Dave was closing in on the end of his college career and receiving a degree in IT. He hoped to get his name out into the “real world” ahead of time, so he sent his meager resumé to a few head-hunters in hopes that they would line something up shortly after his tossed mortarboard hit the ground.

The problem was that he had no relevant work experience, since he spent college focusing on extra-curriculars (see: Chess Club, Magic: The Gathering tournaments, Keg Stand Saturdays). This seemed to limit Dave’s job prospects, until a Chicago-based company came calling. When they asked for an interview, he set aside the challenge it posed: a 3 hour drive, each way, during the school week, through insane Chicago traffic.

They were a reputable company with offices in Chicago’s Willis Sears Tower. On the long drive in, Dave imagined being a big-shot in the city, having face-to-face meetings with the clouds outside his office window. That wouldn’t be a bad start to his IT career.

The six hours of driving would be the shortest part of the day. They wanted Dave in for half a day of technical interviews, followed by lunch, and then “personality interviews” in the afternoon. Dave spent the week brushing up on his core strengths: Java, SQL, and UML. Plenty of people assured Dave he had a great personality.

After surviving the nerve-wracking experience of a country boy trying to find a place to park in a sprawling metropolis, Dave looked upwards as the Sears Tower loomed above him. His interview was on the 54th floor and each passing floor in the elevator seemed to take longer than the last as his nerves became ever-more jangled.

Finally, the doors opened to reveal the front desk of what Dave hoped would be his future employer. The administrative assistant escorted him to a room where a smug guy in a flashy suit waited. He introduced himself as Bob, and didn’t even wait for the handshake to finish before he fired off his first question: “So, explain to me how ASP.NET communicates with the server.”
ASP.NET Lifecycle
Dave was stunned by the question. There was nothing about ASP.NET in his resumé, and they hadn’t mentioned anything about it over the phone. He knew C# was similar to Java, and had used Visual Studio once, but knew nothing about ASP.NET. He muddled through, deciding that ASP.NET couldn’t be that different from any other web application architecture, even if it was made by Microsoft. He grabbed a dry erase marker and drew a nifty diagram of how he thought ASP.NET worked. He was impressed with himself for handling such a curve-ball. Hopefully, the interviewer was just as impressed, and they could move onto Dave’s core skills.

Instead, what followed was another 30 minutes of ASP.NET questions. Dave’s responses were roundabout and with a large amount of educated guessing, but Dave felt pretty good about his responses. After thirty minutes, Bob stood up, shook Dave’s hand, and escorted him back to the waiting area.

Dave let out a sigh of relief, thinking the hard part was over. His stomach rumbled at the idea of the upcoming free lunch. If he could make it that far, the “teamwork” and “social” interviews in the afternoon would be a breeze. Bob returned a few minutes later. “I’m sorry, but we’re going to have to ask you to leave. You weren’t selected to move on.”

After the long commute and the harrowing interview, Dave’s hopes for a free lunch (and future employment) were dashed. He gathered his things, and Bob escorted him to the elevator, and climbed in with him. Mustering his courage, Dave asked, “So… what questions did I miss?”

Bob rolled his eyes, and smugly replied, “You pretty much got everything right, which was impressive. You just took too long. We want experienced programmers, y’know ten years in the industry, the usual. We’ll keep you on file, and maybe when you’re a big boy programmer, we’ll bring you back in.”

Dave resisted the urge to hit the elevator’s emergency stop button and bash Bob’s head against the elevator wall. It was obvious that neither Bob nor any of the other ASP holes he worked with had actually looked at Dave’s resumé.

As he stepped off the elevator, Dave’s belly roared, upset with not being awarded a free lunch. He crossed the street to enjoy some Chicago-style deep-dish pizza and ease his pain. The pizza was the only good thing that happened on this wasted trip.

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