Comment On The Best, The TDWTF Interview, and The Storm-out

The Best (from Chris) A while back, I helped interview for a programmer position on the web team. After talking to a number of candidates, we finally settled on an older gentlemen, probably in his late 50s. It wasn't an easy decision. Not only were his salary requirements above what we planned to pay, he had a few personality quirks. For example, a large part of his interview entailed him describing how he was a master composer of music, and had published songs in nearly every genre, including country, rap, pop, etc. But no matter, his experience and technical skills were top-notch. [expand full text]
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Re: The Best, The TDWTF Interview, and The Storm-out

2010-09-02 11:06 • by Cbuttius
So many interviews / hiring is based on "have you played with the right toys"?, often asked by people who are clueless (IT managers) and being able to answer questions like "what are you looking for".

Poor hiring decisions and poor organisation ultimately leads to the WTFs in our industry.

Re: The Best, The TDWTF Interview, and The Storm-out

2010-09-02 11:15 • by Cbuttius
That the interviewee was asked to code-review their production code: Perhaps if you are not hired you should bill them for your services...

Re: The Best, The TDWTF Interview, and The Storm-out

2010-09-02 11:23 • by boog (unregistered)
TFA:
When they came back, I complimented them on the clever examples of bad code and presented them with my rewrite. One of interviewers — the chattier of the two — didn't say another word; he was clearly upset, and I was half-concerned it might get physical.

If it'd been my code, I'd have asked him to not only show his rewrite, but explain what's wrong with the existing code and why his code is better. If he could justify his remarks, I'd hire him and try to learn from my own mistakes. If he couldn't, I'd have told him why he was mistaken, thanked him for his time, and hoped the next candidate was better.

Programmers shouldn't take criticism over code so personal. Code is not art. It's not something that you pour your soul into. It's just code. As long as it gets the job done and other programmers can maintain it, it doesn't matter who "likes" it.

Re: The Best, The TDWTF Interview, and The Storm-out

2010-09-02 11:25 • by Anon (unregistered)
What exactly does anybody expect to gain from the whiny "you picked the wrong guy" response to a rejection letter. Do they really expect the guy on the other end to suddenly come to their senses and exclaim "My God! He's right! What a terrible mistake we've made!"?

I heard a story from somebody a while back that after sending a rejection letter saying they'd picked somebody else they go a terse reply "then you have picked poorly".

Way to burn bridges.

Re: The Best, The TDWTF Interview, and The Storm-out

2010-09-02 11:27 • by anon (unregistered)
"The Storm-out" might be a WTF, but it's all too common.

Re: The Best, The TDWTF Interview, and The Storm-out

2010-09-02 11:31 • by Nexzus
320676 in reply to 320671
Anon:
What exactly does anybody expect to gain from the whiny "you picked the wrong guy" response to a rejection letter. Do they really expect the guy on the other end to suddenly come to their senses and exclaim "My God! He's right! What a terrible mistake we've made!"?

I heard a story from somebody a while back that after sending a rejection letter saying they'd picked somebody else they go a terse reply "then you have picked poorly".

Way to burn bridges.


It's almost like suing your former employer to get your job back. I know the majority just up and quit on the first day back, but I bet there's a fair number of people that stay at the place they sued.

Re: The Best, The TDWTF Interview, and The Storm-out

2010-09-02 11:32 • by Julia
He also said that he'd taken the liberty of rewriting my resume to include a couple of things about my experience troubleshooting IIS...


...which is a sure-fire way to plenty of timewasting interviews where every answer meets the riposte "but your resume says you're an expert with (insert WTFware here)".

And it's not just technical stuff they fake. I had the joys of meeting such an agency once. Told them that as a relatively new mother I wasn't going to relocate or stay away from home. They doctored the resume to tell the victim company I was fine for a contract that involved alternating 3-month periods between UK and Saudi Arabia...

Re: The Best, The TDWTF Interview, and The Storm-out

2010-09-02 11:34 • by Anonymous (unregistered)
Shouldn't this be in the "Tales from the Interview" section?

Re: The Best, The TDWTF Interview, and The Storm-out

2010-09-02 11:35 • by flyboyfred (unregistered)
320679 in reply to 320670
boog:
Programmers shouldn't take criticism over code so personal.

You're right, but we're not machines either. It hurts to be corrected and to have your code be called a great example of bad code. Let's hope they learned something from it.

Re: The Best, The TDWTF Interview, and The Storm-out

2010-09-02 11:35 • by cystm (unregistered)
The sad part is that the company that this "technical recruiter" works for is actually going to charge the client for finding anyone they deem fit. Meanwhile they're actually filtering out anyone decent. By very nature the recruiter works there because the recruiting company needed someone "technical" to do interviews. I'm sure this guy spouted off for a bit about servers, ISPs and IIS and was hired on the spot.

Re: The Best, The TDWTF Interview, and The Storm-out

2010-09-02 11:35 • by Trevor D'Arcy-Evans (unregistered)
I had a telephone 'interview' once which went along the lines of:

- what is a 'dataset'?
- what is 'reflection'?
- have you used any third party grid controls?

I stumbled through some answers which I could tell the recruiter didn't understand and then named a contract rate which was 10% above the market rate. The next thing I knew the recruiter was asking me to start on Monday! Unfortunately, it was the project from hell and I left after my minimum agreed 3 months. The money was really good but not worth the stress.

Re: The Best, The TDWTF Interview, and The Storm-out

2010-09-02 11:40 • by Lone Marauder (unregistered)
320683 in reply to 320677
Julia:

...which is a sure-fire way to plenty of timewasting interviews where every answer meets the riposte "but your resume says you're an expert with (insert WTFware here)".

And it's not just technical stuff they fake. I had the joys of meeting such an agency once. Told them that as a relatively new mother I wasn't going to relocate or stay away from home. They doctored the resume to tell the victim company I was fine for a contract that involved alternating 3-month periods between UK and Saudi Arabia...


I usually cut off stuff like this by handing them *my* resume. Had more than one interviewer find it interesting that what I gave the recruiting company is different than what I gave them.

It honestly makes me wonder how people like that stay in business. Honestly, if I found out that a recruiter was falsifying applicant data just to put people in front of me, I would no longer use the lying sack of crap.

Re: The Best, The TDWTF Interview, and The Storm-out

2010-09-02 11:40 • by wtf (unregistered)
320684 in reply to 320679
flyboyfred:
boog:
Programmers shouldn't take criticism over code so personal.

You're right, but we're not machines either. It hurts to be corrected and to have your code be called a great example of bad code. Let's hope they learned something from it.


It also sucks to miss the chance to say no to a job (or yes, who knows) because you can't phrase things in a reasonably safe way.
A dispassionate approach - here's what I take to be the purpose of this code, here's why I'd do it this other way - might be a better tack to take in an interview situation.

Re: The Best, The TDWTF Interview, and The Storm-out

2010-09-02 11:42 • by Lone Marauder (unregistered)
320685 in reply to 320683
Lone Marauder:

I usually cut off stuff like this by handing them *my* resume. Had more than one interviewer find it interesting that what I gave the recruiting company is different than what I gave them.


Gaah, stupid distractions. That should read, "Had more than one interviewer find it interesting that what the recruiting company gave them was different than what I gave them."

Re: The Best, The TDWTF Interview, and The Storm-out

2010-09-02 11:48 • by by (unregistered)
Recruiter: Have you ever felt the side of the server to see if it was frozen?
Me: No, that's not what that means.
Recruiter: Actually, that is exactly what it means--the computer will be cold if it is frozen.

Re: The Best, The TDWTF Interview, and The Storm-out

2010-09-02 11:48 • by Carl (unregistered)
Then they showed me two half pages of code in PHP.


So...one page?

Re: The Best, The TDWTF Interview, and The Storm-out

2010-09-02 12:06 • by Huborice (unregistered)
Actually, I was just looking for the `close tab' button. *storms out*

More seriously: Is TDWTF suffering a DDoS or something? Site's awfully slow, and it was downright offline for a few minutes. Maybe some actually decent attacker had his WTF posted here and he didn't like it...

--
Note from Alex: Slowness has been mostly caused by this, and it's since been fixed. Faster for all, I hope?

Re: The Best, The TDWTF Interview, and The Storm-out

2010-09-02 12:10 • by SomeCoder (unregistered)
Why do recruiters like to pretend that they are actually companies that want to interview you?

A while back when I was looking for work, I got a call from a recruiter. From the sound of the call, it sounded like he was actually a company and wanted to interview me for an actual position.

Once I got there, he had me take a Perl test which I passed with flying colors. It was only after going through the test that I realized that he wasn't a "company" but rather just a recruiter.

I guess if they just say "Hey, I'm a recruiter" up front, then most people will just ignore them? *shrug*

She's easy.

2010-09-02 12:10 • by frits
Me, to my Ex:

"you could have had the best, now you'll just have the rest!"

Yep.

Re: The Best, The TDWTF Interview, and The Storm-out

2010-09-02 12:15 • by onitake (unregistered)
and of course, the wtf here is going from perl to php. :)

on the other hand, a capable perl coder with zero php experience should be able to grok out at least decent php code with a little learning...

Re: The Best, The TDWTF Interview, and The Storm-out

2010-09-02 12:25 • by Ryde (unregistered)
320694 in reply to 320690
SomeCoder:
Why do recruiters like to pretend that they are actually companies that want to interview you?

...

I guess if they just say "Hey, I'm a recruiter" up front, then most people will just ignore them? *shrug*


Pretty much. Its anecdotal, but recruiters seem to have a very bad reputation amongst the more skilled developers for exactly the reason demonstrated in this WTF.

Re: The Best, The TDWTF Interview, and The Storm-out

2010-09-02 12:25 • by pkmnfrk
320695 in reply to 320693
Apache is iis, in the sense that it is a service that provides information over the internet. The distinction is in the lower case letters.

Also,

onitake:
and of course, the wtf here is going from perl to php. :)

on the other hand, a capable perl coder with zero php experience should be able to grok out at least shitty, perl-like php code with a little learning...


FTFY.

Re: The Best, The TDWTF Interview, and The Storm-out

2010-09-02 12:29 • by wtf (unregistered)
320696 in reply to 320688
Carl:
Then they showed me two half pages of code in PHP.


So...one page?


Um, no. Two half pages. Two sheets of paper with approximately half a page of code on each.

Re: The Best, The TDWTF Interview, and The Storm-out

2010-09-02 12:30 • by wtf (unregistered)
320697 in reply to 320695
pkmnfrk:
Apache is iis, in the sense that it is a service that provides information over the internet. The distinction is in the lower case letters.

Also,

onitake:
and of course, the wtf here is going from perl to php. :)

on the other hand, a capable perl coder with zero php experience should be able to grok out php code with a little learning...


FTFY.


FTFY (your "fix" was redundant)

Re: The Best, The TDWTF Interview, and The Storm-out

2010-09-02 12:32 • by Anonymous2 (unregistered)
320698 in reply to 320678
Anonymous:
Shouldn't this be in the "Tales from the Interview" section?


Agree. Tales from the Interview, not Feature Article.

Or is TFTI the same as FA the same as Apache the same as IIS?

Re: The Best, The TDWTF Interview, and The Storm-out

2010-09-02 12:33 • by Matthew (unregistered)
320699 in reply to 320693
onitake:
on the other hand, a capable perl coder with zero php experience should be able to grok out at least
decent php code with a little learning...


Why? They don't produce decent perl code. Nobody does.

Re: The Best, The TDWTF Interview, and The Storm-out

2010-09-02 12:37 • by wtf (unregistered)
320700 in reply to 320699
Matthew:
onitake:
on the other hand, a capable perl coder with zero php experience should be able to grok out at least
decent php code with a little learning...


Why? They don't produce decent perl code. Nobody does.


grok = understand, not produce

go read some Heinlein, you'll like it.

Re: The Best, The TDWTF Interview, and The Storm-out

2010-09-02 12:52 • by Anon (unregistered)
320702 in reply to 320670
boog:
TFA:
When they came back, I complimented them on the clever examples of bad code and presented them with my rewrite. One of interviewers — the chattier of the two — didn't say another word; he was clearly upset, and I was half-concerned it might get physical.

If it'd been my code, I'd have asked him to not only show his rewrite, but explain what's wrong with the existing code and why his code is better. If he could justify his remarks, I'd hire him and try to learn from my own mistakes. If he couldn't, I'd have told him why he was mistaken, thanked him for his time, and hoped the next candidate was better.

Programmers shouldn't take criticism over code so personal. Code is not art. It's not something that you pour your soul into. It's just code. As long as it gets the job done and other programmers can maintain it, it doesn't matter who "likes" it.


Agreed, but I think this was the bit that did it:

I complimented them on the clever examples of bad code and presented them with my rewrite.


It's one thing to have somebody criticize your code, it's another to have somebody think it's actually a joke.

Re: The Best, The TDWTF Interview, and The Storm-out

2010-09-02 12:53 • by Cbuttius
Recruitment agencies are not working in the best interests of either the company they are hiring for or the candidate. They are working in their own best interests. They are businesses too.

I have dealt with many of them - often too painful really. They always claim to have a good working relationship with the line managers, and most of the time they are lying.

They also forget that today's candidate could be tomorrow's hiring manager. Once you have placed someone they will be an insider in the companies where you are trying to place. Give your candidates a proper service and have a good working relationship with them and if you place one, make sure you get feedback and insider information on new positions they are hiring for and their real requirements, and maybe some feedback as to what the work is actually like.

If developers were opened up to better "real" information as to what jobs are available and what they are really like, and if proper real feedback were given back on developer's actual ability, there would not be nearly so many WTF stories.

Re: The Best, The TDWTF Interview, and The Storm-out

2010-09-02 12:54 • by boog (unregistered)
320704 in reply to 320679
flyboyfred:
You're right, but we're not machines either. It hurts to be corrected and to have your code be called a great example of bad code. Let's hope they learned something from it.

Point taken. I suppose his wording could have been more tactful.

Still, I'd have laughed and said, "really? what's so bad about it?" instead of getting all moody. But I suppose every developer is different.

Re: The Best, The TDWTF Interview, and The Storm-out

2010-09-02 13:06 • by davedavenotdavemaybedave
320705 in reply to 320700
wtf:
Matthew:
onitake:
on the other hand, a capable perl coder with zero php experience should be able to grok out at least
decent php code with a little learning...


Why? They don't produce decent perl code. Nobody does.


grok = understand, not produce

go read some Heinlein, you'll like it.


That's an overly simplistic definition of grok. It seems that you don't grok grokking, or you could grok it to someone else better than that. :)

If you grok something, you are it and it is you; the space it has in your head is an accurate picture of what it is, which is why you have also written it.

If you've read Neal Stephenson's Anathem, you might agree that it takes a stab at the same problem from another direction.

Re: The Best, The TDWTF Interview, and The Storm-out

2010-09-02 13:08 • by boog (unregistered)
320706 in reply to 320702
Anon:
It's one thing to have somebody criticize your code, it's another to have somebody think it's actually a joke.

Well, if the shoe fits...

Still, I'd want to hear why he thought it was a joke. Is my code really a joke? Or maybe the guy who called my code a joke really doesn't get it or is an idiot (and if that were the case, it could make a great WTF story from the other side). Unless I swallow my pride and ask, I may never know.

Re: The Best, The TDWTF Interview, and The Storm-out

2010-09-02 13:16 • by davedavenotdavemaybedave
320707 in reply to 320703
Cbuttius:

They also forget that today's candidate could be tomorrow's hiring manager. Once you have placed someone they will be an insider in the companies where you are trying to place. Give your candidates a proper service and have a good working relationship with them and if you place one, make sure you get feedback and insider information on new positions they are hiring for and their real requirements, and maybe some feedback as to what the work is actually like.


I am a hypothetical recruiter, Nick (*spit*). I place Bob at Smallco Ltd. Bob is happy with my service, and so are Smallco, but that's their recruitment done for the next year or eighteen months.

I am another, unethical hypothetical recruiter, Mephistopheles (*double spit*). I see Smallco's requirements, and sell them Cedric, whom I know will not fit what they're looking for. I have now earned as much commission as Nick, but my clients are both looking for another spin on my magic merry-go-round -- because if I'm good, I've persuaded both of them that the mismatch was just an unfortunate clash of personalities, and not my fault. I send them Derek and Eric as the next two, neither of whom work out either. Meanwhile, Cedric is doing the job Derek just left, and so-on. Two or three iterations may pass before the companies in question wise up -- but by that time, I'm working for another recruitment co on a much higher salary, having made triple the placements Nick made.

Re: The Best, The TDWTF Interview, and The Storm-out

2010-09-02 13:19 • by Fred (unregistered)
320709 in reply to 320695
pkmnfrk:
shitty, perl-like php code
Any code that doesn't look like line noise is for mental weaklings that don't deserve to be writing code in the first place. Give them a GUI and let them drag and drop buttons until they die.

Anyone who doesn't know what line noise looks like is too young to work in this profession.

You're not cool unless you've whistled into a modem and had it respond.

Re: The Best, The TDWTF Interview, and The Storm-out

2010-09-02 13:48 • by Sally (unregistered)
320711 in reply to 320687
by:
Recruiter: Have you ever felt the side of the server to see if it was frozen?
Me: No, that's not what that means.
Recruiter: Actually, that is exactly what it means--the computer will be cold if it is frozen.

No that only works if the caller's name is Sally....

Re: The Best, The TDWTF Interview, and The Storm-out

2010-09-02 13:53 • by illum (unregistered)
320713 in reply to 320702
Anon:
boog:
TFA:
When they came back, I complimented them on the clever examples of bad code and presented them with my rewrite. One of interviewers — the chattier of the two — didn't say another word; he was clearly upset, and I was half-concerned it might get physical.

If it'd been my code, I'd have asked him to not only show his rewrite, but explain what's wrong with the existing code and why his code is better. If he could justify his remarks, I'd hire him and try to learn from my own mistakes. If he couldn't, I'd have told him why he was mistaken, thanked him for his time, and hoped the next candidate was better.

Programmers shouldn't take criticism over code so personal. Code is not art. It's not something that you pour your soul into. It's just code. As long as it gets the job done and other programmers can maintain it, it doesn't matter who "likes" it.


Agreed, but I think this was the bit that did it:

I complimented them on the clever examples of bad code and presented them with my rewrite.


It's one thing to have somebody criticize your code, it's another to have somebody think it's actually a joke.

So, what were they expecting? That he would look at the code and say, "Nope, can't find any problems with it."

Re: The Best, The TDWTF Interview, and The Storm-out

2010-09-02 13:57 • by RogerC
320714 in reply to 320709
Fred:
pkmnfrk:
shitty, perl-like php code
Any code that doesn't look like line noise is for mental weaklings that don't deserve to be writing code in the first place. Give them a GUI and let them drag and drop buttons until they die.

Anyone who doesn't know what line noise looks like is too young to work in this profession.

You're not cool unless you've whistled into a modem and had it respond.

And I bet you've also punched a deck that makes the card reader sing "Mary Had a Little Lamb" while reading it, right?

Re: The Best, The TDWTF Interview, and The Storm-out

2010-09-02 14:04 • by NutDriverLefty (unregistered)
320715 in reply to 320714
No, but I have written a print job that made the line printer do Beethoven's Fifth. :-)

Re: The Best, The TDWTF Interview, and The Storm-out

2010-09-02 14:05 • by frits
320716 in reply to 320714
RogerC:
Fred:
pkmnfrk:
shitty, perl-like php code
Any code that doesn't look like line noise is for mental weaklings that don't deserve to be writing code in the first place. Give them a GUI and let them drag and drop buttons until they die.

Anyone who doesn't know what line noise looks like is too young to work in this profession.

You're not cool unless you've whistled into a modem and had it respond.

And I bet you've also punched a deck that makes the card reader sing "Mary Had a Little Lamb" while reading it, right?


I heard "Smoke on the Water" will get you more chicks.

Re: The Best, The TDWTF Interview, and The Storm-out

2010-09-02 14:05 • by A (unregistered)
Actually, Yahoo! is an ISP.

You can get Yahoo! BB service in Japan.
http://bbpromo.yahoo.co.jp/

Re: The Best, The TDWTF Interview, and The Storm-out

2010-09-02 14:11 • by Peter (unregistered)
Later that day, I just got an e-mail from him thanking me for his time

I'll bet that made Joshua feel even more confident in the interviewer.

Re: The Best, The TDWTF Interview, and The Storm-out

2010-09-02 14:11 • by acsi (unregistered)
320719 in reply to 320717
A:
Actually, Yahoo! is an ISP.

You can get Yahoo! BB service in Japan.
http://bbpromo.yahoo.co.jp/

Are you kidding me? Askimet didn't mark this as spam?

Re: The Best, The TDWTF Interview, and The Storm-out

2010-09-02 14:11 • by Franz Kafka (unregistered)
320720 in reply to 320695
pkmnfrk:
Apache is iis, in the sense that it is a service that provides information over the internet. The distinction is in the lower case letters.


Why do you even bother justifying the cruiter's idiocy? IIS is a specific product, and the generic term is web server.

/i know, don't feed trolls...

Re: The Best, The TDWTF Interview, and The Storm-out

2010-09-02 14:14 • by paratus (unregistered)
320721 in reply to 320718
Peter:
Later that day, I just got an e-mail from him thanking me for his time

I'll bet that made Joshua feel even more confident in the interviewer.


Joshua:

He scribbled something down on his paper mumbling something about how a bank is probably an ISP and added, "have you troubleshot IIS?"

"Not, but I have maintained several Apache servers."


What, did he say it just to rhyme?

Re: The Best, The TDWTF Interview, and The Storm-out

2010-09-02 14:22 • by Tyler
320722 in reply to 320720
Franz Kafka:
pkmnfrk:
Apache is iis, in the sense that it is a service that provides information over the internet. The distinction is in the lower case letters.


Why do you even bother justifying the cruiter's idiocy? IIS is a specific product, and the generic term is web server.

/i know, don't feed trolls...


. <--- The joke

* <--- Your head


Apache is an "IIS" because it is a server of information on the Internet, just like Google is an "ISP" because it is a provider of services on the Internet.

Re: The Best, The TDWTF Interview, and The Storm-out

2010-09-02 14:27 • by frits
320723 in reply to 320721
captchaMan:

Joshua:

He scribbled something down on his paper mumbling something about how a bank is probably an ISP and added, "have you troubleshot IIS?"

"Not, but I have maintained several Apache servers."


What, did he say it just to rhyme?


He was doing the short form of a "Not" joke. The long form would be:

"I have troubleshot IIS. Not! But I have maintained several Apache servers."

Re: The Best, The TDWTF Interview, and The Storm-out

2010-09-02 14:30 • by verto (unregistered)
320724 in reply to 320723
frits:
captchaMan:

Joshua:

He scribbled something down on his paper mumbling something about how a bank is probably an ISP and added, "have you troubleshot IIS?"

"Not, but I have maintained several Apache servers."


What, did he say it just to rhyme?


He was doing the short form of a "Not" joke. The long form would be:

"I have troubleshot IIS. Not! But I have maintained several Apache servers."


Dang, you tell that joke almost as good as Borat.

Re: The Best, The TDWTF Interview, and The Storm-out

2010-09-02 14:31 • by danixdefcon5
TFA:
His closing words were: "you could have had the best, now you'll just have the rest!"

Am I the only one surprised that a 50-something would actually quote Hackers in a didn't-get-the-job rant?

Re: The Best, The TDWTF Interview, and The Storm-out

2010-09-02 14:31 • by Bill Clinton (unregistered)
320727 in reply to 320722
Tyler:
Franz Kafka:
pkmnfrk:
Apache is iis, in the sense that it is a service that provides information over the internet. The distinction is in the lower case letters.


Why do you even bother justifying the cruiter's idiocy? IIS is a specific product, and the generic term is web server.

/i know, don't feed trolls...


. <--- The joke

* <--- Your head


Apache is an "IIS" because it is a server of information on the Internet, just like Google is an "ISP" because it is a provider of services on the Internet.

That depends on what your definition of iis is.

Re: The Best, The TDWTF Interview, and The Storm-out

2010-09-02 14:37 • by danixdefcon5
320728 in reply to 320722
Tyler:
Franz Kafka:
pkmnfrk:
Apache is iis, in the sense that it is a service that provides information over the internet. The distinction is in the lower case letters.


Why do you even bother justifying the cruiter's idiocy? IIS is a specific product, and the generic term is web server.

/i know, don't feed trolls...


. <--- The joke

* <--- Your head


Apache is an "IIS" because it is a server of information on the Internet, just like Google is an "ISP" because it is a provider of services on the Internet.

I would have fun responding that interview, pulling off lines from The Princess Bride:

Interviewer: We're an ISP, just like Google or Yahoo!
Me: I don't think that word means what you think it means.
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