• KattMan (cs)

    Who hasn't had the urge to do this when they knew they were right?

    Who has been wrong when they thought they were right?

    I fell into both categories in my past. These days I will disagree with an interviewer if I believe he is incorrect but I will not argue or "teach" them. Sometimes they just want to see how you react to incorrect information when you are going to be a lead. The handling of these things is important.

  • CrazyTastey (unregistered)

    Maybe he should have faked stomach cramps and excused himself. Then he would have a chance to call a friend while in the restroom and have them Google "db2" for him.

  • RobertB (cs)

    During a mid-'90s interview with a major Airline (in the Southwest), I was asked if I was familar with COM. I blinked, and drew on my hardware knowledge to find something to say about serial ports.

    It turned out they weren't talking about COM1 through COM4 (and the possibilities for IRQ conflicts when addressing COM ports with higher numbers). They were talking about using the Common Object Module for program interaction.

    Needless to say, I didn't get the job...

  • nobody (unregistered)

    I did have one interviewer ask me about synchronization objects for multithreading. He insisted critical sections were used between processes and mutexes within a process. It is the other way around; I was right. I didn't get the job, and I don't know if he blindly went around using more expensive mutexes when a critical section would do (a critical section will simply not work between processes, so he couldn't do it the other way) or if there was some other reason he never called back.

  • Chris (unregistered) in reply to RobertB
    Comment held for moderation.
  • AndrewB (unregistered)

    Indeed, when you disagree with the interviewer, it's common sense to shut up and let the disagreement remain untouched, unless they press you on the subject, which has never happened to me. During the interview for my last job (which I recently quit) we got to the topic of search engine optimization, and the difference between "old style" search engines such as Lycos and Alta Vista, and "new" search engines like Google. He "corrected" me, saying that Google is one of the oldest search engines and has been around for a very long time.

    Really, what benefit is there in correcting your interviewer? I can't think of any.

  • H3SO5 (cs)

    If I were the interviewer I would already have gone mad when the interviewed guy started to "school" me.

  • Jeff Lewis (unregistered)

    Don't be afraid to say "I don't know."

    I've asked people, "What is polymorphism?" And had them give me the Latin derivation of the word. Interesting, perhaps, bu t not helpful.

  • themagni (cs)

    During my school days, I got an interview for a co-op job (basically a 4-month paid internship.)

    I was doing so poorly at the interview that the interviewer stopped the interview and started giving me tips on how to do an interview.

    I actually did end up with that job, but they were disappointed that I wasn't producing as much as the guy I was replacing (who had just finished off a 1-year workterm). Morale was low.

  • KattMan (cs) in reply to Jeff Lewis
    Jeff Lewis:
    Don't be afraid to say "I don't know."

    I've asked people, "What is polymorphism?" And had them give me the Latin derivation of the word. Interesting, perhaps, bu t not helpful.

    Polymorphism? I'll show you polymorphism...

    (grabs parrot, sticks it in a blender and hits puree)

    There, Poly morphed into soup.

  • jisakujien (cs)

    At least you didn't have a school teacher send a letter home because you would not accept that a mile was shorter than a kilometer.

  • themagni (cs) in reply to Jeff Lewis
    Jeff Lewis:
    Don't be afraid to say "I don't know."

    Or "I don't know ... yet."

    I got a "Good. If you had said yes, I would have asked you to do it. You'd be surprised how many people say, 'yes' when they really don't know."

  • snoofle (cs) in reply to KattMan

    Over the years, I've had a few interviews with folks who would ask a question, and then tell me my answer was wrong. That's usually a pretty good sign that:

    a) the person doesn't understand the subject matter (assuming YOU know what you are talking about) b) the person doesn't want to hear alternatives to their own thoughts/perspective c) the person expects you to think as they do, and not on your own d) if you work with/for them, you will end up being a yes-man or quitting

    Personally, if I ask an employee of mine/interviewee a question, and they give me the wrong answer, I will rarely say anything like "that's wrong". Instead, I'll ask them to explain how their answer handles <some situation that clearly isn't handled by their solution>, and then listen to them trip up when trying to explain it. The person invariably realizes their mistake, and I lead the conversation along the lines of: so how would you change your solution to fix ...?"

    It engages the person in the solution, they realize they were wrong without having been told as much, and they feel that because I agreed with the new solution that THEY came up with, that they are part-owner of the new solution, and perhaps most importantly, that their boss listened to them.

    Of course, I don't get my jollies from making people feel inferior...

  • snoofle (cs) in reply to jisakujien
    jisakujien:
    At least you didn't have a school teacher send a letter home because you would not accept that a mile was shorter than a kilometer.
    Wait - "m-i-l-e" vs "k-i-l-o-m-e-t-e-r" --- it IS shorter by 5 letters, you FOOL!

    [edit]

    Ahem, let me rephrase...

    So how do you explain the character-count in "mile" being only 4 letters verses the 9 in "kilometer"?

  • akatherder (cs)

    I flew from Michigan to RTP for an interview. The interviewer had some creative-thinking/problem-solving questions (which I think is a good idea). He asks "How many people are in the belt on a given morning?" I've heard of certain roadways called "beltways" before but being from out of town, I think it's reasonable to ask him what "the belt" is.

    He immediately starts lecturing me. I don't remember his exact words, but something like: "What kind of a stupid question is that!? First of all you should know what I'm talking about. Second of all, it could be any belt and the answer would be the same. Thirdly..."

    I said "Ok, the belt you're wearing has one person in it. One pompous jackass who I would never work for. Thanks for the free flight and hotel room."

    My head hunter called me and asked how it went. I told him I didn't want to work for them. He sounded disappointed and told me they offered the job. I told him what happened and explained that he must have mixed me up with another candidate. He checked and he was convinced it was me. I've heard of some weird interview styles, but I don't think anyone considers losing your temper and harassing the hiring manager to EVER be a good thing.

  • CrazyTastey (unregistered) in reply to snoofle
    snoofle:
    Of course, I don't get my jollies from making people feel inferior...

    What!? You don't get your jollies from making people feel inferior!?

    Your college must not have screened their CS students. :P

  • snoofle (cs) in reply to akatherder
    akatherder:
    I flew from Michigan to RTP for an interview. The interviewer had some creative-thinking/problem-solving questions (which I think is a good idea). He asks "How many people are in the belt on a given morning?" I've heard of certain roadways called "beltways" before but being from out of town, I think it's reasonable to ask him what "the belt" is.

    He immediately starts lecturing me. I don't remember his exact words, but something like: "What kind of a stupid question is that!? First of all you should know what I'm talking about. Second of all, it could be any belt and the answer would be the same. Thirdly..."

    I said "Ok, the belt you're wearing has one person in it. One pompous jackass who I would never work for. Thanks for the free flight and hotel room."

    My head hunter called me and asked how it went. I told him I didn't want to work for them. He sounded disappointed and told me they offered the job. I told him what happened and explained that he must have mixed me up with another candidate. He checked and he was convinced it was me. I've heard of some weird interview styles, but I don't think anyone considers losing your temper and harassing the hiring manager to EVER be a good thing.

    Given the apparent tone of the interviewer's lecture, if you lost your temper, it certainly seems justified.

    Personally, I like your response - the person deserved it.

    Maybe the person was testing to see how you might react to unreasonable users (been there), and putting him in his place was exactly what he was looking for.

  • Furry (unregistered)

    I had an interview for an IT consulting firm where I was asked to complete a computerized test.

    They needed a VB5 programmer. I thought, hey, I've been doing VB since, well, before VB (GW-Basic, QuickBasic, VB for DOS, VB3, VB4 - 16 and 32 bit). I started using classes within VB since it's inclusion.

    According to this test, VB (the language) is but a minor, insignificant portion of, uhh, VB. It seems there was one thing the consulting firm needed, Crystal Reports developers.

    I'll digress here and say that, back then, I really, really truly, hated Crystal within VB!

    And this firm captured the same sense of disgust within me as I simply walked out of the room and out the door from this "interview".

  • snoofle (cs) in reply to CrazyTastey
    CrazyTastey:
    snoofle:
    Of course, I don't get my jollies from making people feel inferior...

    What!? You don't get your jollies from making people feel inferior!?

    Your college must not have screened their CS students. :P

    I went to State U of New York at Albany in the early 1980's. At the time, the "screening" process was "what was your previous major?", and "can you pay the tuition".

    It turned out to be a much more difficult school than the admissions process led me to believe, but everything was still "theory of ..." as opposed to "doing ..."

  • Otto (unregistered)

    Lots of strange people on here.

    We're adults, having conversations. Somebody asks you a question and you're not sure what it is, talk to him about it. Ask him what he means. If he blows up or won't accept that, he's useless. Nobody is perfect and any interviewer who can't accept some questions for clarification is not doing his job.

    If the guy knows what he's asking about than any attempt to bullshit around his question will be detected and you'll look like someone who would rather sound right than be right.

  • akatherder (cs) in reply to AndrewB
    AndrewB:
    Really, what benefit is there in correcting your interviewer? I can't think of any.

    A lot of programmers are socially inept and the abilities to correct someone else and be corrected yourself are not as common as you might think.

    If the interviewer says "Linux only runs on Macs." You can respond by agreeing with him and looking like an idiot. You can disagree and be a jerk about it (i.e. Nick Burns). Or you can disagree and share your knowledge.

    Same thing the other way. If someone tells you "You're wrong" most people get very defensive. You need to discuss the issue and invite input or explain why you think you are correct. You can't fold like a card house and you can't defend something that is wrong.

  • nobody (unregistered) in reply to KattMan
    KattMan:
    Jeff Lewis:
    Don't be afraid to say "I don't know."

    I've asked people, "What is polymorphism?" And had them give me the Latin derivation of the word. Interesting, perhaps, bu t not helpful.

    Polymorphism? I'll show you polymorphism...

    (grabs parrot, sticks it in a blender and hits puree)

    There, Poly morphed into soup.

    That parrot has passed on. It has ceased to be. It is an ex-parrot.

  • diaphanein (unregistered)

    When I interview candidates, one of my stated goals is to get the candidate to admit they don't know something. If I detect bullshit or outright lies, its all over. I want someone that knows their limitations and isn't afraid to own up to them. Although, I also like to hear how the candidate would rectify not knowing the answer (i.e. how they would go about learning the answer to the question). Last thing I need is an arrogant know-it-all that doesn't.

  • RonaldRoss (unregistered)

    the best is when the interviewer asks you a logic puzzle that you already know the answer to.

  • KattMan (cs) in reply to nobody
    nobody:
    KattMan:
    Jeff Lewis:
    Don't be afraid to say "I don't know."

    I've asked people, "What is polymorphism?" And had them give me the Latin derivation of the word. Interesting, perhaps, bu t not helpful.

    Polymorphism? I'll show you polymorphism...

    (grabs parrot, sticks it in a blender and hits puree)

    There, Poly morphed into soup.

    That parrot has passed on. It has ceased to be. It is an ex-parrot.

    Ahh, but it is still a parrot. I know it isn't a perfect example since you can not get the original form back out, but all the different pieces and parts are there.

    Disclaimer: To all those offended, I whole-heartedly regret my display of anti-parrotism. I was not thinking during a contest of humor and would like to call a news conference so that I may personally apologize to all parrots out there. In the future I will instead use frogs for my blender jokes.

  • Will (unregistered) in reply to jisakujien
    jisakujien:
    At least you didn't have a school teacher send a letter home because you would not accept that a mile was shorter than a kilometer.

    I moved to a new city in fifth grade, and sometime during the first few weeks of school I made the mistake of correcting my new teacher when she explained that 2 was not a prime number "because it is even." I got some serious glares that day...

  • Matt B. (unregistered)

    I once had an interview for a tech support job in a school. My friend informed me of the job because he worked there. Well, the interview starting with the Tech Director insulting and down playing two of my favorite things: Macs and Diesel engines. I was looking for a Mac tech support job, but he was pretty clear that he didn't think Macs were good in the "real world." Then he compared Macs to diesel engines, as they are both not as popular. Well, I had just bought a diesel engine. Looking back, I really should have went off on a rant on him, as there was no way I was going to take the job (besides those to things, the guy was pompous and the pay was half as much as I was making now- I'm glad I stayed as I got a raise and a promotion).

  • Matt (unregistered)

    I use the concept of the "Bullshit Question". It's a question where there is no answer, in fact I may make an acronym up on the spot and ask them if they know what it is. If the interviewee says "I don't know" then they have answered correctly. Any attempt to bullshit and it's a massive black mark against them - though not irredeemable.

  • Harsh (cs)

    Dan O. sounds like an idiot

  • XML Hater (unregistered) in reply to Otto
    Otto:
    Lots of strange people on here.

    I'm not really strange, I just look that way... :-)

  • Devi (cs)

    When I was 17 I worked as a waiter in the bar of a very expensive hotel in central England. One evening I was serving a table full of business people and one of them asked me a question about a dessert. I'm not entirley sure what possessed me to do what I did next, which was to create an entire recipe out of whole cloth and explain it to him. It wasn't until next day that I was told that the group included the hotel's manager, head chef and the managers of a few other hotels. I was so fired.

    I have to admit that I would argue if someone said something I thought I was wrong, but I usually start by asking them if I'm right about the words that they're using. "Doesn't DB2 mean DBaseII?" is much better than "DB2, but it iz teh suxzor!?!". I don't think there's anything really wrong with having a discussion about these things in interviews, you just need to keep an open mind to the fact that you might be wrong or might have misunderstood.

    Maybe it's because I always tend to be interviewed by my potential leads, but I don't think I'd like to work for a boss who thinks that me knowing more about a particular thing than them is a bad thing...

  • el jaybird (unregistered)

    I remember a few times I contradicted a prof when it came to some fact about the history of DOS or the 80x86 CPU architecture or something. For some reason I was particularly well versed in this subject (not any more, as you can see). He insisted, in front of the class, that I must be mistaken, and made me look like a fool (he has a little bit of a vicious sarcastic streak which made his class entertaining -- so long as you were not the butt of his jokes!).

    Not willing to let myself be schooled, I checked into my sources, and confirmed that I was right. I sent him an email to that end, and the next day in class he publicly apologized to me in front of the class.

    A few A+'s in his class and a summer job recommendation later, he remains one of my favourite profs.

    When I was interviewing for my current job, I was asked what I thought about round-trip code generation from a UML modelling tool such as Rational Rose. I don't think much of it, and I told them so, along with my reasons why. I was later told that they hired me largely based on my response to this question, since I had demonstrated an ability to have realistic expectations of tools and process, and was able to tactfully disagree with (what I thought was) the perspective being offered by the manager, rather than just BS my way through the "correct" answer.

    Thus ends life in the sanitarium.

  • el jaybird (unregistered) in reply to Matt
    Matt:
    I use the concept of the "Bullshit Question". It's a question where there is no answer, in fact I may make an acronym up on the spot and ask them if they know what it is. If the interviewee says "I don't know" then they have answered correctly. Any attempt to bullshit and it's a massive black mark against them - though not irredeemable.

    I was so busted in a final exam by a prof that did this. He offered a page of reference formulas for his statistics and probability class. One question I came to, I was completely stumped, but I thought I recognized one of the tables he provided. Hoping for partial marks, I started an elaborate, multi-step iterative approach using the formulas given...

    I was feeling OK until all my friends started laughing about the BS formulas on the reference sheet...

    The prof got the last laugh, of course. muhahaha.

  • Satanicpuppy (cs) in reply to el jaybird

    It's not always about the "correct" answer, but don't treat the interviewer like he's a moron. I've had interviews before where the interviewer hated a certain application, and asked me what I thought about it, as a way of sounding me out on my views in general.

    At the same time, I've had more than a few interviews with people who are wedded to a particular solution, which you may think is stupid. Now, if you don't want the job, tell them their dream solution is a piece of crap, but if you do want the job, it pays to treat it respectfully.

  • G Money (unregistered) in reply to Jeff Lewis
    Jeff Lewis:
    Don't be afraid to say "I don't know."

    I've asked people, "What is polymorphism?" And had them give me the Latin derivation of the word. Interesting, perhaps, bu t not helpful.

    I think this is the mark of a junior (read: IROC). In school, on a test, you're told to "just write something; you might get partial marks". Juniors approach job interviews like an academic test. Experience teaches you when to say "I don't know".

    Also, when you're a Junior, interviewing more a process of asking for a job. When you're more experienced, interviewing is more a process of determining whether you can reach a mutally acceptable arrangement with the employing organization

  • G Money (unregistered) in reply to Jeff Lewis
    Jeff Lewis:
    Don't be afraid to say "I don't know."

    I've asked people, "What is polymorphism?" And had them give me the Latin derivation of the word. Interesting, perhaps, bu t not helpful.

    I think this is the mark of a junior (read: IROC). In school, on a test, you're told to "just write something; you might get partial marks". Juniors approach job interviews like an academic test. Experience teaches you when to say "I don't know".

    Also, when you're a Junior, interviewing more a process of asking for a job. When you're more experienced, interviewing is more a process of determining whether you can reach a mutally acceptable arrangement with the employing organization

  • James Schend (unregistered)

    BSing is Ok if you explain that you're making an educated guess.

    For instance, I was doing a phone screening with Google and the interviewer asked me (Forgive me if I get this wrong, I'm going from memory) what a .eml file was and what limitation it had. Forgetting for the moment that this question was utterly irrelevant to what I was interviewing for, and that it could be easily found on Google in like 10 seconds, I told her that I was unfamiliar with that file format, and asked for a hint. She told me it has to do with email, so I replied that while I'm familiar with most email clients, I've only done administration on Lotus Notes, but I could make an educated guess: the file format is a database of Outlook email, and the limitation is either a 2GB or 4GB filesize. Turns out I got it right. Of course I didn't get the job.

    BTW: Lotus Notes? The reason I was interviewing. Never again will I work anywhere that uses that foul excretion of an email client. Just thinking about Lotus Notes makes the rage swell.

  • Fishbat (unregistered) in reply to akatherder

    I said "Ok, the belt you're wearing has one person in it. One pompous jackass who I would never work for. Thanks for the free flight and hotel room."

    I bet you didn't -- you thought of that on the plane going home, you actually said "go fuck yourself".

    Go on, admit it.

  • Welbog (cs) in reply to Jeff Lewis
    Jeff Lewis:
    Don't be afraid to say "I don't know."

    I've asked people, "What is polymorphism?" And had them give me the Latin derivation of the word. Interesting, perhaps, bu t not helpful.

    Polymorphism is Greek, not Latin.

  • G Money (unregistered) in reply to Welbog
    Welbog:
    Jeff Lewis:
    Don't be afraid to say "I don't know."

    I've asked people, "What is polymorphism?" And had them give me the Latin derivation of the word. Interesting, perhaps, bu t not helpful.

    Polymorphism is Greek, not Latin.

    Yeah? Is that so? Well, get the hell out of my office anyway, know-it-all punk.

  • akatherder (cs) in reply to Fishbat
    Fishbat:
    > I said "Ok, the belt you're wearing has one person in it. > One pompous jackass who I would never work for. Thanks for > the free flight and hotel room."

    I bet you didn't -- you thought of that on the plane going home, you actually said "go fuck yourself".

    Go on, admit it.

    The belt comment was on the spot. He asked me about "the belt" so I thought of different belts. My limited mind could only scrape up a leather belt, a beltway, and car tires for some reason (I later realized it was steel belted radials).

    It's proper to thank them for their time and any accommodations. I was just lucky that it came off so sarcastic and rude after my previous comment.

    I prefer the bluntness of your answer more than what I actually said. I might as well have been a complete dick in kind since I didn't want that job.

  • snoofle (unregistered) in reply to RonaldRoss
    RonaldRoss:
    the best is when the interviewer asks you a logic puzzle that you already know the answer to.
    I had an interviewer ask me a logic puzzle to which I knew a better answer than him.

    When I told him my answer, he flippantly said I was wrong. I thought about it for a second, and reiterated by certainty. Then I drew it out for him - pictures and everything - and proved my solution to be correct.

    Then I told him I was withdrawing my application for the position. As I walked out, the other person in the room (whom I had erroneously assumed to be a developer) ran after me, introduced himself as the interviewers' boss, and asked why I was leaving. I explained that I didn't want to work for a know-it-all who wasn't, but had a closed mind to other folks' ideas. He tried and failed to convince me to stay.

  • Anonymous Coward (unregistered) in reply to Jeff Lewis
    Jeff Lewis:
    Don't be afraid to say "I don't know."

    I've asked people, "What is polymorphism?" And had them give me the Latin derivation of the word. Interesting, perhaps, bu t not helpful.

    A Latin derivation would be interesting indeed, since the origin is of course Greek.

  • emh (unregistered) in reply to snoofle

    Then I told him I was withdrawing my application for the position. As I walked out, the other person in the room (whom I had erroneously assumed to be a developer) ran after me, introduced himself as the interviewers' boss, and asked why I was leaving. I explained that I didn't want to work for a know-it-all who wasn't, but had a closed mind to other folks' ideas. He tried and failed to convince me to stay.

    lol who was closed minded again?

  • bonzombiekitty (cs) in reply to akatherder
    akatherder:

    I said "Ok, the belt you're wearing has one person in it. One pompous jackass who I would never work for. Thanks for the free flight and hotel room." [...] I've heard of some weird interview styles, but I don't think anyone considers losing your temper and harassing the hiring manager to EVER be a good thing.

    I personally would consider it a good thing. If I was a manager, I'd want people to tell me when I'm being a jackass. Provided, of course, that I'm actually being a jackass. I don't want a bunch of yes-men who are going to sit meekly and take undeserved crap I may (inadvertently) dish out to them. I can see myself making a situation like that just to see if the candidate has some backbone and will stand up to me.

  • Jojosh_the_Pi (cs) in reply to snoofle
    snoofle:
    Then I told him I was withdrawing my application for the position. As I walked out, the other person in the room (whom I had erroneously assumed to be a developer) ran after me, introduced himself as the interviewers' boss, and asked why I was leaving. I explained that I didn't want to work for a know-it-all who wasn't, but had a closed mind to other folks' ideas. He tried and failed to convince me to stay.

    Can I assume the interviewer would be your future boss? It seems the interviewer's boss had some grasp of your worth.

  • AGould (cs) in reply to el jaybird
    el jaybird:
    I was feeling OK until all my friends started laughing about the BS formulas on the reference sheet...

    The prof got the last laugh, of course. muhahaha.

    I'd call foul on that in that position - I'm paying for an education, not play "stump the student". If you want me to memorize the formulas, then don't allow a reference sheet. If you give me a formula sheet, I expect it to be correct.

    Students don't realize how much power they can have in a college, especially in channels. I've been given a free auditing/re-write of the exam because we could prove the prof had completely failed to teach the material (evidenced by the fact that over half the class failed - there was a lineup at the Dean's office that day).

  • snoofle (unregistered) in reply to emh
    emh:
    Then I told him I was withdrawing my application for the position. As I walked out, the other person in the room (whom I had erroneously assumed to be a developer) ran after me, introduced himself as the interviewers' boss, and asked why I was leaving. I explained that I didn't want to work for a know-it-all who wasn't, but had a closed mind to other folks' ideas. He tried and failed to convince me to stay.

    lol who was closed minded again?

    It wasn't that the interviewer was right and I was wrong, the question was what is the minimum number of times you could do something to determine the required answer. His answer was 3, mine was 2 - it just required some mathematically valid, yet out-of-the-box thinking.

    The interviewer's manager was a decent guy, but he wasn't the guy I'd have been working for, so I chose to politely withdraw.

  • snoofle (unregistered) in reply to Jojosh_the_Pi
    Jojosh_the_Pi:
    snoofle:
    Then I told him I was withdrawing my application for the position. As I walked out, the other person in the room (whom I had erroneously assumed to be a developer) ran after me, introduced himself as the interviewers' boss, and asked why I was leaving. I explained that I didn't want to work for a know-it-all who wasn't, but had a closed mind to other folks' ideas. He tried and failed to convince me to stay.

    Can I assume the interviewer would be your future boss? It seems the interviewer's boss had some grasp of your worth.

    You are correct - the interviewer would have been my boss - the guy I would have had to deal with daily. The other guy was a level above - and I would have only dealt with him on occasion. I actually would have considered working directly with the upper boss, but the place wasn't set up like that.

  • Saarus (cs) in reply to emh
    emh:
    Then I told him I was withdrawing my application for the position. As I walked out, the other person in the room (whom I had erroneously assumed to be a developer) ran after me, introduced himself as the interviewers' boss, and asked why I was leaving. I explained that I didn't want to work for a know-it-all who wasn't, but had a closed mind to other folks' ideas. He tried and failed to convince me to stay.

    lol who was closed minded again?

    It was probably best for everyone, you know. Supposing the person he schooled could very well have been his immediate supervisor-to-be, the first few weeks on the job would have been pretty... awkward.

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