road, & Find the Function!

2008-06-05 11:39 • by T604 (unregistered)
199027 in reply to 199005
That beats the interview I had... this older manager had a rather large beetle crawling through her hair and the tech lead had a facial tick reminiscent of an old boxer. I was too scared to mention the beetle, the woman looked like a witch.

Re: IBM Survivor, The High Road, & Find the Function!

2008-06-05 11:45 • by real_aardvark
199029 in reply to 199011
pitchingchris:
# 1 was a chicken. You don't make it all the way to the end to quit voluntarily. He probably weeded out those whose test indicated they didn't have the proper skills for the job because some of the answers were supposed to be common knowledge of the field and they wanted someone with at least an understanding. (Especially in the field of consulting, why should you pay someone who doesn't already know how to do the job you have for them. You don't consult someone who has to learn their way). Personally, I think if you made it to the one-on-one, you are about to go over the hill and things get easier after that. Guess we'll never know.
That's very sweet, in a naive and idyllic sort of way.

Have you ever had dealings with a Consultant?

Re: IBM Survivor, The High Road, & Find the Function!

2008-06-05 11:45 • by NotAPerv (unregistered)
About a year ago when I was looking to switch jobs I had a recruiter call me and pitch me a few jobs, yadda yadda yadda. He wanted to meet me so that he could tell the client he had met me in person, etc. Typical recruiter stuff. Well, it was a Friday and I was still employed so I said I'd meet him after work. I got done with work about 5:30 PM, so then I set out to see him - his office was about 45 minutes away.

Apparently I was messing with his Friday night plans because he called me half way through the trip asking if I wanted to reschedule - I said no, I was already on my way. When I finally got there he had decided to leave, so instead I got to interview with someone else - a 22-year-old blonde former cheerleader.

So what could have been some lame meeting with some recruiter dickhead turns out to be an awesome twenty minutes as she was very cute and very nice. She knew absolutely nothing about technology or the positions I was going for and I had to explain everything I did and what terms meant and so forth but she was easy on the eyes so it was no bother. I wasn't surprised when she said she had only been working there for about a month and a half. My guess was this was her first job out of college.

As a bonus though she obviously had no idea how to dress professionally - although she was skinny by any definition, her shirt didn't quite fit and so the vertical opening down the front was gaping open between two of the buttons, so the whole time I could see the top of her belly and the bottom of her bra. My guess would be that she was oblivious to this and had been basically flashing people all day when she sat down.

So overall, well worth the trip.

Re: What is "programming"?

2008-06-05 11:47 • by Zecc
199031 in reply to 199015
obediah:
Your answer doesn't scale. An engineer/programmer may be worth more salt than a programmer, but they cost more salt as well. If you've got enough engineering work for 10 people and programming work for 100 people, you'd waste a lot of money by hiring 110 engineer/programmers.
My point was that AlanGriffiths' meaning of "programming" may not have been off, but rather his meaning of "software engineer". A "software engineer" may not know squat about programming per se, but a lot about creating computer systems. Much like an architect doesn't have much practice about laying down bricks.

Re: IBM Survivor, The High Road, & Find the Function!

2008-06-05 11:47 • by SomeCoder (unregistered)
199032 in reply to 199012
yet another Matt:


You should have hung around outside to see who Topper was, since presumably immediately after you left, he would have gotten up, insulted the interviews technique and their parentage, and then rappelled out of the window.



Ok, that made me laugh :)

Re: IBM Survivor, The High Road, & Find the Function!

2008-06-05 11:50 • by obediah
199033 in reply to 199030
NotAPerv:
About a year ago when I was looking to switch jobs I had a recruiter call me and pitch me a few jobs, yadda yadda yadda. He wanted to meet me so that he could tell the client he had met me in person, etc. Typical recruiter stuff. Well, it was a Friday and I was still employed so I said I'd meet him after work. I got done with work about 5:30 PM, so then I set out to see him - his office was about 45 minutes away.

Apparently I was messing with his Friday night plans because he called me half way through the trip asking if I wanted to reschedule - I said no, I was already on my way. When I finally got there he had decided to leave, so instead I got to interview with someone else - a 22-year-old blonde former cheerleader.

So what could have been some lame meeting with some recruiter dickhead turns out to be an awesome twenty minutes as she was very cute and very nice. She knew absolutely nothing about technology or the positions I was going for and I had to explain everything I did and what terms meant and so forth but she was easy on the eyes so it was no bother. I wasn't surprised when she said she had only been working there for about a month and a half. My guess was this was her first job out of college.

As a bonus though she obviously had no idea how to dress professionally - although she was skinny by any definition, her shirt didn't quite fit and so the vertical opening down the front was gaping open between two of the buttons, so the whole time I could see the top of her belly and the bottom of her bra. My guess would be that she was oblivious to this and had been basically flashing people all day when she sat down.

So overall, well worth the trip.


Hmm. Now I know what all the letters to Penthouse forums would be like if the guys didn't embellish.

Re: IBM Survivor, The High Road, & Find the Function!

2008-06-05 11:57 • by dpm
199037 in reply to 199019
wtf:
As to the expert one, it all seems fake and made up. OK, maybe he couldn't figure out "the function" for the general case, but no way would he not be able to cope with the specific numbers case.

I congratulate you on avoiding the real world. I've had to work with^Wagainst people equally incapable/incompetent/ignorant --- for example, today's luser refers to a shell script as a "shell" and will not accept my explanation. Which explains his report on my progress as to "implementing a new shell".

Re: What is "programming"?

2008-06-05 12:01 • by AlanGriffiths (unregistered)
199039 in reply to 199021
Nobody:
Zecc:
AlanGriffiths:
I realised that "programming" doesn't mean what it did when I learnt English when I received the following in a job specification...

"...this is a job for a software engineer, NOT a programmer"
I'm not sure I understand where you're getting at.
A software enginner is someone who can *design* software given requisites; a programmer is anyone who can implement a project given its specification (ie, *write code*).
Of course, anyone worth its salt combines both.


"Software engineering" is a pseudonym for "project management". Any connection between "software" and "engineering" is tenuous at best. Flame away :-)

Humpty Dumpty: When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less.

Alice: The question is, whether you can make words mean so many different things.

(Alan goes to rummage around for the original jobspec...it was neither of these things.)

Re: IBM Survivor, The High Road, & Find the Function!

2008-06-05 12:01 • by vt_mruhlin
When college graduation was looming near, Career Services set me up with an on-campus interview with the IT department at a well known home improvement store chain.

There was another guy in the waiting room who said he was interviewing with the same company. "great, there's my competition", I thought as I stared intimidatingly at him from across the room.

Two candidates left, soon followed by two interviewers who called us back. OK, it was standard practice to have each candidate do an interview with each interviewer. I wondered which one I would have first, and what their role was.

They led us both back to the same room and proceeded to interview us both at the same time. It didn't really help the intimidation factor that the other guy was a grad student. They'd ask me a question, then get his opinion on the matter (and why I was wrong).

In the end though, I got called back to headquarters for further interviews (and was eventually offered the job). He was not.

Re: IBM Survivor, The High Road, & Find the Function!

2008-06-05 12:06 • by Silmaril (unregistered)
199041 in reply to 199016
Well, there is a risk here too. She could have a bad idea of why you really needed to go to the bathroom.

But maybe that's only me and my wretched mind ;)

Re: IBM Survivor, The High Road, & Find the Function!

2008-06-05 12:07 • by Silmaril (unregistered)
199043 in reply to 199016
AT:
Third option on the popping-top: Plead that you foolishly drank a large cup of coffee/water/soda just before the interview and you desperately need a quick restroom break. That gives her an opportunity to discover and correct her clothing failure while preserving ambiguity as to whether you actually noticed the spill.


the previous message was in answer of this one

Re: IBM Survivor, The High Road, & Find the Function!

2008-06-05 12:11 • by kimbo305 (unregistered)
Re: High Road

I think it would have been best to alertly and bluntly point out the button pop right away, blaming it on the shirt.

If he ignored it, how would it look if they got out of the interview and there was 3, 4 buttons undone?

captcha: eros. Interesting

Re: IBM Survivor, The High Road, & Find the Function!

2008-06-05 12:14 • by alegr
199046 in reply to 199016
AT:
Third option on the popping-top: Plead that you foolishly drank a large cup of coffee/water/soda just before the interview and you desperately need a quick restroom break. That gives her an opportunity to discover and correct her clothing failure while preserving ambiguity as to whether you actually noticed the spill.


If you do it in the bathroom, you'll go blind. And your palms will grow hair.

Re: IBM Survivor, The High Road, & Find the Function!

2008-06-05 12:19 • by jeremypnet
199048 in reply to 199030
NotAPerv:
so the whole time I could see the top of her belly and the bottom of her bra. My guess would be that she was oblivious to this and had been basically flashing people all day when she sat down.

So overall, well worth the trip.

OMG she showed her stomach!!!!!!! I'd drive for days for that.

Are you a Slashdot regular by any chance? Because you seriously need to get a girlfriend.

Re: IBM Survivor, The High Road, & Find the Function!

2008-06-05 12:29 • by jeremypnet
199051 in reply to 199007
Georges:
1. You never Leave an interview, even if it is a shitty interview. Maybe one day you come back to that same company... It's better to have no impression, than a bad one.

Speaking as an ex-IBM employee, I'd say it's probably better to burn your boats with them than not.

I'm being a bit hypocritical. When I left, as per company policy, they gave me an exit interview. It was obviously the first one that the young lady from HR had ever done and she didn't know me at all. She had a form to fill in and she started reading the questions out. For the most part, they were things like: "why is the person leaving?", "where is the person going?", "what could IBM do better?" etc.

Finally she read out "would IBM ever employ the person again?" She got a bit confused there, so I helped her out by saying "put 'yes' down for that".

Re: IBM Survivor, The High Road, & Find the Function!

2008-06-05 12:33 • by Phil (unregistered)
I reckon you should have grabbed a penny from your pocket and aimed at the cleavage. If you land it in there, the job is yours.

Re: IBM Survivor, The High Road, & Find the Function!

2008-06-05 12:40 • by shakin
I once interviewed a very attractive young woman who showed up at the interview with her fly undone and wearing bright pink underwear. Actually, filling that position was a lot of fun because a guy we interviewed for it was so overweight that he broke the chair when he sat on it.

Re: Find the Function!

2008-06-05 13:08 • by Harrow (unregistered)
"...a 120x300 image on a 400*500 stage"

It's extremely cruel to sandbag a candidate like that. Nobody can code a function to such impossible requirements.

I can center a 120*300 image on a 400*500 stage, or a 120x300 image on a 400x500 stage, but there's no reason for a programmer to have memorized the conversion factors between "x" and "*".

-Harrow.

Re: IBM Survivor, The High Road, & Find the Function!

2008-06-05 13:19 • by FredSaw
199057 in reply to 199053
shakin:
I once interviewed a very attractive young woman who showed up at the interview with her fly undone and wearing bright pink underwear.
What, no Sharon Stone impression? Aw...
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