Have your own Tale From an Interview? Don't hesitate to send it to me.
The Next Big Thing (from "CPound")
I recently found an advertisement in one of those thin newspapers near the entrance of the grocery store. It read:
Seeking software developer to create the next generation app. No one has thought of this before! Major potential, great $$$! Contact me at 555-1234."
I was out of work at the time and thought, what the heck, let's see what this new idea that "no one has thought of" was all about. So I gave the guy a call and we agreed on a time to meet at his offices.
I arrived at the address he gave me and it was one of those ramshackle, semi-abandoned plazas off a service road. I hesitated a bit before walking into the tiny "suite" and considered just going back home. But I figured I wasted gas on this, so here goes.
The office had nothing more than a table, a couple chairs, and a yellowed PC with one of those ancient bulky monitors. As I walked in, the guy came out of what looked like the bathroom and asked me to sit down and tell him about myself and my experience.
I gave him the whole spiel, and he seemed really impressed and excited. But the whole while, I was wondering if what I saw was what I'd get: just him, his small office, and his yellow PC. I decided to inquire a bit about his operation.
"Well, it's just me and a couple investors right now," he said, "We have to keep this real quiet."
He paused for a moment and continued, "it looks like you're a great candidate for the position, but I can only tell you more if I can have your solemn agreement that you will take the job."
I raised an eyebrow and stared intently.
"I'm offering this job to you right now," the guy clarified.
"I'm sorry," I said, as alarm bells were going off in my head, "but you still haven't told me what it is you want to accomplish. How can I agree to something when I have no idea what I would be doing? If you want I can sign a confidentiality agreement—"
"Oh no no no," he said, cutting me off. "That's not necessary. No paperwork here. Too much to keep up with."
More alarms went off. "Really, I have no problem signing—"
"Fine. Fine." he conceded. "I'll give you a broad outline. Two words: blog-ging."
"That's funny," I laughed a little bit. He innocently looked back with a what?-expression. "Seriously... blogging? Uh...what about it?"
"It is the newest thing to the web," he lit up. "This is going to be huge! Every day we will be posting new content. It will be fresh and informative, and will take the world by storm!"
"Are you saying that blogging is..." I thought for a moment, "new? You do realize that blogging has been around for years? And that before that, people were doing online journal—"
"Oh yeah," he countered, "but do these blogging sites have ad-ver-tise-ments?"
"Yes," I said matter-of-factly. "I can show you, just Google 'John's Blog' or 'Mike's Blog'. I'm sure you'll get thousands of results."
"Hmm," he said, glaring back, "we don't have internet access here yet."
I ended the interview shortly after that. On my way out, he shouted "now don't tell anybody about this!" Whoops.
Too Primitive for COBOL (from Jill)
Nearly twenty-five years ago, I was looking for a job as a COBOL programmer and landed an interview at a mid-sized payroll processing firm. The interviewer seemed nice enough and started out by asking the standard job interview questions. As I’d answer, he’d often interrupted me with random questions about my résumé.
“Wait a sec,” he said, cutting off my explanation of some programming problem, “you worked at CorbaDyne? I think I’ve heard of them before. Where are they based out of?”
I told him they were based out of Cape Town.
“Cape Town,” he replied, raising an eyebrow. “Where is that, in Vermont?”
“Actually,” I said, slightly clearing my throat, “it’s in South Africa.”
The interviewer stared at me for a few moments, deep in thought. Without saying a word, he clicked his pen, shook his head, and dropped my resume down on his desk. He let out a deep sigh.
“Okay,” he said in disappointed tone, “well now I know you’re lying. I mean really, everybody knows that Africa hardly even has electricity, let alone computers, let alone COBOL programmers! You could have at least picked a place like Scotland!”
Needless to say, it turned out the opportunity wasn't a good fit, after all.
"The Best" Interview (from Len)
A while back, I had a pleasure of interviewing "The Best". That was the nickname we had for him long before the interview, as he used that phrase — Proper Case and all — all over his cover letter. And clearly, his background was The Best; he had degrees in Biochemistry, Neuroscience, Programming, Automotive Technologies, and a few others fields.
I was running a little late to the interview, so my colleague got started without me. When I walked in to the conference room, The Best was in the middle of lecture about how completely unnecessary Object Oriented Programming was. I just figured he was a fan of functional programming or something.
When it came time for the technical questions, however, his answers had me wondering.
"What is inheritance?" he was asked.
The Best smiled and answered, "it's when you give a variable a value of a different variable."
We threw him another softball question. "What is a class?"
"I do not know," he shrugged, "but I would look it up."
"Okaaay," I said, moving on to another question. "what is a SQL join?"
"I do not know," he said in the same tone, "but I would look it up."
Almost every question we asked yielded the same response. As we finished up the interview, The Best shared with us a link to his personal website, and we coudln't resist checking it out."
As we perused his site, we found a page that linked to his University transcript. And by University, he meant the local community college. We also found out that, by saying "I have a degree in..." he actually meant failing or dropping out of a class in that discipline.