The Starting Salary (from Steve)
After a massive layoff during the dot com crash years, I had gotten used to my employers closing their doors after just two years. At the same time, I had no trouble finding employment in other web design companies.
One of the interviews I got was so ridiculous, I couldn't believe I had wasted my time there. It started off pretty well, I was asked about my experience in web design, integration, Flash, etc. They joked about my previous employers going out of business while they've been in the game for 20 years or something.
I was asked if I had ever managed a web server. "No, that didn't really have anything to do with my other skills and experience," I began. "But I could probably assist your sysadmin if needed."
"Well, that's part of what we need. We see you in a graphic designer slash sysadmin slash office assistant role." What? That wasn't what I was expecting to hear, but I went along with it, saying I could probably handle it (despite having no intention of being their office slave).
When the question of salary expectations eventually came up. They never asked what I expected, but simply declared that I could start the very next day at the "starting salary." Red flag. After giving him a moment to finish his thought, I realized that he'd given all the information he wanted to. "So... what is the starting salary?" I asked.
He looked at me funny and declared that he wasn't sure what the minimum wage was exactly but that his partner would handle that part of the deal. "Minimum wage?!" I asked, incredulous.
He tried to reassure me. "Well, that would be a probation salary for 3 months. If your performance is satisfactory, we would review your salary at that point."
"Minimum wage for a graphic designer is ridiculous enough but you would also want me to act as your sysadmin?" I didn't care about these jerks at this point, so I let my anger flow. "No wonder you're still in business after all these years, slave labor goes a long way! Would you actually review my salary after 3 months to a 300% increase, or would you find my systems administration experience unsatisfactory and let me go to find another willing idiot?"
I walked out of there knowing I didn't react professionally, but then, it was all a big joke anyway.
Can You Be More Specific? (from Maciek)
After two years in a small company, I decided it was time to move on. I'd sent out a few résumés and shortly after I was invited to my first interview. It was for a programmer/designer job in one of the larger Polish banks. After 30 minutes of soft HR questions that almost totally exhausted me (back then I didn't know how to answer them) it was time for some "technical" questions from a team lead. The guy looked like he had just finished smoking, drinking, crying, or all three, because his eyes were completely bloodshot. A brief portion of our discussion:
Team lead: How do you feel about numbers?
Me: Uh... could you be a little more specific?
TL: You know, this is a bank, after all. We deal with a lot of numbers, and we have to be very precise about them!
Me: Well, I always did well in math and in my current job I deal with a lot of numbers. We gather data about land areas and we have to be very precise about it.
TL: OK, second question: What do you think about testing?
Me: Uh... could you be a little more specific?
TL: You know, you write a bit of code, your teammate writes a bit of code... it needs to be tested!
Me: Uh, yes... I'm sure it does...
TL: Hmm... OK, no more questions. Thanks for your time.
Needless to say, I didn't get the job. Six months later I found out that they didn't hire anybody. An external company was paid for the recruiting process and it was this company's responsibility to find someone. The recruiting team from the bank was just interviewing people to get away from other work. They didn't want to risk hiring anybody because if somehow a candidate was hired and eventually fired, they would be blamed for hiring him in the first place.
Old Boss, Meet New Boss! (from Keith)
It was my second interview for a job that needed to be filled "right away" according to my recruiter. I was the only candidate from among the rest that seemed remotely competent (recruiter's words, not mine), and that I should try and schedule my second interview immediately with HR for some time within the next day during their usual business hours (9-5). Considering I was still employed elsewhere from around 8 to 5, my only option was to schedule the interview during the lunch hour the next day. Luckily, my employer at the time was pretty lax when it came to taking lunches, so a 1.5 hour lunch wasn't out of the question.
Anyways, this second interview was to be a lunch interview where I'd get to meet the people I'd likely be working with, and get some of the non-work-related conversation out on the table. As is their tradition, I got to pick from a couple of nearby restaurants, and I picked the one that I had been to before where I knew the food was good.
After being seated, I was promptly asked questions like "Do you play any video games?" and "If I could have any super power, what would it be?". It was at this point that I realized that I'd be working with some fun people, and knowing that made this "interview" much more relaxing. Moments after becoming relaxed, I had all the reasons in the world to tense right back up. My current boss entered the room, along with a coworker/friend that knew I was out interviewing, and two of our clients. Not only that, the host seats them at the one table directly adjacent to ours, with my chair facing their way. I was caught red-handed.
I whispered to my prospective supervisor, "*psst* — that is my current boss sitting right next to us."
"Really? That's no good." He decides the best course of action is to wave down the host that had seated us earlier.
"Ma'am, can we be seated elsewhere? I'd like a better view of the big screen TV." The host, with a confused look on her face, begrudgingly waits for us to gather our things and leads us to the other corner of the room. "Much better," he says.
"Phew, thank you," I say, still completely in shock, trying to think of excuses to feed my boss for when I returned to work after lunch.
"Well, it seems we have no choice but to hire you."
And two weeks, one day later, I was in my new cube. I'm not sure if this occurrence was the turning point in their decision to hire me due to feeling sorry, but something tells me I would have gotten the job anyway. I think it was due to agreeing with my new boss that being invisible would be the best superhero ability to possess.