I Guess So (by Stuart Whelan)
The company I worked for was hiring a C++ developer, and I was assigned the job of hiring the candidates. When the scheduled start time of 1:30PM came and went, I went to the lobby to see if there was a scheduling mix up. At around 1:50, while I was chatting with the receptionist, a disheveled fellow walked in the door. "Is this Omni-tech?" he asked.
Subtly looking at the giant wall relief with our logo, I assured him it was. "You must be Gary," I asked.
He nodded, and then walked right back outside. The receptionist and I stared at each other in disbelief and watched him walk to the parking lot and get into a car. He sat there talking with the passenger for a few minutes and then rushed back through our door.
"Okay then," he said, exasperated, "I'm reporting for my interview!"
"Your one-thirty interview," I asked.
He nodded, "I am a bit late."
Though I had pretty much made up my mind about this candidate, I figured the least I could do is give him an interview. So we walked to the conference room and got started.
I generally start with the "generic" question and then move on to the technical ones, so I started off with "so Gary, would you describe yourself as a motivated person?"
"Um... " he thought about it for several seconds, while staring up at the ceiling, "yeah, I guess so."
The interview pretty much went downhill from there, though his last answer was just as memorable as his first. I asked him what attracted him to the position.
"I really like the idea of C++, because of its reusable objects." he said, "I am really into the environment at the moment, and C++ appeals to me because you can recycle other peoples code. It is much more environmentally friendly."
I sat for a moment waiting for the punchline, but it never came.
Computer Skills (from Caleb)
At my company, we send out a simple programming questionnaire to filter out candidates that we don't want to interview for a standard .NET / ASP.NET position. Some of the questions require code, and some of the other questions are simple essay questions.
One question we like to ask is "if you were going to create a new social networking site, what technologies would you use and why?".
The question is meant to see if they just respond back with an answer like "ASP.NET, SQL Server and Ajax" or if they go into more depth and discuss that you might consider an open source stack if you need to scale to millions of users. Either answer is fine at this stage, but the answer tells us a bit about how the candidate thinks.
One particular candidate answered the question as follows
Planning to open a social networking site. Firstly,lookout for people with computer skills to help us. As you may know a domain name is just a name, not a real website. If you are going to create your website: 1- Buy a domain name. To get a domain name, you have to pay an annual fee to a registrar for the right to use that name. 2- Buy a web hosting service to provide your online space and enable you to get your website online at your purchased domain name. If you want to start your website I recommend purchase your domain and hosting together. In this way it is possible to get your domain for free. Some hosting services offer this gift today. They also offer "Free Site Builder" that helps you build your web pages without difficulty if you are not skilled in using any website creating program. (WYSIWYG: What You See Is What You Get)
Strangely enough, his other answers were fairly well-written and easy to understand. A quick google, however, search found that he copy-and-pasted answers from other web sites for 95% of the other questions. He even left behind links from the pages he copied from in the word doc. Needless to say, we didn't call him in for an interview.
The Temporary Offices (by Maxim)
I had left plenty of time to make the interview, and I was happy about that. The company's offices were on a side street in a run-down former-industrial park. Eventually, I found the unmarked door and buzzed my way in. After climbing some metal stairs I met the receptionist who asked me to take a seat. Turning around, the seat turned out to be a busted sofa with a grubby paint-spotted dust sheet over it, which I tried to interpret as a homely small-company thing.
As I sat there I surveyed piles of binders on top of cardboard document boxes on top of filing cabinets, acting as a wall to delineate the reception area. Soon enough I was brought to the meeting room, which allowed me to survey trailing chained multi-way AC outlets across the bare concrete floor and network cables dangling from the exposed AC ducts, the unfinished brick walls and yet more piles of documents acting as walls.
The interview went mostly okay and I aced the programming test. But then, near the usual "any questions" question, things took a turn for the worst.
"So, I can see these offices are temporary," I asked, "when are you expecting to move?"
He gave a confused look. "What do you mean, "temporary?"
"Well, with the trailing wires and piles of binders—"
"We've been here two years," he interrupted, "we designed the decor this way especially and I think it's quite stylish."
Somehow the interview wrapped up very quickly and I never heard back.