Hypothetical Question & Tales From The Dump

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  • ObiWayneKenobi 2008-07-02 10:10
    First interviewer was clearly one of those self-important idiots who thinks that they know everything about anything.

    Second... well I think it speaks for itself. Presumably Mr. Kekalorcian or whatever the fuck his name was (I'm guessing that's a real name - nobody could make that shit up) was your typical cheapskate, holier-than-thou business owner who wanted things on the cheap. I mean, anyone who gleefully points out "strikes" against interviewees is a fucking moron.

    Oh, and first!
  • Alan 2008-07-02 10:11
    Well at that point I would hack the starfleet mainframe and insert a scenario in which I could win.
  • DangerMouse9 2008-07-02 10:12
    The best way to handle it is to either: A) keep going up the chain, or B) tell the customer he's being unreasonable and then tell him he'll be missed in the most sarcastic way possible and hang up on him.


  • ObiWayneKenobi 2008-07-02 10:14
    That's what I would have said. "Sir, you're clearly unreasonable and unwilling to compromise. I'm afraid we can no longer do business together. All the best of luck. *CLICK*"

    Of course, the end result would probably be the same.
  • snoofle 2008-07-02 10:15
    I've had to deal with those interviewers that keep asking you what to do when everything you try/suggest will fail. I usually take it 4 or 5 levels and then just reply: if this company/customer is that screwed up, then I'm/you're better off just drawing the line and saying "no". And before they have a chance to respond, I immediately follow up with something along the lines of: Are things really that screwed up here (are the customers really that obnoxious) - because things never work out anywhere near as bad as you just described...

    They invariably respond that they were just trying to see how far I would go before I say I don't know. It usually diffuses the situation and the interview proceeds. If it doesn't, you're better off cutting it short and running for your life.

    As for mispronouncing the interviewer's name, that's really a no-no (at least for major mispronounciations), although the interviewer's reaction was lame...
  • Jason 2008-07-02 10:19
    The same thing happened to me as in the first story :)
  • akatherder 2008-07-02 10:19
    I would assume the interviewer was simply trying to get the interviewee to admit that he didn't know what to do in a situation.
  • ChiefCrazyTalk 2008-07-02 10:20
    That wasn't such a bad interview question. Worst I've heard is "What is a stringbuilders favorite food - pizza or spaghetti"?

  • sakasune 2008-07-02 10:20
    I had an interview once at my university when I was a student that the interviewer asked me to troubleshoot a bad network connection on a lab PC. I went through various testing procedures (release/renew, ping, etc) and then he would keeping saying "okay, if that doesn't work, then what?" I remember my second to last response was "try connecting from another PC with a crossover cable" (I was running out of options), and then my final response was something along the lines of "well screw it, the problem lies somewhere else."

    I did get the job, and the interviewer (who became my boss) told me he was convinced I was right for the job when I came up with the crossover cable. However, his boss who sat in on the interview wasn't very amused by my "screw it" comment.
  • MooseBrains 2008-07-02 10:22
    ChiefCrazyTalk:
    That wasn't such a bad interview question. Worst I've heard is "What is a stringbuilders favorite food - pizza or spaghetti"?



    That's a trick question... StringBuilders are oxygenarian.
  • Lexarius 2008-07-02 10:23
    For the first interview: Maybe offer the customer some sort of compensation? Like X number of free service weeks? Possibly forward him to the company's customer service reps to work something of that nature out?
  • sakasune 2008-07-02 10:24
    In that first interview I would have said "okay, if I'm stuck in traffic then I'll sprout wings and fly to the customer." Then the interviewer would probably reply, "what if you got sucked into a jet engine while flying to the customer?"
  • spinn 2008-07-02 10:26
    The solution was to take the blue pill and exit the Matrix, I suppose.

  • Alan 2008-07-02 10:27
    Lexarius:
    For the first interview: Maybe offer the customer some sort of compensation? Like X number of free service weeks? Possibly forward him to the company's customer service reps to work something of that nature out?


    He acts really insulted and hangs up. Now what do you do?
  • snoofle 2008-07-02 10:28
    sakasune:
    In that first interview I would have said "okay, if I'm stuck in traffic then I'll sprout wings and fly to the customer." Then the interviewer would probably reply, "what if you got sucked into a jet engine while flying to the customer?"

    Reply: then my entrails will splat down upon you and your stupid interviewing technique, and walk out

    or better yet: then I'll be in Heaven and you'll be stuck here in Hell with your WTF customers
  • Tom_fan_63 2008-07-02 10:28
    spinn:
    The solution was to take the blue pill and exit the Matrix, I suppose.

    The blue pill is sold out, now what do you do?
  • Guran 2008-07-02 10:31
    In case of real-life impossible to please customers, the first thing (or at least one of the first things) to do, is to figure out what your contract with them actually states.

    If they expect you to turn up at 3AM sunday morning, they better be paying for 24/7 service. And if they expect you to have a helicopter standing by in case of city wide traffic jams... well it's just fine as long as they are actually paying for it.

    Same thing goes for the "You must get here right now, but I cannot help you" scenarios. If the customer expects you to treat some matter as a top-priority emergency, well your contract should state that they must do the same.
  • Hypo 2008-07-02 10:31
    I'd go to the store and eat a peach.
  • snoofle 2008-07-02 10:37
    Guran:
    If the customer expects you to treat some matter as a top-priority emergency, well your contract should state that they must do the same.

    Interesting. I've never seen that one in a support contract before. Usually, contracts specify what you (the entity providing the support) must do.

    Have you had success putting that into support contracts before, and if so, did the customers object or try to haggle? Usually, they just want you to take care of everything for them and hold their hand.
  • setsockopts() 2008-07-02 10:41
    Interviewer: You're stuck in traffic, no where to go.
    bloodninja: Oh yeah, aight. Aight, I put on my robe and wizard hat.
    bloodninja: I cast Lvl. 3 Eroticism. You turn into a real beautiful woman.

  • Spectre 2008-07-02 10:41
    Alan:
    Lexarius:
    For the first interview: Maybe offer the customer some sort of compensation? Like X number of free service weeks? Possibly forward him to the company's customer service reps to work something of that nature out?


    He acts really insulted and hangs up. Now what do you do?


    I sigh with relief.
  • Alan 2008-07-02 10:42
    Guran:
    And if they expect you to have a helicopter standing by in case of city wide traffic jams... well it's just fine as long as they are actually paying for it.


    My old company actually had a similar arrangment with a client, If you think that is awesome, you have never seen the power of the word "helicopter" to turn a really urgent issue into a mere high priority one.
  • snoofle 2008-07-02 10:43
    Spectre:
    Alan:
    Lexarius:
    For the first interview: Maybe offer the customer some sort of compensation? Like X number of free service weeks? Possibly forward him to the company's customer service reps to work something of that nature out?


    He acts really insulted and hangs up. Now what do you do?


    I sigh with relief.
    and note in the log that the customer did not request additional assistance. Ticket closed.
  • DoubleUFive 2008-07-02 10:46
    @ObiWayneKenobi... Nice language. You kiss your mom with that pottymouth?
  • Anon 2008-07-02 10:48
    I don't see anything wrong with the hypothetical question. The point is to see if you can come up with novel solutions if they regular solutions fail and to see if you'll get flustered when you keep hitting road blocks. The key for the interviewee is to exit this game gracefully without looking like a dick.
    I had a similar experience interviewing with at my current job where the interviewer was asking what to do if a user doesn't like an application. We stopped after getting to the point where the user just doesn't want to use a computer at all.

    For the second story, if you can't pronounce the interviewers name, then just don't even try. Let them introduce themselves first. I also had the same experience with the my current position, but my boss wasn't a dick about it. He knew most people couldn't pronounce his name at first.
  • Yep 2008-07-02 10:48
    Hypo:
    I'd go to the store and eat a peach.

    Peach famine has wiped peaches off the face of the planet!
    Now what do you do?
  • John 2008-07-02 10:48
    Spectre:
    Alan:

    He acts really insulted and hangs up. Now what do you do?


    I sigh with relief.


    You suddenly find you cannot breathe, now what do you do?
  • akatherder 2008-07-02 10:51
    Hypo:
    I'd go to the store and eat a peach.


    What the hell good would a peach do? This situation can only be solved with Mentos (the freshmaker).
  • blah 2008-07-02 10:51
    Tom_fan_63:
    spinn:
    The solution was to take the blue pill and exit the Matrix, I suppose.
    The blue pill is sold out, now what do you do?
    Take the purple pill called Nexium!
  • Mii 2008-07-02 10:54
    Wrong, the color purple doesn't exist in this reality, what do you do?
  • AnonCoward23 2008-07-02 10:55
    DoubleUFive:
    @ObiWayneKenobi... Nice language. You kiss your mom with that pottymouth?


    Actually, he kisses your Momma with that pottymouth!
  • kingjoebob 2008-07-02 10:57
    ChiefCrazyTalk:
    That wasn't such a bad interview question. Worst I've heard is "What is a stringbuilders favorite food - pizza or spaghetti"?



    The worst interview question i ever got was while interviewing for an all linux shop doing computational computing for scientific research. The panel or 8 interviewers the main guy asked "So Emacs or Vi?" ... Either way you are losing points...
  • Kuli 2008-07-02 10:59
    snoofle:
    As for mispronouncing the interviewer's name, that's really a no-no (at least for major mispronounciations), although the interviewer's reaction was lame...

    Normally I'd assume that the interviewer should introduce himself first...

    -Kuli
  • Ben Curthoys 2008-07-02 11:03
    I would reprogram the customer's AI to fear and respect me.

    Or just destroy the Kobayashi Maru myself, on the grounds that it's obviously a trap.
  • Rick 2008-07-02 11:05
    kingjoebob:

    The worst interview question i ever got was while interviewing for an all linux shop doing computational computing for scientific research. The panel or 8 interviewers the main guy asked "So Emacs or Vi?" ... Either way you are losing points...


    I always ask this question. I don't care which one they answer. I just want to know that they are comfortable editing with one of them and don't want to waste time asking questions about the one that they don't use.
  • BadReferenceGuy 2008-07-02 11:07
    Simon should be glad he didn't get the job, since clearly he was interviewing with Lyle.
  • DOA 2008-07-02 11:12
    “Well then, I would just ring you, since you appear to have the correct solution.”
    -10 for not playing the interviewer's game.
    +100 for style.
  • Guran 2008-07-02 11:14
    snoofle:
    Guran:
    If the customer expects you to treat some matter as a top-priority emergency, well your contract should state that they must do the same.

    Interesting. I've never seen that one in a support contract before. Usually, contracts specify what you (the entity providing the support) must do.

    Have you had success putting that into support contracts before, and if so, did the customers object or try to haggle? Usually, they just want you to take care of everything for them and hold their hand.


    Well, that´s pretty much the terms of Microsofts partner support.
    You may freely register a case as highest priority, but if you are not available to assist them when they ask for log files, steps to reproduce the error, install fixes etc, they will lower the priority.

    Only fair in my book. If you want me to show up in your server hall RIGHT NOW, but can't spare someone to let me in until tomorrow.... well, then you don't really need me there until tomorrow.
  • java.lang.Chris; 2008-07-02 11:15
    kingjoebob:
    ChiefCrazyTalk:
    That wasn't such a bad interview question. Worst I've heard is "What is a stringbuilders favorite food - pizza or spaghetti"?



    The worst interview question i ever got was while interviewing for an all linux shop doing computational computing for scientific research. The panel or 8 interviewers the main guy asked "So Emacs or Vi?" ... Either way you are losing points...


    That's easy, the interviewers are Emacs weenies. No self respecting user of the one true editor calls it "Vi" - it's "VI", and pronounced as two syllables.
  • real_aardvark 2008-07-02 11:16
    kingjoebob:
    ChiefCrazyTalk:
    That wasn't such a bad interview question. Worst I've heard is "What is a stringbuilders favorite food - pizza or spaghetti"?



    The worst interview question i ever got was while interviewing for an all linux shop doing computational computing for scientific research. The panel or 8 interviewers the main guy asked "So Emacs or Vi?" ... Either way you are losing points...
    The correct answer to this one is "yes."

    Hope that helps for the next interview.
  • skztr 2008-07-02 11:17
    kingjoebob:
    The worst interview question i ever got was while interviewing for an all linux shop doing computational computing for scientific research. The panel or 8 interviewers the main guy asked "So Emacs or Vi?" ... Either way you are losing points...


    I ask that question during interviews because the response tells a lot:
    "huh?" = Not very familiar with the environment
    immediate 1-word response = familiar with the environment
    "well I've used (vi or emacs) routinely for 27 years while working at..." = doesn't touch a computer outside of work.
    the name of some derivative = familiar with the environment for reasons other than ancient history.
  • morry 2008-07-02 11:17
    #1) ask for 3rd party arbitration. Choose the Grizellas
  • Steve 2008-07-02 11:23
    Alan:
    Well at that point I would hack the starfleet mainframe and insert a scenario in which I could win.
    We are obviously channeling one another. My precise thought.
  • Steve 2008-07-02 11:23
    Alan:
    Well at that point I would hack the starfleet mainframe and insert a scenario in which I could win.
    We are obviously channeling one another. My precise thought.
  • magi 2008-07-02 11:26
    kingjoebob:

    The worst interview question i ever got was while interviewing for an all linux shop doing computational computing for scientific research. The panel or 8 interviewers the main guy asked "So Emacs or Vi?" ... Either way you are losing points...


    Not at all -- I always ask what their favourite editor is. Had a lad 9 months ago who said "vi", so I called him a pervert and recommended him for the job
  • mauhiz 2008-07-02 11:26
    Well I know people whose farts makes you wish you were in that dump-smelling office.
  • operagost 2008-07-02 11:28
    Hypothetical scenarios have been outlawed. Now what do you do?
  • Teh Irish Gril Riot 2008-07-02 11:30
    spinn:
    The solution was to take the blue pill and exit the Matrix, I suppose.



    Whoa, dude, hang on there. I don't think that the blue pill will remove anyone from the Matrix once they've already taken the red pill.

    Or maybe it does. That one guy did take a deal with Agent Smith to be re-inserted... then again I'm not sure if a blue pill was needed.
  • Matt.C 2008-07-02 11:33
    Simon should be glad he didn't get the job, since clearly he was interviewing with Lyle.


    Lyle would have told him what Lyle would have done better.

    Behold, the Kekalorcian! Man that's a fun word to say.
  • jtl 2008-07-02 11:35
    The city is bring evacuated due to an impending nuclear strike! WHAT DO YOU DO!?!?!

    'Flee?'

    The customer is angry with you.
  • Ozz 2008-07-02 11:36
    kingjoebob:
    The worst interview question i ever got was while interviewing for an all linux shop doing computational computing for scientific research. The panel or 8 interviewers the main guy asked "So Emacs or Vi?" ... Either way you are losing points...

    That's easy. Vi.
  • foowho 2008-07-02 11:37
    jtl:
    The city is bring evacuated due to an impending nuclear strike! WHAT DO YOU DO!?!?!

    'Flee?'

    The customer is angry with you.


    Not for long.
  • ozymandias 2008-07-02 11:37
    kingjoebob:
    ChiefCrazyTalk:
    That wasn't such a bad interview question. Worst I've heard is "What is a stringbuilders favorite food - pizza or spaghetti"?



    The worst interview question i ever got was while interviewing for an all linux shop doing computational computing for scientific research. The panel or 8 interviewers the main guy asked "So Emacs or Vi?" ... Either way you are losing points...


    Three interviews in a row asked me that question.

    The 'worst' question I have ever been asked?

    Head interviewer: "How do you tell if a system is using grub or lilo on boot if they are both installed."
    Me: I am not 100% sure of the exact command, but I would run 'dd' on the first few hundred bytes of the primary partition, and use a combination of 'strings' and 'grep'to search for 'GRUB'.
    Head interviewer: Shit. Wait... you can do that? I would say update both lilo and grub and make note on boot. That was supposed to be a trick question.
    Secondary interviewer: No way that would work.

    ... debate comences among all 4 interviewers for a few minutes...

    Owner: Well, shit guys, we are wasting time here. We have 16,000 linux boxes, I am sure that we can find at least one we can test this on.

    I was offered the job before I left the interview, when it turned out I was right.

    I left that company 3 years ago, and have since been contacted twice with a request to come back.
  • ozymandias 2008-07-02 11:40
    magi:
    kingjoebob:

    The worst interview question i ever got was while interviewing for an all linux shop doing computational computing for scientific research. The panel or 8 interviewers the main guy asked "So Emacs or Vi?" ... Either way you are losing points...


    Not at all -- I always ask what their favourite editor is. Had a lad 9 months ago who said "vi", so I called him a pervert and recommended him for the job


    In my experiance that question comes at the end of the interview and it is a "how will this guy fit with the team" sort of question. They are not asking what editor you use, they are asking "Does he have a sense of humor" and "Is this guy a close minded dick who thinks his way is best".
  • real_aardvark 2008-07-02 11:41
    skztr:
    kingjoebob:
    The worst interview question i ever got was while interviewing for an all linux shop doing computational computing for scientific research. The panel or 8 interviewers the main guy asked "So Emacs or Vi?" ... Either way you are losing points...


    I ask that question during interviews because the response tells a lot:
    "huh?" = Not very familiar with the environment
    immediate 1-word response = familiar with the environment
    "well I've used (vi or emacs) routinely for 27 years while working at..." = doesn't touch a computer outside of work.
    the name of some derivative = familiar with the environment for reasons other than ancient history.
    M'lud, I think we're done with this wit(less)ness.

    I rest my case.
  • zolf 2008-07-02 11:44
    Tom_fan_63:
    spinn:
    The solution was to take the blue pill and exit the Matrix, I suppose.

    The blue pill is sold out, now what do you do?

    I wake up!
  • mjl 2008-07-02 11:44
    kingjoebob:
    ChiefCrazyTalk:
    That wasn't such a bad interview question. Worst I've heard is "What is a stringbuilders favorite food - pizza or spaghetti"?



    The worst interview question i ever got was while interviewing for an all linux shop doing computational computing for scientific research. The panel or 8 interviewers the main guy asked "So Emacs or Vi?" ... Either way you are losing points...


    You would lose even more points saying notepad
  • Anonymous 2008-07-02 11:44
    jtl:
    The city is bring evacuated due to an impending nuclear strike! WHAT DO YOU DO!?!?!
    'Flee?'
    The customer is angry with you.

    Five minutes later, the customer isn't angry any more. He's not happy either, but honestly you don't care that much. Ticket closed.
  • gilhad 2008-07-02 11:46
    I just can see this before my eyes:

    Me: Than I will blow my cover and simply teleport there
    Him: I want to see this
    Me: You are welcome, just wait to the conditions you just described will occure and I will show it to you.
  • MadJo@Work 2008-07-02 11:47
    Hypo:
    I'd go to the store and eat a peach.

    The peach tastes like chicken, now what are you to do?
  • coderdude4k 2008-07-02 11:48
    You are in an open field west of a big white house
    
    with a boarded front door.
    There is client here.
    > LOOK CLIENT

    I don't understand that.
    > TAKE CLIENT

    The client is too large.
    > SAY HI

    The client doesn't notice you.
    > GET ATTENTION

    I don't understand that.
    > YELL

    The client turns and looks at you angrily.
    > APOLOGIZE

    What do you want to apologize to?
    > CLIENT

    I don't understand that.
    > APOLOGIZE CLIENT

    The client accepts your apology, but says his server is
    down and he wants to cancel his contract.
    > APOLOGIZE CLIENT

    The client accepts your apology, but says his server is
    down and he wants to cancel his contract.
    The client looks sick.
    > LOOK CLIENT

    The client has died. 0 out of 0 point(s).
    Now what do you do?
    > QUIT GAME

    I don't understand that.
  • ChiefCrazyTalk 2008-07-02 11:51
    real_aardvark:
    kingjoebob:
    ChiefCrazyTalk:
    That wasn't such a bad interview question. Worst I've heard is "What is a stringbuilders favorite food - pizza or spaghetti"?



    The worst interview question i ever got was while interviewing for an all linux shop doing computational computing for scientific research. The panel or 8 interviewers the main guy asked "So Emacs or Vi?" ... Either way you are losing points...
    The correct answer to this one is "yes."

    Hope that helps for the next interview.


    Actually its a (lame) test of mental ability - they note your answer and ask the same question again half an hour later but reverse the two options ("spaghetti or pizza" instead of "pizza or spaghetti"). If you give the same answer both times you pass. Supposedly, 80% of candidates fail this test. Personally, as long as they don't answer "Whats a stringbuilder" I don't mind.
  • real_aardvark 2008-07-02 11:52
    As for Simon's Hypothetical Question in general, that's easy too.

    Through long experience with this sort of thing, I have evolved a general policy.

    I'll play along with the first two or three cretin questions (as per Simon), and I figure that by the third derivative, the whole thing is a waste of time. There are three options at this point:

    (1) The Steve Yegge option. "Thanks for inviting me here. DYHAAFM?"
    (2) The frightening option: "Do you not KNOW? Have you bathed in the blood of the LAMB?" (It helps if you are standing on top of the table here. In my experience, allinterview rooms have tables.) "I would ask Goooood to forgive my unworthy and unshriven soul. And then I'd phone McGyver."
    (3) The sensible option: "I've been in this business for twenty years, sonny, and I know what I'm talking about. You, on the other hand, are just a spotty twenty-three year old, fresh out of college, and clearly clueless. I'm off for a cheese-burger now. Care to join me and learn my wisdom? You're paying."

    I normally pick the third one. Depends whether I'm manic or depressive at the time.
  • ounos 2008-07-02 11:58
    Tom_fan_63:
    spinn:
    The solution was to take the blue pill and exit the Matrix, I suppose.

    The blue pill is sold out, now what do you do?

    I'd resign the job and go after the woman in the red dress.
  • Greg 2008-07-02 12:02
    The first one is not a WTF. It's a question that determines if you can keep your cool with an unreasonable customer. Unreasonable customers happen. Getting flustered and giving a smart-ass answer is not ok. You lost your cool, so you failed. End of story.

    A better answer would probably be to apologize to the customer that you weren't able to meet their needs, offer to continue to do all you can to rectify the situation and give them your superior's contact information (or their superior) to escalate the issue.
  • vt_mruhlin 2008-07-02 12:05
    Ozz:
    kingjoebob:
    The worst interview question i ever got was while interviewing for an all linux shop doing computational computing for scientific research. The panel or 8 interviewers the main guy asked "So Emacs or Vi?" ... Either way you are losing points...

    That's easy. Vi.


    I countered "Firefox, Safari, or Opera?" with "Lynx" and got the job.

    For that question, I'd say either notepad or Word. The interviewer most likely wants to check whether or not you actually know what both are (slight possibility that they want to know if you actually have an opinion).

    The joke answer is a good way to say:
    1) Yes, I know they're both text editors, and
    2) It's a freaking text editor. I'll use whichever one I want and it's none of your business.
    3) I have a sense of humor and you can actually get along with me.
  • krupa 2008-07-02 12:10
    Greg:
    The first one is not a WTF. It's a question that determines if you can keep your cool with an unreasonable customer. Unreasonable customers happen. Getting flustered and giving a smart-ass answer is not ok. You lost your cool, so you failed. End of story.


    The first one is totally a WTF. Not because the customer was unreasonable but because everything the interviewee suggested failed. If the guy said "well, I'd ditch my car in the traffic jam and start running to the customer's site" it would probably be met with "a mugger jumps out and breaks your knee-caps with a small length of pipe. Oh, and you can't call 911 on your cell because you're in a dead zone... and the mugger just stole it... by the way, he also hit you in the head and now you have amnesia."

    A hypothetical situation that you can never answer correctly is bullshit.
  • Philly-Bob 2008-07-02 12:16
    I'm sorry, but why didn't the receptionist correct the second interviewer when he mispronounced the name? Then again, she's actually working there... so never mind.
  • Ebs2002 2008-07-02 12:18
    The first one isn't a WTF. The interviewer just played the game, and not the meta-game.

    You never have perfect information related to the problem; how do you react when there is important information hidden from you? Personally, I would have eventually gotten flustered and asked, "Okay, is this going to keep going until I say 'I don't know', or is there some actual answer to this situation?" It shows that I'm thinking outside the box as well as willing to continue as long as it takes.
  • Anon 2008-07-02 12:21
    krupa:
    Greg:
    The first one is not a WTF. It's a question that determines if you can keep your cool with an unreasonable customer. Unreasonable customers happen. Getting flustered and giving a smart-ass answer is not ok. You lost your cool, so you failed. End of story.


    The first one is totally a WTF. Not because the customer was unreasonable but because everything the interviewee suggested failed. If the guy said "well, I'd ditch my car in the traffic jam and start running to the customer's site" it would probably be met with "a mugger jumps out and breaks your knee-caps with a small length of pipe. Oh, and you can't call 911 on your cell because you're in a dead zone... and the mugger just stole it... by the way, he also hit you in the head and now you have amnesia."

    A hypothetical situation that you can never answer correctly is bullshit.


    And read Greg's post again and maybe you'll understand why you just failed the interview.
  • notme 2008-07-02 12:21
    ObiWayneKenobi:
    That's what I would have said. "Sir, you're clearly unreasonable and unwilling to compromise. I'm afraid we can no longer do business together. All the best of luck. *CLICK*".


    Maybe that was more or less what they wanted to hear. You know, most businesses have more than one customer, and while keeping the customers satisfied, it's also important to economize and prioritize your own time and resources. Spending all of them on one customer particularly obnoxious is not a good idea.

    In most service oriented businesses, you are bound to get a few customers who take themselves a lot more important than they are. If you let them get away with playing silly little games with you and your company's resources, you (and your company) are going to regret that much more than if they'd just cancelled their contract.
  • FredSaw 2008-07-02 12:23
    "You must be Mr. Kekacorkian"
    No no no no no. It's "You must be Mr. Tappakeggian."
  • Ninja Programmer 2008-07-02 12:23
    Everyone was seated perfectly in their cubes, silently typing quietly away.
    I'm a Ninja Programmer, but holy shit, these guys are good. They're not just silent, but quietly silent!
  • Anon 2008-07-02 12:29
    Hey guys, I just had this hilarious interview- I asked a guy repeated questions about what he'd do with a stupid client and traffic jams, and kept on ANSWERING THEM! lol

    We hired the boss's nephew, of course.
  • Markp 2008-07-02 12:33
    Teh Irish Gril Riot:
    spinn:
    The solution was to take the blue pill and exit the Matrix, I suppose.



    Whoa, dude, hang on there. I don't think that the blue pill will remove anyone from the Matrix once they've already taken the red pill.


    The red pill is for exiting the Matrix. The blue pill was a roofie.
  • Dude 2008-07-02 12:38
    When i had bad interviews, but this take the cake.
  • Markp 2008-07-02 12:39
    vt_mruhlin:
    I countered "Firefox, Safari, or Opera?" with "Lynx" and got the job.


    Do a lot of AJAX web application testing in Lynx, do you?

    vt_mruhlin:

    For that question, I'd say either notepad or Word. The interviewer most likely wants to check whether or not you actually know what both are (slight possibility that they want to know if you actually have an opinion).

    The joke answer is a good way to say:
    1) Yes, I know they're both text editors, and
    2) It's a freaking text editor. I'll use whichever one I want and it's none of your business.
    3) I have a sense of humor and you can actually get along with me.

    4) You don't know what a text editor is (try compiling code that you wrote in Word...)
    5) You don't think you should have to justify your use of tools, even when it can affect your efficiency (try using Notepad at the speed experienced users use Emacs or VI)
    6) You're a smartass, while not being smart.
  • Anonymous 2008-07-02 12:44
    MooseBrains:
    ChiefCrazyTalk:
    That wasn't such a bad interview question. Worst I've heard is "What is a stringbuilders favorite food - pizza or spaghetti"?



    That's a trick question... StringBuilders are oxygenarian.


    The answer is simple. You can't connect strings of pasta. But you can connect slices of pizza (string) to a single pizza (string)
  • real_aardvark 2008-07-02 12:44
    Greg:
    The first one is not a WTF. It's a question that determines if you can keep your cool with an unreasonable customer. Unreasonable customers happen. Getting flustered and giving a smart-ass answer is not ok. You lost your cool, so you failed. End of story.

    A better answer would probably be to apologize to the customer that you weren't able to meet their needs, offer to continue to do all you can to rectify the situation and give them your superior's contact information (or their superior) to escalate the issue.
    Stick with the Customer Support job, kid. You're an ace!
  • brockleyboyo 2008-07-02 12:46
    Ah that would be a Kobayashi maru question (surely you know but if not just google it). There is no answer, its posed to see how you think of ways out of it and your reaction.

    For my tuppence worth I liked your answer. You'd get a 2nd interview with me for it.
  • real_aardvark 2008-07-02 12:46
    Markp:
    Teh Irish Gril Riot:
    spinn:
    The solution was to take the blue pill and exit the Matrix, I suppose.



    Whoa, dude, hang on there. I don't think that the blue pill will remove anyone from the Matrix once they've already taken the red pill.


    The red pill is for exiting the Matrix. The blue pill was a roofie.
    The cake was a lie.

    Mmmmh ... blue donuts!
  • Joe 2008-07-02 12:47
    I would just beat the customer with a bat. Do us all a favor.

    Oh, same with the interviewer.

    Ummmm, bats....
  • real_aardvark 2008-07-02 12:54
    Markp:
    vt_mruhlin:
    I countered "Firefox, Safari, or Opera?" with "Lynx" and got the job.


    Do a lot of AJAX web application testing in Lynx, do you?

    vt_mruhlin:

    For that question, I'd say either notepad or Word. The interviewer most likely wants to check whether or not you actually know what both are (slight possibility that they want to know if you actually have an opinion).

    The joke answer is a good way to say:
    1) Yes, I know they're both text editors, and
    2) It's a freaking text editor. I'll use whichever one I want and it's none of your business.
    3) I have a sense of humor and you can actually get along with me.

    4) You don't know what a text editor is (try compiling code that you wrote in Word...)
    5) You don't think you should have to justify your use of tools, even when it can affect your efficiency (try using Notepad at the speed experienced users use Emacs or VI)
    6) You're a smartass, while not being smart.
    (4a) Try using "Save As" with ".txt" first. (Yes, I know it's stupid, but you're posing hypotheticals here.)
    (5a) The question is the answer. Exactly how dumb are you, on a scale of 10 to 10 minus epsilon approaching zero?
    (6a) No offence, but the evidence suggests that vt_mruhlin is correct here, and that you're a pointless idiot.
  • Random832 2008-07-02 12:54
    Markp:
    vt_mruhlin:
    I countered "Firefox, Safari, or Opera?" with "Lynx" and got the job.
    Do a lot of AJAX web application testing in Lynx, do you?
    No, but the question didn't specify AJAX web application testing, and since it said "or" it implicitly means use for general web browsing since for testing you would need to use all of the browsers you expect the application to be used with.
    Markp:
    4) You don't know what a text editor is (try compiling code that you wrote in Word...)
    Done; now what, bitch?
    Markp:
    5) You don't think you should have to justify your use of tools, even when it can affect your efficiency (try using Notepad at the speed experienced users use Emacs or VI)
    It's not meant to imply he seriously uses notepad, but rather that he shouldn't have to justify (e.g.) his use of vim to a bunch of emacs fanatics.
  • Fedaykin 2008-07-02 12:58
    The correct answer in the first interview is: Fire the customer. Yes, sometimes customers have to be fired.
  • Binks 2008-07-02 12:59
    Anon:
    I don't see anything wrong with the hypothetical question. The point is to see if you can come up with novel solutions


    Alright, but your novel solution fails because of novel problem. What do you do now?

    Man...I've had DM's like that...no matter what you do, it will fail unless you follow the perfect path ordained by the DM. Looks like in this case there was no perfect path though...
  • Teh Irish Gril Riot 2008-07-02 13:01
    Markp:
    The red pill is for exiting the Matrix. The blue pill was a roofie.


    In that case, I'd opt for the roofie! Perhaps it would put SharePoint in perspective... nah.
  • Skippy 2008-07-02 13:01
    It's the Kobayashi Maru of interview questions!
  • EitherOr 2008-07-02 13:03
    Hypothetical scenarios have been outlawed. Now what do you do?

    Can I ask you a rhetorical question?
  • real_aardvark 2008-07-02 13:04
    Random832:
    It's not meant to imply he seriously uses notepad, but rather that he shouldn't have to justify (e.g.) his use of vim to a bunch of emacs fanatics.
    And now you're just asking for trouble. Let's leave the moron to one side.

    There is no way to justify the use of vim; and certainly not to a bunch of emacs ... in your words .. fanatics.

    In the spirit of harmony, however, I believe there are several emacs modes that emulate vim quite successfully.

    Plz snd meh teh vim emulashun codez 4 ExaMs.
  • tezoatlipoca 2008-07-02 13:04
    Spectre:
    Alan:
    Lexarius:
    For the first interview: Maybe offer the customer some sort of compensation? Like X number of free service weeks? Possibly forward him to the company's customer service reps to work something of that nature out?


    He acts really insulted and hangs up. Now what do you do?


    I sigh with relief.

    You fall down a hole and are eaten by a Grue.
  • Vlad Patryshev 2008-07-02 13:14
    I think I know the answer. From the very first minute you should have told the user that our engineers are already working on the problem. And maintain the user's belief that something is really happening while you are actually in a jam. Getting to the customer's site is a part of your work duty, is not it? So you are working right now.
  • ChiefCrazyTalk 2008-07-02 13:23
    Vlad Patryshev:
    I think I know the answer. From the very first minute you should have told the user that our engineers are already working on the problem. And maintain the user's belief that something is really happening while you are actually in a jam. Getting to the customer's site is a part of your work duty, is not it? So you are working right now.


    Good answer. Reminds me of my days working at pizza hut, where we told that if anyone asks when their pizza will be ready, the answer is always "20 minutes"
  • bex 2008-07-02 13:25
    The hypothetical is all about testing your interpersonal skills. Clearly you didn't pass... but the interviewer probably could have phrased it better.

    The idea is simple:

    1) client has technical problem
    2) client is pissed
    3) no matter what you do, you can't fix the technical problem
    4) so, you have to *shudder* actually TALK to the pissed off client and calm him down yourself

    Its a pretty good test for a lead developer to see if he has management skills.
  • real_aardvark 2008-07-02 13:26
    ChiefCrazyTalk:
    Vlad Patryshev:
    I think I know the answer. From the very first minute you should have told the user that our engineers are already working on the problem. And maintain the user's belief that something is really happening while you are actually in a jam. Getting to the customer's site is a part of your work duty, is not it? So you are working right now.


    Good answer. Reminds me of my days working at pizza hut, where we told that if anyone asks when their pizza will be ready, the answer is always "20 minutes"
    I'm still fucking waiting for mine.

    And don't forget the anchovies!
  • beltorak 2008-07-02 13:40
    java.lang.Chris:

    That's easy, the interviewers are Emacs weenies. No self respecting user of the one true editor calls it "Vi" - it's "VI", and pronounced as two syllables.

    You mean it's not pronounced "six"?
  • Richard 2008-07-02 13:43
    When they said your manager is unreachable, you'd simply leave a message and inform the client that it is a topic they'd have to talk to your manager about. Its not your responsibility to negotiate that stuff and so just staying firm that its not your place to discuss contracts is perfectly acceptable. I have been in similar situations where the client demands money back or that I not bill for hours worked. My response is that they should bring it up with the salesperson, I report my hours, they do the billing.
  • wk633 2008-07-02 13:44
    Actually, the 1st one is pretty easy. You re-apply for the job under a different name. While waiting for a call back, you hack into their HR system and edit the question so that it has a solution.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobayashi_Maru
  • Ojno 2008-07-02 13:45
    jtl:
    The city is bring evacuated due to an impending nuclear strike! WHAT DO YOU DO!?!?!

    'Flee?'

    The customer is angry with you.


    The customer is angry with you!

    Suddenly, a hypothetical question strikes you!

    It seems not to affect you.

    The customer is not deterred...

    A wide-angle disintegration beam hits you!

    You fry to a crisp.

    You die...


    Goodbye Simon the Software Developer...
    You died in The Interview of Doom on question level 1 with 0 points, and 0 pieces of gold, after 9 moves.
  • James O'Boston 2008-07-02 13:46
    To this day, I still wonder how I could have solved that hypothetical question.


    I know! I know!

    clue: "Mother of Pearl, Jim, I'm a doctor, not a physician."


    answer: Kobiyashi Maru

    natch.
  • quantax 2008-07-02 13:49
    “I suppose I’d call my manager and let me know about the situation.”

    The interviewer snapped back, “nope, you can’t ring your manager. He’s not reachable!”

    “I don’t know, I’d ask the customer to ring the office to discuss the contract issue?”

    “Ah ha, but he refuses!”


    The correct answer was:

    "I put on my robe and wizard hat."
  • Anon 2008-07-02 13:51
    Binks:
    Anon:
    I don't see anything wrong with the hypothetical question. The point is to see if you can come up with novel solutions


    Alright, but your novel solution fails because of novel problem. What do you do now?

    Man...I've had DM's like that...no matter what you do, it will fail unless you follow the perfect path ordained by the DM. Looks like in this case there was no perfect path though...


    You're missing the point. It's not about finding a solution, there is no solution and there is no perfect path. It's about dealing with unforeseen problems and repeated frustrating roadblocks. If you can deal with it graciously, then I don't want you in front of a customer.
  • Robert 2008-07-02 13:59
    That's absolutely true, but the fact is that isn't a decision the support engineer should be making. If the engineer is keeping his boss informed, let the boss decide to sever the relationship. Often times the support engineer isn't aware of all the circumstances and only gets to see a slice in time.
  • cconroy 2008-07-02 14:01
    kingjoebob:
    The worst interview question i ever got was while interviewing for an all linux shop doing computational computing for scientific research. The panel or 8 interviewers the main guy asked "So Emacs or Vi?" ... Either way you are losing points...


    Butterflies.
  • cconroy 2008-07-02 14:01
    morry:
    #1) ask for 3rd party arbitration. Choose the Grizellas


    Well played.
  • Robert 2008-07-02 14:01
    Me
    That's absolutely true, but the fact is that isn't a decision the support engineer should be making. If the engineer is keeping his boss informed, let the boss decide to sever the relationship. Often times the support engineer isn't aware of all the circumstances and only gets to see a slice in time.


    Crap - that was in reference to:
    notme
    Maybe that was more or less what they wanted to hear. You know, most businesses have more than one customer, and while keeping the customers satisfied, it's also important to economize and prioritize your own time and resources. Spending all of them on one customer particularly obnoxious is not a good idea.

    In most service oriented businesses, you are bound to get a few customers who take themselves a lot more important than they are. If you let them get away with playing silly little games with you and your company's resources, you (and your company) are going to regret that much more than if they'd just cancelled their contract.
  • Schnapple 2008-07-02 14:12
    I guess I'm the only one who thought the second story was much more interesting.

    Anyway, I find it interesting how the story is presented that the person doing the interviewing is a clueless dickhead when it could be the case that the person being interviewed really didn't know anything and that's why the interview went so horribly. Sure, the interviewer was a dickhead but he might have also been right.
  • Anonymous 2008-07-02 14:13
    Heh...I interviewed at Microsoft once and the guy gave me the same scenario except I was supposed to be at a meeting with Bill Gates that I COULD-NOT-EVER-NEVER-DONT-EVEN-CONSIDER-BEING-LATE.

    The problem with these questions is the context of what the interviewer thinks is a novel answer doesn't always work with the context of the interviewee. In my case, the guy interviewing me was from Fargo, ND and I lived in Los Angeles.

    I stumbled a bit and then told him what he wanted to hear: "I would park my car and flag down a passing motorcycle and ask for a ride through the traffic."

    In retrospect, I should have answered: "Well, where I'm from the only reason you see someone wandering around in traffic on a freeway is A) they are on drugs B) they are mental, or C) they are looking for someone to carjack. So, being that you're from Fargo where probably none of the above happens with any regularity, you'll die at the hands of a maniac trying to impress Bill. For myself, on the other hand, I'm going to call up Bill and tell him to chill until I get there."

    I think I'll have to move into consulting if I ever find myself between jobs. I'm not going to have the patience to deal with stupid interviewer tricks.
  • matt 2008-07-02 14:14
    real_aardvark:
    ChiefCrazyTalk:
    Vlad Patryshev:
    I think I know the answer. From the very first minute you should have told the user that our engineers are already working on the problem. And maintain the user's belief that something is really happening while you are actually in a jam. Getting to the customer's site is a part of your work duty, is not it? So you are working right now.


    Good answer. Reminds me of my days working at pizza hut, where we told that if anyone asks when their pizza will be ready, the answer is always "20 minutes"
    I'm still fucking waiting for mine.

    And don't forget the anchovies!


    20 minutes
  • JohnLocke 2008-07-02 14:16
    notme:
    ObiWayneKenobi:
    That's what I would have said. "Sir, you're clearly unreasonable and unwilling to compromise. I'm afraid we can no longer do business together. All the best of luck. *CLICK*".


    Maybe that was more or less what they wanted to hear. You know, most businesses have more than one customer, and while keeping the customers satisfied, it's also important to economize and prioritize your own time and resources. Spending all of them on one customer particularly obnoxious is not a good idea.

    In most service oriented businesses, you are bound to get a few customers who take themselves a lot more important than they are. If you let them get away with playing silly little games with you and your company's resources, you (and your company) are going to regret that much more than if they'd just cancelled their contract.
  • vt_mruhlin 2008-07-02 14:19
    Random832:
    Markp:
    5) You don't think you should have to justify your use of tools, even when it can affect your efficiency (try using Notepad at the speed experienced users use Emacs or VI)
    It's not meant to imply he seriously uses notepad, but rather that he shouldn't have to justify (e.g.) his use of vim to a bunch of emacs fanatics.


    Ding! Anybody who thinks I will work faster in their text editor is an idiot and has unrealistic expectations of the way their developers spend time. It's not like you're ever going to be down to the wire needing to get this code written so Jack Bauer can geolocate the terrorist's IP before the bomb goes off and Kim is eaten by a mountain lion.

    And if we were in that scenario, I'd rather wait for you to drag your mouse to the "save" button than for you to pull out your vi commands cheat sheet to remember that :w means save.
  • JohnLocke 2008-07-02 14:21
    notme:
    ObiWayneKenobi:
    That's what I would have said. "Sir, you're clearly unreasonable and unwilling to compromise. I'm afraid we can no longer do business together. All the best of luck. *CLICK*".


    Maybe that was more or less what they wanted to hear. You know, most businesses have more than one customer, and while keeping the customers satisfied, it's also important to economize and prioritize your own time and resources. Spending all of them on one customer particularly obnoxious is not a good idea.

    In most service oriented businesses, you are bound to get a few customers who take themselves a lot more important than they are. If you let them get away with playing silly little games with you and your company's resources, you (and your company) are going to regret that much more than if they'd just cancelled their contract.


    I've seen a customer tell a woman : "I know none of this is your fault but... You are a fucking bitch!".
    That customer had a U$ 40 support contract for a tiny software the company maintaned. Her boss already cancelled contracts with one or two unreasonable customers, and he specifically told them something like: "We'd rather not have you as a customer if you can't even respect our employees. So, we're cancelling your contract. Goodbye".
  • Jason 2008-07-02 14:21
    The hypothetical question was clearly a stress test, which ended when you supplied a smart-ass reply after only a few rounds.
  • vt_mruhlin 2008-07-02 14:22
    Anonymous:
    Heh...I interviewed at Microsoft once and the guy gave me the same scenario except I was supposed to be at a meeting with Bill Gates that I COULD-NOT-EVER-NEVER-DONT-EVEN-CONSIDER-BEING-LATE.

    The problem with these questions is the context of what the interviewer thinks is a novel answer doesn't always work with the context of the interviewee. In my case, the guy interviewing me was from Fargo, ND and I lived in Los Angeles.

    I stumbled a bit and then told him what he wanted to hear: "I would park my car and flag down a passing motorcycle and ask for a ride through the traffic."


    Only at Microsoft does "I'd blatantly break the law and risk the safety of others to achieve my own goals" get you the job. Well, maybe the government too.
  • Paul W. Homer 2008-07-02 14:28
    The Hypothetical Answer is that you need to regain "control" of the situation. The trick, if you can call it that, is to pound the ball back to the other side of the court, making it the customer's problem; it's just a demented form of tennis, after all.

    "Ok, sir. We can arrange an immediate on-site visit for you, after you've completed form 23A, in triplicate and emailed it to your designated rep as stated by your contract" you should have replied. That usually ends it, right there.

    "Oh, and by the way, since the hourly support fee is $750 per hour, we'll need a pre-approved PO for the minimum visit of four hours as stated by the contract. You know, all the normal purchasing stuff" you could add if they aren't smart enough to have withdrawn already.


    Paul.
  • servman 2008-07-02 14:33
    On the pronounciation front I've have excellent luck with:

    "Hello Mr. Kekalorikan; Did I get that right?"

    That usually handles it fine. With this guy however...
  • http 2008-07-02 14:36
    Please, please, if that line is yours, may I use that in my .sig file?

    Captcha: facilisis. Is that even a word?
  • Renan "C#" Sousa 2008-07-02 14:41
    Anon:
    I don't see anything wrong with the hypothetical question. The point is to see if you can come up with novel solutions if they regular solutions fail and to see if you'll get flustered when you keep hitting road blocks. The key for the interviewee is to exit this game gracefully without looking like a dick.
    I had a similar experience interviewing with at my current job where the interviewer was asking what to do if a user doesn't like an application. We stopped after getting to the point where the user just doesn't want to use a computer at all.

    For the second story, if you can't pronounce the interviewers name, then just don't even try. Let them introduce themselves first. I also had the same experience with the my current position, but my boss wasn't a dick about it. He knew most people couldn't pronounce his name at first.


    I remember a Dilbert comic where they asked for Dilbert to solve an hypothetical problem during a job interview. When he was done the interviewer said something like "thanks for your time, and we'll call if we have more problems our own staff can't solve."
  • Crabs 2008-07-02 14:46
    I feel bad for all you interviewees. I got my job at my current company (which is a Fortune 100 gov't contractor) by answering "What is a cartesian product?" correctly. My boss said I'd be suprised how many college CS grads don't know the answer.

    Makes me sad, it does.
  • BC 2008-07-02 14:48
    ...but what if the bus you were riding on would explode if it dropped below 50 MPH? What would you do? What WOULD YOU DO?!?
  • CoyneT 2008-07-02 15:30
    "Sir, my inability to serve you has dishonored me, leaving me nothing but to commit Seppuku to restore it. Arrrgggghhh..."
  • Peter 2008-07-02 15:31
    BC:
    ...but what if the bus you were riding on would explode if it dropped below 50 MPH? What would you do? What WOULD YOU DO?!?


    I'd jump over a huge gap that is perfectly level in real life, but adjust camera angles so it looked like it was possible. I'd then ride under the bus so I could disarm the bomb while having someone else drive around an airport on shredded tires. Isn't that obvious?

    (I was dragged in to see this movie by some friends and I just couldn't buy the whole plot in the first place and the total physics issues left me with a gaping jaw. I think it approaches Waterworld for sheer bad movie IMO.)
  • Herby 2008-07-02 15:36
    [quote user="kingjoebob"]


    [/quote]

    The worst interview question i ever got was while interviewing for an all linux shop doing computational computing for scientific research. The panel or 8 interviewers the main guy asked "So Emacs or Vi?" ... Either way you are losing points...[/quote]

    The proper answer to this is:
    "YES".
  • Ken B 2008-07-02 15:45
    Ben Curthoys:
    Or just destroy the Kobayashi Maru myself, on the grounds that it's obviously a trap.
    Darn! Beat me to it.
  • Adriano 2008-07-02 15:48
    vt_mruhlin:
    And if we were in that scenario, I'd rather wait for you to drag your mouse to the "save" button than for you to pull out your vi commands cheat sheet to remember that :w means save.


    Bad example. If you really need a cheatsheet to know the save command, you shouldn't be using that editor. Besides, the same could then be said about Emacs and its C-x C-s (did I get it right?)
  • LintMan 2008-07-02 15:52
    For the hypothetical-case interviewer, it wasn't that the answered being given were "wrong" - he was almost certainly looking for a specific *type* of response and was trying to force the interviewee towards it by gradually removing all other options until no other types of response are left. My guess is that he wanted to force the interviewee to draw a line and personally tell the customer "Sorry, that's the best we can do" or somesuch, while also making sure the interviewee was diplomatic enough not to get pissed and say he'd tell the customer good riddance or to go screw, etc. Giving a smart-ass answer is a definite Fail.

    As for the dump-location job interviewer, I'd probably have walked out at some point. Someone so eager to "take points off" for mispronouncing his name is bound to be a jerk to work for. Combine that with the stinky environment and it adds up to "Why am I wasting my time here? Goodbye." very quickly.
  • Franz Kafka 2008-07-02 15:59
    Crabs:
    I feel bad for all you interviewees. I got my job at my current company (which is a Fortune 100 gov't contractor) by answering "What is a cartesian product?" correctly. My boss said I'd be suprised how many college CS grads don't know the answer.

    Makes me sad, it does.


    So what was your answer? Mine would be 'usually a really bad idea'.
  • real_aardvark 2008-07-02 16:18
    Anon:
    You're missing the point. It's not about finding a solution, there is no solution and there is no perfect path. It's about dealing with unforeseen problems and repeated frustrating roadblocks. If you can deal with it graciously, then I don't want you in front of a customer.
    "Hi there, I'm Mr Anon. But you can call me El Trollo, if you feel like it.

    My hobbies include:

    (1) Doing six impossible things before breakfast
    (2) Inviting innocent weenies to an interview, and then telling them that my customer demands that they attach electrodes to their genitals, right now, and
    (3) Having sex with cute little kitty cats, right through their cute little belly-buttons.

    I have no idea why I've been locked away in this maximum security ward for the criminally insane for the last twenty years.

    But I can make your customers happy!.

    With the help of my kitty-cat friend here.
  • real_aardvark 2008-07-02 16:26
    matt:
    real_aardvark:
    ChiefCrazyTalk:
    Vlad Patryshev:
    I think I know the answer. From the very first minute you should have told the user that our engineers are already working on the problem. And maintain the user's belief that something is really happening while you are actually in a jam. Getting to the customer's site is a part of your work duty, is not it? So you are working right now.


    Good answer. Reminds me of my days working at pizza hut, where we told that if anyone asks when their pizza will be ready, the answer is always "20 minutes"
    I'm still fucking waiting for mine.

    And don't forget the anchovies!


    20 minutes
    I didn't ask you, you moron. I asked ChiefCrazyTalk.

    Christ, I've been waiting since that idiot was half-way through his PhD in nuclear physics. You'd have thought he'd have got it right by now. It's like being on the end of the phone to a call centre in Bangalore, except that you've got some dick-head under-educated American on the other end of the phone rather than a luscious, out-sourced maiden from Bangalore cooing "Press five for delivery in twenty minutes. Press the hash key after that if you want anchovies."

    I want anchovies.

    Hash.
  • real_aardvark 2008-07-02 16:33
    Crabs:
    I feel bad for all you interviewees. I got my job at my current company (which is a Fortune 100 gov't contractor) by answering "What is a cartesian product?" correctly. My boss said I'd be suprised how many college CS grads don't know the answer.

    Makes me sad, it does.
    (a) How often have you ever used a cartesian product?
    (b) How difficult do you think this would be for even the feeblest SQL idiot to look up on the Web and
    (c) This sorta defines the hiring strategy for "Fortune 100 gov't contractors," doesn't it?

    Feebs. Oops, sorry, didn't mean to insult the CIA or any other government agency involved in this lo-tech pork-barrel technological catastrophe.
  • katastrofa 2008-07-02 16:40
    John:
    Spectre:
    Alan:

    He acts really insulted and hangs up. Now what do you do?


    I sigh with relief.


    You suddenly find you cannot breathe, now what do you do?


    "You're in the desert, you see a tortoise lying on its back, struggling, and you're not helping -- why is that?"
  • vt_mruhlin 2008-07-02 16:50
    Adriano:
    vt_mruhlin:
    And if we were in that scenario, I'd rather wait for you to drag your mouse to the "save" button than for you to pull out your vi commands cheat sheet to remember that :w means save.


    Bad example. If you really need a cheatsheet to know the save command, you shouldn't be using that editor. Besides, the same could then be said about Emacs and its C-x C-s (did I get it right?)


    Which is exactly the point I was making. Use the editor that you're most familiar with, not the one that your lead developer is the most familiar with.
  • Liquid Egg Product 2008-07-02 16:56
    vt_mruhlin:


    I countered "Firefox, Safari, or Opera?" with "Lynx" and got the job.



    I'd be vaguely frightened if they considered that a plus.
  • operagost 2008-07-02 17:02
    Greg:

    A better answer would probably be to apologize to the customer that you weren't able to meet their needs, offer to continue to do all you can to rectify the situation and give them your superior's contact information (or their superior) to escalate the issue.


    “I suppose I’d call my manager and let me know about the situation.”

    The interviewer snapped back, “nope, you can’t ring your manager. He’s not reachable!”

    So much for that. IT'S A B.S. INTERVIEW.
  • webhamster 2008-07-02 17:10
    Anon:

    You're missing the point. It's not about finding a solution, there is no solution and there is no perfect path. It's about dealing with unforeseen problems and repeated frustrating roadblocks. If you can deal with it graciously, then I don't want you in front of a customer.


    It's amazing how one missed 't can change the whole meaning of a sentence. Hilarity ensues.
  • TInkerghost 2008-07-02 17:14
    jtl:
    The city is bring evacuated due to an impending nuclear strike! WHAT DO YOU DO!?!?!

    'Flee?'

    The customer is angry with you.

    Not for long.
  • Tempus 2008-07-02 18:05
    Shoot the hostage.
    Oops right actor, wrong movie.
  • Zylon 2008-07-02 18:29
    katastrofa:
    "You're in the desert, you see a tortoise lying on its back, struggling, and you're not helping -- why is that?"

    A tortoise? What's that?
  • AwesomeAtInterviews 2008-07-02 18:51
    Reading stories like the first one makes me realize how good I am at interviews. It's a simple stress test. The answer is that you would stay calm. When so many things are going against you, at one point you realize it's out of your control, and that all you can do is try your best to resolve the issue in a calm manner. Maybe use the opportunity to sell an extra unit to the customer for redundancy so the next failure isn't such a big deal. I would have aced that one.

    The second one is crazy, and the interviewer did the right thing by rejecting the offer.
  • iToad 2008-07-02 19:47
    kingjoebob:
    ChiefCrazyTalk:
    That wasn't such a bad interview question. Worst I've heard is "What is a stringbuilders favorite food - pizza or spaghetti"?



    The worst interview question i ever got was while interviewing for an all linux shop doing computational computing for scientific research. The panel or 8 interviewers the main guy asked "So Emacs or Vi?" ... Either way you are losing points...


    The key to answering this question is based on the fact that there are two or more interviewers asking this particular question. Your best answer is "Which one is better?". The interviewers will immediately get into a huge and entertaining battle among themselves, instead of bothering you with any more questions.
  • Greg 2008-07-02 20:57
    Ok, I'll try to explain my point again. I don't normally ask stress questions like this when I interview people, but, if I was hiring for a job where the candidate had to deal with unreasonable dicks, then I would probably consider acting like an unreasonable dick to see how the candidate would react. If the guy can't deal with an unreasonable dick in a professional manner, then he's not suitable for the job. Some companies just have to deal with unreasonable dicks! That kind of job's probably not for most of the people here, but it's still gotta be done. Ask any tech support guy.

    When you're interviewing for a job, give the interviewer some credit. They might know something you don't. Save the judgment for afterwards when you've got the job offer in hand. That's the best time to tell him he's an unreasonable dick! :)
  • J 2008-07-02 21:11
    This comment... is incredible.
  • Kyanar 2008-07-03 00:25
    snoofle:

    Interesting. I've never seen that one in a support contract before. Usually, contracts specify what you (the entity providing the support) must do.

    Have you had success putting that into support contracts before, and if so, did the customers object or try to haggle? Usually, they just want you to take care of everything for them and hold their hand.


    Standard Microsoft Premier Support contract actually includes that. States that Microsoft is expected to have a tech on-site within {ungodly short time} and you are required to have your technical team standing by to assist at the time.
  • Keith Twombley 2008-07-03 02:44
    When I went to college I had a part-time job managing at a few different McDonald's restaurants in somewhat...downtrodden...parts of town.

    I've had toothless hillbillies scream at me over the per person limit on discount cheeseburgers. I've had a full supersized shake thrown at my head because it was the wrong flavor. I've had toothless methed-out women scream at me over "missing" beanie babies. I've had guys try to jump across the counter because he couldn't get a refund AND his food. They've taken swings at me because their big mac had pickles on it. I've been screamed at by just about every sort of the dregs of society over what amounts to $2 or $3.

    There is absolutely nothing in the IT world that could possibly phase me now.

    People asking these questions have no idea just how nasty people can be to their fellow man.
  • katastrofa 2008-07-03 03:17
    Zylon:
    katastrofa:
    "You're in the desert, you see a tortoise lying on its back, struggling, and you're not helping -- why is that?"

    A tortoise? What's that?


    Know what a turtle is?
  • Tourist 2008-07-03 04:05
    Ojno:
    jtl:
    The city is bring evacuated due to an impending nuclear strike! WHAT DO YOU DO!?!?!

    'Flee?'

    The customer is angry with you.


    The customer is angry with you!

    Suddenly, a hypothetical question strikes you!

    It seems not to affect you.

    The customer is not deterred...

    A wide-angle disintegration beam hits you!

    You fry to a crisp.

    You die...


    Goodbye Simon the Software Developer...
    You died in The Interview of Doom on question level 1 with 0 points, and 0 pieces of gold, after 9 moves.


    Ah this bring back memories!

  • The real wtf fool 2008-07-03 04:50
    ChiefCrazyTalk:

    Actually its a (lame) test of mental ability - they note your answer and ask the same question again half an hour later but reverse the two options ("spaghetti or pizza" instead of "pizza or spaghetti"). If you give the same answer both times you pass. Supposedly, 80% of candidates fail this test. Personally, as long as they don't answer "Whats a stringbuilder" I don't mind.


    What if they answered "Why are you asking me about java/c# classes when you're interviewing for a C++ role?"
  • /dev/null 2008-07-03 04:52
    Tom_fan_63:
    spinn:
    The solution was to take the blue pill and exit the Matrix, I suppose.

    The blue pill is sold out, now what do you do?


    Get hold of pfizer :-P
  • EbbeK 2008-07-03 05:21
    Markp:
    try compiling code that you wrote in Word...

    Back in the day (about 20 years ago) I did just that. MS-Word 2 for DOS was actually a quite decent text editor.
  • JimM 2008-07-03 05:47
    Article:
    the customer says that’s not good enough. He’s threatening to cancel the contract. Now what?”
    “I suppose I’d call my manager and let me know about the situation.”
    The interviewer snapped back, “nope, you can’t ring your manager. He’s not reachable!”
    “I don’t know, I’d ask the customer to ring the office to discuss the contract issue?”
    “Ah ha, but he refuses!”
    "I inform the customer that if he is unwilling to discuss contract issues with staff who can assist him then there is nothing further I can do; I will be at his office as soon as the traffic clears; I will attend to his technical problems as per contract; and I will spend the intervening time while I'm stuck in the traffic jam writing a full report about the interaction I've had with the client for my manager's consideration. I would then end the call."

    Believe me, I understand the point of these questions in an interview, but there's such a thing as pushing the game too hard, and "Ah ha, He refuses to call the office and discuss the contract" is that one step too far. The customer knows that he is talking to a technician who is stuck in a traffic jam, he's threatening to cancel his contract but he won't talk to the people who deal with his contract? Please...
    "Emacs or VI?"
    So many options: the straight ("I'm most familiar with [Emacs|VI|Gedit|Nano|Pico|a.n.othereditor]"); the smart-ass: ("No thanks, I ate before I got here."); the confident ("I'm pretty flexible, so if there's a preferred editor / environment I'll happily use that."); or TDWTF: ("Actually, I write all my code on lined paper, place it on a wooden table, take photographs with a digital camera, print the photographs out, then run OCR on the printouts and compile the resultant text files. It works pretty well, but bug fixes can be a bit arduous...").
    TooMany:
    huhuh - Kobayashi Maru - huhuh
    Yes yes, we're all sad mindless geeks who compare everything we hear / read to Star Trek... thanks for reinforcing the stereotype...
    Various:
    Simon the Sorceror - cool!
    Look

    You are in a traffic jam. There is a mobile phone in your hand

    Examine Phone

    There is an angry customer on other end of the phone

    Wait

    Time passes... the customer is still angry

    Wait

    Time passes... the customer is still angry

    Wait

    Time passes... the customer starts singing about gold

    thank you very much ;^)
  • Bosshog 2008-07-03 05:48
    MadJo@Work:
    Hypo:
    I'd go to the store and eat a peach.

    The peach tastes like chicken, now what are you to do?

    Mmmm, cheach.
  • Anon Barbarzyńca 2008-07-03 06:16
    coderdude4k:
    You are in an open field west of a big white house
    
    with a boarded front door.
    There is client here.
    > LOOK CLIENT

    I don't understand that.
    > TAKE CLIENT

    The client is too large.
    > SAY HI

    The client doesn't notice you.
    > GET ATTENTION

    I don't understand that.
    > YELL

    The client turns and looks at you angrily.
    > APOLOGIZE

    What do you want to apologize to?
    > CLIENT

    I don't understand that.
    > APOLOGIZE CLIENT

    The client accepts your apology, but says his server is
    down and he wants to cancel his contract.
    > APOLOGIZE CLIENT

    The client accepts your apology, but says his server is
    down and he wants to cancel his contract.
    The client looks sick.
    > LOOK CLIENT

    The client has died. 0 out of 0 point(s).
    Now what do you do?
    > QUIT GAME

    I don't understand that.


    You have been eaten by a grue.
  • Dave 2008-07-03 06:49
    The worst interview question i ever got was while interviewing for an all linux shop doing computational computing for scientific research. The panel or 8 interviewers the main guy asked "So Emacs or Vi?" ...

    The correct response here in the UK would be "That would be an ecumenical matter."

    (c.f. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Father_Jack_Hackett for those unfortunate enough not to get the reference)
  • dubdub 2008-07-03 07:31
    vt_mruhlin:
    Ozz:
    kingjoebob:
    The worst interview question i ever got was while interviewing for an all linux shop doing computational computing for scientific research. The panel or 8 interviewers the main guy asked "So Emacs or Vi?" ... Either way you are losing points...

    That's easy. Vi.


    I countered "Firefox, Safari, or Opera?" with "Lynx" and got the job.

    For that question, I'd say either notepad or Word. The interviewer most likely wants to check whether or not you actually know what both are (slight possibility that they want to know if you actually have an opinion).

    The joke answer is a good way to say:
    1) Yes, I know they're both text editors, and
    2) It's a freaking text editor. I'll use whichever one I want and it's none of your business.
    3) I have a sense of humor and you can actually get along with me.


    I'd answer 'I use 'ed', because it is the standard.'

  • Captain Nugget 2008-07-03 07:34
    I exit the cave to the West.

    I have been eaten by a Grue.
  • biskuit 2008-07-03 07:43
    dubdub:

    I'd answer 'I use 'ed', because it is the standard.'


    Wot, no EDLIN?
  • QQ 2008-07-03 08:16
    Greg:
    Ok, I'll try to explain my point again. I don't normally ask stress questions like this when I interview people, but, if I was hiring for a job where the candidate had to deal with unreasonable dicks, then I would probably consider acting like an unreasonable dick to see how the candidate would react. If the guy can't deal with an unreasonable dick in a professional manner, then he's not suitable for the job. Some companies just have to deal with unreasonable dicks! That kind of job's probably not for most of the people here, but it's still gotta be done. Ask any tech support guy.


    I'm sure I'm not the only one who can accept that customers will sometimes be unreasonable dicks, but would be unwilling to work somewhere where my boss was an unreasonable dick. Even though I'm capable of dealing with unreasonable dicks, if someone in a position to interview me acted that way, I'd probably not feel it worth the trouble.
  • Crabs 2008-07-03 08:43
    Franz Kafka:
    Crabs:
    I feel bad for all you interviewees. I got my job at my current company (which is a Fortune 100 gov't contractor) by answering "What is a cartesian product?" correctly. My boss said I'd be suprised how many college CS grads don't know the answer.

    Makes me sad, it does.


    So what was your answer? Mine would be 'usually a really bad idea'.


    I said "it's when you match everything in one set with everything in another set, or in SQL, a cross join. It's usually a really bad idea." I believe those were my exact words.
  • Crabs 2008-07-03 09:00
    real_aardvark:
    Crabs:
    I feel bad for all you interviewees. I got my job at my current company (which is a Fortune 100 gov't contractor) by answering "What is a cartesian product?" correctly. My boss said I'd be suprised how many college CS grads don't know the answer.

    Makes me sad, it does.
    (a) How often have you ever used a cartesian product?
    (b) How difficult do you think this would be for even the feeblest SQL idiot to look up on the Web and
    (c) This sorta defines the hiring strategy for "Fortune 100 gov't contractors," doesn't it?

    Feebs. Oops, sorry, didn't mean to insult the CIA or any other government agency involved in this lo-tech pork-barrel technological catastrophe.



    a) All the time in mathematics. Computer Science (not programming) is mostly math.
    b) Yay for looking things up. That's really not the point. Having some basic knowledge of how sets work is integral to any CS position, and a cartesian product is the most basic of the basic.
    c) Maybe I didn't clarify enough. There were several other questions involving my previous work experience, my skills and abilities, and some tech questions. This was the question that I got right, that no one else they interviewed did.
  • aGeekInTraining 2008-07-03 09:05
    Better yet, Butterflies
  • SuperousOxide 2008-07-03 09:57
    ChiefCrazyTalk:

    Actually its a (lame) test of mental ability - they note your answer and ask the same question again half an hour later but reverse the two options ("spaghetti or pizza" instead of "pizza or spaghetti"). If you give the same answer both times you pass. Supposedly, 80% of candidates fail this test. Personally, as long as they don't answer "Whats a stringbuilder" I don't mind.


    Why should that be a failure if you don't remember which meaningless answer you gave to a meaningless question earlier? Or if you remember and decide to go with the other meaningless answer for variety the second time.

    As for "What's a stringbuilder?" That's a perfectly acceptable response to that question. They may know what a stringbuilder is in relation to software, but obviously this isn't about that kind of stringbuilder (they hate Italian food), so clarification is needed.
  • Ty 2008-07-03 10:30
    Mod me up.

    Solution:

    You: "Hi (say first name), My manager is currently unavailable however I had a chance contact with [insert big important name here] the District Manager of Operations between meetings and he stated to me that I am to get the job done no matter what it takes, wither or not you like it, and no matter how full of angst you get. My manager will be giving you a call tomorrow morning to discuss the contract situation and if you have any further issues with him you may have my personal cell# (give number) to contact me."

    Cust: That isn't good enough, I want to talk to your district manager, now!

    Me: What exactly are your expectations?

    Cust: *Will rant and rave, and be full of angst until you get there, during the time you are fixing the items in question, and until you leave."

    *Interviewer will say you get to the job site but don't have the right tools and cannot acquire them until tomorrow or something.*

    Me: Explain situation to customer, figure out a good solution.

    Cust: Gets full of angst.

    Me: Anything else I can do for you?
    [Solved]

    Now, talking to the interviewer.

    *gets up from table*
    "It's been a nice interview however I believe I will be on my way. If you need to ask people who are going to start here how to plan for every eventuality like that then you are obviously either servicing assholes who will waste your time and money and abuse the help, or you have major problems within the company you're looking for someone with the ability to solve and while I can shovel shit with the best of them, I'm not going to deal with subpar management and neither will anyone else. Thank you for your time, sir."

    That last move will impress them more than anything.


  • Dan 2008-07-03 10:46
    First answer would have been to verify the server was not operating correctly. Otherwise you were in a traffic jam for nothing.
  • kingjoebob 2008-07-03 12:36
    java.lang.Chris;:

    That's easy, the interviewers are Emacs weenies. No self respecting user of the one true editor calls it "Vi" - it's "VI", and pronounced as two syllables.


    So sorry for not using VI but as I type vi into my shell I am greeted with
    ~ VIM - Vi IMproved
    ~
    ~ version 7.0.235
    ~ by Bram Moolenaar et al.
    ~ Vim is open source and freely distributable

    Now this could be debian just doing its own thing as they are known to do...
  • Dr. Kaborkian 2008-07-03 13:57
    Wait... you mean there aren't droves of godlike uberprogrammers willing to lick the brown cream out of a complete dork's anus just to get a badly paid job in an office building litterally (excuse the pun) located right next to a garbage dump? Great. Why didn't you tell me before I wasted my precious time holding dozens of interviews? That's one strike against each of you - for every applicant, that is. I'll even call all of your respective bosses and have you replaced with diligent Elbonian work slaves before you can count to (int) true. Bwahahaha!
  • Gup20 2008-07-03 14:39
    As to the hypothetical question,

    The interviewer was trying to see if you could "think outside the box"... trying to see if you could come up with creative, unusual, unorthodox, and multiple methods of resolving a problem.

    What you needed to do is turn hypothetical questions against the hypothetical user. There is a proverb that says "answer a fool according to his folly"... meaning if that interviewer is asking you to solve an impossible hypothetical situation, why can't you solve it with an impossible hypothetical answer?

    "your customer calls and wants it fixed now, and wants you there now in person, but the customer wont' be there until tomorrow... what do you?"
    You just need to ask more hypothetically impossible questions than the interviewer.... such as "Do I have a time machine at my disposal?" or "have I mastered transporter technology by this point?" You could also mention that when you installed the servers at their location you convinced them to upgrade to that new backup system and you have their offsite tapes from this morning's pickup sitting on your desk.

    Or... when he says you are stuck in traffic, tell him you have a police scanner and would have avoided the accident site by finding an alternate route on your in-car GPS. You don't need to actually have these items because - remember - this is all hypothetical. Additionally you hypothetically have a cousin who works as a helicopter pilot giving tours of the city. He owes you a favor and said if you ever needed to get out of a Jam he would drop what he was doing to be there for you.
  • Arksyne 2008-07-03 14:50
    If you kept your finger in page 53, it isn't so bad when the ghost eats you.
  • Carlos 2008-07-03 15:04
    That line of questioning isn't unusual. Interviewer is likely looking for.

    1) When do you let your management know there night be an issue.
    2) Teamwork - How long it takes you to try and solve the problem without your own resources. When do you starting thinking of others in a team.

    "As a last resort I contact someone else in our team directly who may be able to avoid the tanker incident."

    If they insist on going further then you need to park up and get on public transport.

    3) Smartass answer = fail.
  • nehalp100 2008-07-03 15:10
    Call the police because you just broke the law! Damn, I just did it as well.
  • nehalp100 2008-07-03 15:12
    Commit suicide, can't fire me now!
  • sorrow 2008-07-03 15:16
    Theres still a few steps you can take without getting too absurd

    Walk past the tanker and hail a cab. No cabs
    Public transport. No public transport.
    Call a limo. No limos.
    Purchase bicycle from shop close by. No shops.
    Call in favor from friend to pick you up. No friends.
    Wife. Unavailable.
    Customers. No customers
    Hitchike. No takers.

    Theres 8 more answers. Need more?
  • pegr 2008-07-03 15:19
    All you guys missed it.

    Everyone is so focused on fixing the problem, they missed what the problem is. The problem is NOT the failed hardware/software, the problem is the upset client. Work on fixing the upset client, then worry about the technical failure.
  • Gup20 2008-07-03 16:04
    pegr:
    All you guys missed it.

    Everyone is so focused on fixing the problem, they missed what the problem is. The problem is NOT the failed hardware/software, the problem is the upset client. Work on fixing the upset client, then worry about the technical failure.


    But the "problem" isn't the hypothetical customer at all... the "problem" is the satisfaction of the interviewer.

    Your best shot is to answer in generalized terms that make you look good, but don't leave the interviewer with a foot in the door to modify the scenario.

    For example, say "after I've assured the customer that we have people working on the problem, and that I've sufficiently escalated the issue to the proper authorities, and calmed the customer down, I would sell them one of our backup solutions to insure this problem doesn't re-occur".

    By talking in generalizations, you can 'cover every scenario' much faster and more efficiently. Instead of say I would hail a cab, hop on a bus, hitchhike, etc... you could simply say "I would find alternate transportation along an alternate route". If all other "alternate transport" is unavailable, then your customer has bigger things to worry about for themselves and their business than the technical issue you are trying to solve. But notice your problem resolution process would remain unchanged. I don't think the interviewer would expect you to solve a city-wide transportation crisis in order to visit your customer's site. But if he did... Assure the city you have people working on it, and that you have escalated the problem to the proper authorities.... once the people have calmed down.... lay out your plans for upgrading the transportation infrastructure of the city to make sure this doesn't happen again....

  • TInkerghost 2008-07-03 17:16
    As to the hypothetical question,

    The interviewer was trying to see if you could "think outside the box"... trying to see if you could come up with creative, unusual, unorthodox, and multiple methods of resolving a problem

    This is the ideal time for the Vodka Solution.
    Int: Your client is shouting that you have to fix the server today even if the part isn't available until tomorrow.
    Me: I tell the customer I have a temporary solution & go buy a fifth of Vodka. I make him drink until he starts babbling about wanting pig fat. At this point he's too drunk to be a bother, & tomorrow he'll be too hung over to be loud & obnoxious. 2 days of win for about $5, well worth the expense.

  • Michael Llaneza 2008-07-03 22:22
    sakasune:
    In that first interview I would have said "okay, if I'm stuck in traffic then I'll sprout wings and fly to the customer." Then the interviewer would probably reply, "what if you got sucked into a jet engine while flying to the customer?"


    "If I got sucked into a jet engine then the client isn't my problem anymore anyway."
  • Zemm 2008-07-03 23:53
    java.lang.Chris;:
    That's easy, the interviewers are Emacs weenies. No self respecting user of the one true editor calls it "Vi" - it's "VI", and pronounced as two syllables.


    "Vee Eye"? It's "vi" which is short for "visual" so it should rhyme with the first part of "Linux"! (Where the "i" is somewhere between a "ee" sound and a short "i" sound)
  • Mario Butter 2008-07-04 07:37
    I'm pretty sure I interviewed at that first company recently...
  • AnonJr 2008-07-04 11:09
    Anon:
    I don't see anything wrong with the hypothetical question. The point is to see if you can come up with novel solutions if they regular solutions fail and to see if you'll get flustered when you keep hitting road blocks. The key for the interviewee is to exit this game gracefully without looking like a dick.
    I had a similar experience interviewing with at my current job where the interviewer was asking what to do if a user doesn't like an application. We stopped after getting to the point where the user just doesn't want to use a computer at all.


    Don't they call this "Cognitive Dissonance"?
  • asdf 2008-07-04 14:02
    The answer could have been to Remote Desktop in.
    Perhaps he was trying to determine if you had the knowledge of the existence of such software, perhaps he just figured it out.
  • adamb 2008-07-04 17:57
    TRWTF is the lack of common courtesy shown by the job interviewer. If someone comes in good faith to go through the interview process, then it's really dick to so overtly be an ass.

    Plus, you never know, at some point you might have to crawl back to the person you interviewed even if they weren't the ideal candidate, like what happened here.
  • wcw 2008-07-05 02:18
    Pronunciation is what it is, you hack.

    Linux is pronounced the way it is because of the acculturated courtesy of the hackers around the thing (in the real world, in English, Linus is pronounced with a long 'I', and so would be Linux). Bit it ain't, ans that's just how it is. Vi is pronounced 'Vee Aye' and has been since I was a teenager in the 1980s breaking into local computer systems for fun (in the Bay Area, even in the '80s, that was a nice target base). Bill Joy wrote vi at Cal in the '70s, so I am pretty close to this, though I didn't matriculate until the late '80s, and majored in pure math, thanks.

    As for the bigot who thinks vi is useless, the last 'code' I wrote (an R script; some of use have real work to do), I used vi. It works fine, and to this day it's installed everywhere. So is ed, of course, but ed is really only good for the ed rant.
  • Maria 2008-07-06 13:31
    operagost:
    Hypothetical scenarios have been outlawed. Now what do you do?


    That would shut him up.
  • Simon 2008-07-06 15:30
    lol. Funny you mention that, for the second story I posted to WTF (with that story) that was the answer.

    Those saying this wasn't a BS question. Sorry but it was. The post is a bit shorter then the actual interview went on.

    The options of canceling customers contract (not allowed as I wasn't important enough), walking to customer (Not allowed it was too far) and also even going back and saying I would drive there the day before and sleep there (also not allowed).

    It was clear the interviewer was looking for one answer which they had already picked out, or was trying to see how long they would play their game.
  • Simon 2008-07-06 15:44
    Sure, the interviewer was a dickhead but he might have also been right.


    It was a stupid interview. I've done loads of interviews and never had a situation like that before. Not sure I would of used the term clueless dickhead, just expecting a reality I couldn't give him.

    And yes I have messed up interviews horribly before if it makes you feel any better. :)

    - Asked "Where do you see yourself in 5 years time" (in relation to company) I answered "Not sure, maybe have a car, house, settle down, not sure I am ready for children at that point.

    - Sat through a 2 hour interview with HR + people working with on SOA applications which was going great. Could answer all the technical questions. Only in the last 2 minutes do they point out it is .NET which I don't know (Java person). Appears the Job agency threw stuff onto my CV at that time.

    - Giving an interviewer an ancient CV I never bothered to update correctly. When noted that I liked go-kart racing (I did at the time) I mentioned the place where I used to go. Not realizing the company had closed down years ago. Then arguing with the interviewer when he pointed it out. :)

    - Asked what the definition of a Team was I replied "If one dies, we all die together" (I had been watching Titanic the night before and my mind had gone blank :).
  • Simon 2008-07-06 15:56
    Because I am an eagle about to eat it?
  • Joel Button 2008-07-07 02:18
    Next time one of you guys get one of those hypothetical question strings, just get out your D&D materials. Also, bring a camera- I want to see the look on the guy's face.
  • JimM 2008-07-07 06:44
    wcw:
    Linux is pronounced the way it is because of the acculturated courtesy of the hackers around the thing (in the real world, in English, Linus is pronounced with a long 'I', and so would be Linux).

    And you would be so very nearly right if Linus Torvalds was English or American, but in the real world he's Finnish. Finland is (last time I checked) still part of the real world (which does stretch beyond the border of America, you know), and as the term 'Linux' was coined by the Finnish, I think they probably get last word on how it is pronounced. Just because you shout the loudest doesn't make you right, you know...
  • jspenguin 2008-07-07 14:15
    The application manager on the Nokia 770, N800, and N810 has a special mode called "Red pill mode" which allows you to browse all categories, not just the "standard" ones.

    If you create a new catalog (their name for a repository) with the url "matrix", then hit cancel, it pops up the following dialog:




    (yes, the images are big. The N800 has a crazy high resolution for such a small tablet.)
  • Magnus Persson 2008-07-08 14:18
    Finland is (last time I checked) still part of the real world (which does stretch beyond the border of America, you know), and as the term 'Linux' was coined by the Finnish, I think they probably get last word on how it is pronounced.


    Actually, you're not fully right either. Linux, pronounced in Finnish, would use an i similar to the one in "bin". However, Linus belongs to the Swedish-speaking minority of the Finnish people, and in Swedish, Linux has an i pronounced as "ee" in "feel".
  • OBloodyhell 2008-07-11 13:06
    java.lang.Chris;:

    That's easy, the interviewers are Emacs weenies. No self respecting user of the one true editor calls it "Vi" - it's "VI", and pronounced as two syllables.


    "One True Editor"?

    You mean TECO?

    Real programmers like challenges, and what greater challenge is there than to type your name into your text editor and figure out what it does?

    If a command sequence isn't sufficiently terse as to be indistinguishable from line noise, you're wasting valuable coding time typing weenie-preserving froofroos...

    :oP
  • Peter H. Coffin 2008-07-20 12:15
    snoofle:
    I've had to deal with those interviewers that keep asking you what to do when everything you try/suggest will fail. I usually take it 4 or 5 levels and then just reply: if this company/customer is that screwed up, then I'm/you're better off just drawing the line and saying "no".


    I've gone down that route too. It's been formalized to "Do I have authority to fire this customer?" and if not "Customer on hold, call my boss, warm-transfer the call. Boss will tell me how to handle it."
  • Jeff 2008-08-01 07:42
    It probably would have helped if you had done more requirements gathering. The intervier might have been looking for something like "I would have performed technical activities X, Y, and Z", and it doesn't help if you answer "Well, I would fix it!" Of course, a customer will never say, I think you need to ssh in and kill the running process, then download the newest software from a yum server. They are more likely to say "It's broken. I need you to fix it."

    http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/adventures-of-isabel/

    Also sales literature can be interesting on this point. E.g.

    http://futrell-www.tamu.edu/ABC_Outlines_Chapter_11.html

    G. Use direct denial tactfully.

    1. Incomplete or incorrect objections should be acknowledged from the prospect’s viewpoint, and then answered with complete and correct facts.

    2. Tact is critical.

    3. Do not say, “You’re wrong.” It closes the prospect’s mind. Instead try, “You know, you’re right to be concerned about this. Let me explain.”
  • chenry 2008-08-14 12:24
    Tom_fan_63:
    spinn:
    The solution was to take the blue pill and exit the Matrix, I suppose.

    The blue pill is sold out, now what do you do?


    probably do my best impression of Michael Douglas in "Falling Down".
  • Eaton 2008-08-29 00:01
    I thank my lucky stars I didn't get hired at such a place.
  • Kyle 2008-10-11 14:06
    operagost:
    Hypothetical scenarios have been outlawed. Now what do you do?


    Celebrate. You bring the meat and veggies, I'll supply the grill and liquor.
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  • kyle 2008-12-17 21:46
    The RED pill takes you out of the Matrix.
  • Jon 2008-12-20 18:37
    You weren't tempted to ask what the problem with the server was?
  • noone 2009-01-10 20:20
    I think you are right - but I still think skype or a remote connection would be better answers. Maybe they weren't invented at the time
  • Larry Ellis 2009-01-26 01:34
    The correct resolution to the hypothetical scenario is to engage the customer's attention while en route, no matter the delay. Start by asking what he's wearing and take it from there. A good employee will do whatever it takes to keep that customer... satisfied.
  • nitsedy 2009-04-04 17:57
    "Take the red pill and see how far the rabbit hole goes!"

    "It doesn't go anywhere."

    "Ah, well, then the problem is solved. What's your next question?"
  • Willhelm 2009-04-27 10:06
    “you have an irate customer on the phone. He says the server is not working correctly. He is demanding that an engineer goes on site to fix it. So what do you do?”

    I put on my wizard hat and robe.
  • really? 2009-06-07 08:32
    Hypothetical questions that stay somewhere within the realm of sanity = OK.

    Hypothetical questions that fly off the road of sanity almost immediately = NOT OK, pointless, and insulting to anyone with working gray matter.

    Testing ability is the real goal, not checking to see if someone is willing to go thru a journey of Adventures in Stupidity.

  • really? 2009-06-07 08:40
    that's right after you clean all the brown matter off your face, right
  • really? 2009-06-07 08:49
    Anon:
    Binks:
    Anon:
    I don't see anything wrong with the hypothetical question. The point is to see if you can come up with novel solutions


    Alright, but your novel solution fails because of novel problem. What do you do now?

    Man...I've had DM's like that...no matter what you do, it will fail unless you follow the perfect path ordained by the DM. Looks like in this case there was no perfect path though...


    You're missing the point. It's not about finding a solution, there is no solution and there is no perfect path. It's about dealing with unforeseen problems and repeated frustrating roadblocks. If you can deal with it graciously, then I don't want you in front of a customer.


    Great, stop being such a cheap bas&%rd -- hire engineers to deal with technical issues and customer support people to deal with the customers -- stop expecting the engineer to do both. As we all learned from Bob Slidell in Office Space, the engineers are not good with customers.
  • Joseph Grossi 2009-10-05 19:44
    Take the peach back and inform store of fauty peach.
  • Ishidan 2009-10-11 17:33
    I just found this blog today.
    So...what was so hypothetical about that first question? Or am I the only person that has actually had that situation, tried every angle, then gotten screamed at by the manager for, in order: 1. Angering the client 2. Failing to fulfill client expectations 3. Trying to ring the manager on his day off 4. Jumping the chain of command by calling somebody other than the manager and 5. Being the guy whose site ran into trouble.
  • Matt 2010-07-21 16:29
    It was probably a bad question that was too open ended. I've had the same experience with asking a question about how to deal with an impossible schedule. I get candidates pledging to work progressively more and more overtime. I try to stress that on-time completion is impossible, but candidates refuse to give up on fixing the schedule.

    In the end I'm concerned with how they communicate schedule slippage to the stakeholders. The question is really simple as soon as you accept that trying to succeed is impossible and that you are being assessed on how you handle failure. Maybe this was that same kind of question? The interviewer probably should have made the parameters of the question clearer.
  • Anon 2011-01-05 20:32
    Wouldn't that be the red pill?
  • interviewer 2011-03-29 02:10
    Anon, the problem is with the cocky response at the end "I'll ring you, you appear to have the answer"...I wouldn't dare hire someone with that 'smart' attitude. keep solving roadblocks still you're stopped.
  • steve 2013-02-15 11:53
    Wow. Simon spent a REALLY LONG TIME digging himself into that hole, and somehow avoiding saying anything that sounded remotely like SSH, VNC, or RDP.

    2nd WTF... same goes for the first 150+ comments.
  • Bjorg 2013-02-25 21:18
    The real WTF in the first story is committing to spending a ton of resources to go on-site to fix a problem without first verifying that there *is* a problem. The interviewee completely failed, and then didn't even get the point of the exercise.
  • John 2013-07-19 17:32
    For hypothetical guy - you obviously put this luser on hold and after few hours advises him to execute rm -rf /* on the server. Or jump on it until it's fixed.