The Winds of Recession (from Juan Seul)
Among other things, my job description at a certain Austrian software company includes interviewing candidates for project manager, developer, and other IT positions. In all my years conducting interviews, I’ve never had one that was all too crazy, and to this day, I still haven’t. But I think I was pretty close.
One day, I had an applicant scheduled for an 11:00 AM interview. She had been downsized a few months ago from a local manufacturing company, and seemed pretty excited at the opportunity to work with my company.
As the time neared by, I took a break from what I was doing and waited for the front desk to call. The clock turned eleven. Then it turned five past. And then ten past. Finally, at quarter after, the front desk rang to say that the candidate had just cancelled the appointment.
“I asked when she’d be available for a reschedule,” the receptionist explained, “but she said she was no longer interested in the position. Apparently, she had walked halfway through the parking lot and found that it was far too windy for her. She just couldn’t see herself going to work through that kind of weather each day.”
A Doomed Interview (from John)
Times have been tough, so I've been looking just about evernwhere for work. Buried in the last page of the local newspaper, I found a tiny job ad seeking a candidate with several technologies I had experience with. Against my better judgment, I called the number and, after a few minutes of small talk, was invited to an interview. Not the next day, not the next week, but right then and there. Within hours, I found myself on a backwater industrial parkway, standing in front of a non-descript building.
Stepping through the front door was like entering a DooM level: dark as hell, a creepy bad atmosphere, and a slight fear that a giant spider was lurking around the corner. As my eyes adjusted to the gloom, it took all of three seconds to realize that I didn't want to work there. Against my better judgment, I headed in and up a dimly lit staircase.
The office was decrepit, devoid of people, and looked like a dingy basement with clutter, files, and junk strewn everywhere.What kind of a person would work here, I asked myself. Against my better judgment, I tapped on the door and called out "Hello?".
Within seconds, a podgy man wearing an ill-fitting shirt and high pants scuffled out from an office behind me. Introducing himself as the managing director, he offered to take me to the tech staff for an interview.
The managing director led me through some more cluttered areas, all which were barely illuminated with flickering bulbs. The atmosphere of silence and despair was overpowering, and no-one seemed to be around. That is, until and Bob appeared.
Tim was a ratty fellow, and Bob a bespectacled introvert who avoided eye contact. There was instant tension, the sort that arises when you intuitively know you have almost nothing in common. The interview started with awkward small talk – they didn’t like sports, they didn’t know what the weather was like, and they had no plans for the upcoming summer months – which lead into a rather long moment of uncomfortable silence.
During this I noticed an unnerving event. Oblivious to the interview, Tim froze for a few seconds and stared intently at an invisible point about two feet from his face. Suddenly, he scrunched his face like he'd eaten the sourest thing in the world. It was almost as if his face was collapsing inwards. Then he shook his head and returning to the interview.
Silence. Then Bob leaned over with a question: "How is your C++, like, are you good?"
I got out an answer about how I had been developing in C++ for years and felt very comfortable with it. And then another uncomfortable silence descended.
Just as I was about to mention STL, Tim asked when I would be available to start, to which I replied “within a week.” The interview ended after that question, and somehow I managed not to run from the office.
Needless to say, once outside, I drove away very quickly. Months later a letter arrived, apologizing for forgetting to inform me of the outcome of the interview. Somehow, I didn't get offered the job...
Oops! (from Drew S)
Having been laid off recently, I interviewed for a developer job at a local pyramid scheme matrix marketing Vacation Company. Within a few minutes of meeting Ray, the company’s COO, he told me that my university degree and six years of prior programming experience were meaningless. Especially when compared with their head IT guy, Phil.
It must have been my lucky day, because not only had Phil graced the office with his presence that afternoon, but was willing to grant me an audience. Shortly after Ray called him, Phil entered the conference room and nodded hello.
Phil began by asked me a few technical questions and then inquired if I had a portfolio available. As a matter of fact I did, so I proceeded to show him my online portfolio, which included all sorts of different code examples and libraries I had written.
“Whooooa there,” Phil stooped me, “we don’t do oop here.”
“I’m sorry,” I said, trying to figure out what “oop” meant, “you don’t do… oop? What do you– wait, do you mean object oriented programming.”
“Yah,” Phil responded, “it doesn’t really fit our business model”.
“Wait,” I was a bit confused, “you guys use ASP.NET; that’s an object-oriented framework.”
Phil scoffed and stood up. “I gotta get back,” he announced. Looking at me, he added “let me know if you have any non-oop code you can show. Then we’ll chat.”
Ray’s eyes intently followed Phil as he exited the conference room. “See what I mean,” he said in a mesmerized tone, “that guy is really hard core.”
I let the sound of silence be my response.
“Get him some code,” Ray said, looking back at me, “he might be willing to take you under his wing. But I’ll have to look at the books and see what makes sense from a hiring standpoint.”
I never got around to sending any “non-oop” code, but I did see their name on the local news a few months later. Something about deceptive sales practices, fraud, investigation, and that sort of thing. They’re not really around anymore, and I can’t say I’m upset by that.