• AP (unregistered)


  • Irving (unregistered) in reply to AP

    Sorry, the position of frist has already been filled.

  • Quite (unregistered)

    I don't think this comment's going to be a good fit for this forum.

  • ray10k (unregistered)

    While a WTF on its own, I really dislike how they presented that C snippet. I mean, sure. It accesses the 6th element, but in a really hard-to-read, roundabout way. I wouldn't be terribly surprised if that particular approach is a source of undefined behavior somewhere.

    Also, the company failed that interview by showing how un-professionally they communicate important information. Pretty sure Natasha dodged a bullet there.

  • strangeways (unregistered) in reply to ray10k

    It's not. What's presented here is entirely equivalent to a[5] = 1 (the standard says so), which is perfectly defined in this particular case.

  • (nodebb) in reply to ray10k

    No, absolutely not. In C, a[5] is syntactic sugar for, and exactly equivalent to, *(a+5), so the behaviour is well-defined.(1)

    On the other hand, because (pointer) addition is commutative, *(a+5) is equivalent to *(5+a) and *(5+a) is equivalent to 5[a], which is therefore a perfectly correct syntax for array indexing. It's also totally inadmissible in any code I'm reviewing.

    For multi-dimensional arrays, the "reverse" notation (5[a]) gets rapidly complicated and hard to work out, especially when you introduce a mixture of forward and reverse notations. Doing it for a two-dimensional array will get you a hard stare, escalating to the hot end of a GAU-8 for a second offence or for doing it to a higher-dimensioned array.

    (1) In C++, this isn't necessarily true. For an array of POD types or sane objects, it is, but for objects with operator[]() overrides, it isn't. a_insane[index] is equivalent to a_insane.operator[](index).

  • Brian (unregistered)
    “You’re really not a good fit for the position we’re hiring for,” he said, “but let’s go ahead and do this anyway.”

    In other words, "we're going to knowingly waste time and money on something completely pointless." Yup, sounds like a typical defense contractor to me.

  • Raj (unregistered)

    I had a nearly identical experience interviewing at AWS.

  • (nodebb)

    That is the point where I pop an invoice for my time in the post to them.

  • ThaumaTechnician (unregistered) in reply to gordonjcp

    Dang! You beat me to it.

    That and: it's like you know from their interview process that they value their staff, eh.

  • Brian Boorman (google)

    Q: What does it say about Natasha that she went along with this for a whole day and didn't speak up about what was going on at the first breakout interview?

    A: She doesn't value herself, her capabilities, or her time.

  • Craig (unregistered)

    I must have missed the part of this story that read "Gooooood niiiiight a-ding-ding-ding-ding-ding-ding" (Monty Python reference)

  • Quite (unregistered)

    I'm still in the dark as to why Irving hated Natasha right from the off. I was expecting some sort of example of egregious sexism in the workplace to be apparent, as in one of the interviewers saying something unguarded like: "Sorry, we have to interview you for show, but you'll actually never get past Irving, who refuses to employ women. Shame, because your skills are top-notch."

  • Billy Biro (unregistered) in reply to Brian Boorman

    Gotta say. I completely agree. If that we're me, I'd maybe let the first one or two irrelevant questions slide, anyone can have a bad interviewing day. By the third question, though, I'd be calling an abrupt halt to the entire proceedings and demanding answers of them as to why their questions are entirely unrelated to the position for which I'm applying. If they can't (or won't) provide a very good answer at this point, I'm bringing the interview to a swift close.

  • ray10k (unregistered) in reply to Quite

    I think he came into the interview assuming the wouldn't hire her, figured the entire thing was a waste of time, and she just happened to be a convenient target for the resulting annoyance.

  • Doofang DeLoshming (unregistered)

    He probably had all the interviews planned out, so he couldn't not do them, nevertheless he had plenty of other work to do elsewhere that he couldn't get to - because of these dang interviews. So the interviewee bears the brunt ...

  • Submitted this to Slashdot. Go upvote it!!! (unregistered)

    He asked a bunch of answerable question and he wanted her to say I don't know.

    Mass of the earth. Estemate? Sure. one gallon of water is 8 pounds. Assume earth is about 10 pounds per gallon. Get the radius, determine volume and use weight of water for an estimate of weight per cubic feet.

    So: One gallon is 0.133681 cubic feet. So one cubic foot of earth is about 60 pounds. Formula for speherical volume is : 4/3 pi r cubed

    Earths radius is 20,900,000,000 feet so the volume is: 3.8e31 cuft

    So the weight of earth is about: 3.8e31 * 60 = 2.3e33

    The actual answer: 1.3e25

    Wow, I was way off!

  • ssss (unregistered) in reply to ray10k

    Ya, the pointer arithmetic bothers me. I know it used to work but I don't know how it would work on 32 vs 64 bit machines and what about 32 bit compiles interpreted on 64 bit machines? I'm not saying it wouldn't work. I'm just saying that I'd research it before using the symbolism in code.

  • (nodebb)

    TRWTF is these interview "roundtables" with break-off one-on-one sessions. Like the process is some kind of EveryoneGetsDrunk user group convention.

  • siciac (unregistered) in reply to Brian Boorman

    A: She doesn't value herself, her capabilities, or her time.

    Yeah, yeah, you're all gangsta and would keep it real.

    She undervalued her time because of the sunk cost fallacy. It's an unconscious bias and it's often why people are irrationally patient.

    The other problem is that, socially, you can't just walk out, you have to excuse yourself. Most people don't come to an interview prepared to explain that they're going to walk out and stand everyone up. (Pro-tip: "this position is not a good fit for me" and "you get the rest of the day back!")

  • operagost (unregistered) in reply to Submitted this to Slashdot. Go upvote it!!!

    Earth's radius is 20.9 MILLION feet, not billion. So that gets us 2.29e24, which is far closer but still off by an order of magnitude.

  • Foo AKA Fooo (unregistered) in reply to ssss

    It's nothing to do with 32 vs 64 bit. C's been around a bit longer and runs even on 16 bit systems as well as some odder ones. Array indexing and pointer arithmetic has been around all the time and worked the same way.

    The only thing that may be slightly relevant here is if you have an index variable that's too narrow for the size and might overflow, like 32 bit on a 64 bit system, or 16 bit on a 32 bit one. But even then, there's no difference between a[i] and *(a + i).

  • guestguest (unregistered)

    My theory is that the project they were working on was shut down, so they have nothing to do. Everyone good on the project has been hoovered up by other teams. However, the slow HR system is finally getting around to giving them candidates for the canceled job, and they're just doing it to pad out their timesheets.

  • Carl Witthoft (google)

    But did they ask her the U2 - bridge problem? The Monte Hall 3 doors problem? The truth-teller and liar guards problem? Inquiring minds want to know!

  • Kashim (unregistered)

    Every time someone asks me one of those really stupid, "Let's see how you problem solve" questions like "Estimate the mass of the Earth" or "Estimate the number of people living in Chicago." I respond with, "I would Google it. It is a solved problem, and I know the information is widely available." If they keep going with crap like, "What if you didn't have access to reference material or Google?" Then the easy response is, "Then I'd be in a place where they don't provide me even the most basic tools I need to do my job. I'd quit and leave immediately."

    If they keep going with dumb questions instead of pressing, then I'll keep listing off the things I would Google, or the information I would need to solve the problem properly. Besides, if someone wants insight into how I solve problems, "Looking it up." is most commonly the answer anyway.

  • ZB (unregistered)

    "Monty Hall", Carl, not Monte Hall. You're getting confused with Monte Carlo.

  • Ducky (unregistered) in reply to Kashim

    Nothing wrong with "looking stuff up," as long as it's not "looking for the exact thing you're trying to do up."

    People disparage the "Full StackOverflow Developer" because they'd not know what to do if a question with the exact answer they're looking for isn't around.

    A better answer in this case would be to rattle off the list of information you'd look for. Starting with the exact answer, then rattling off the list of facts you'd need to determine what you wanted to figure out. This signals to others you can think creatively on your own if the need arises, but you'd use all available knowledge to save time too, rather than spending days re-solving an already solved problem.

  • Nekrotzar (unregistered) in reply to Craig






  • code_goddess (unregistered) in reply to Submitted this to Slashdot. Go upvote it!!!

    Much of Earth's interior is nickel-iron; both metals are around 8 times as dense as water, so the entire Earth's mean density would be considerably more than 60 lbs/sq ft.

  • Handsome Jack (unregistered)

    Do us all a favor and name names.

  • verisimilidude (unregistered) in reply to Submitted this to Slashdot. Go upvote it!!!

    Points off for trying to do it in the feet-gallon-pounds system. Go with metric when faced with something like this

  • Boots (unregistered)

    I wonder if they had a quota for female interviewees they had to meet for each position, and tried to misogynistically dodge it by taking an unrelated interviewee and double-counting them across ALL those other positions... just the chance of it makes me furious.

  • Zenith (unregistered) in reply to siciac

    Sunk cost fallacy is a big factor. So is the pressure of needing a paycheck. The Silicon Valley crowd and folks that lucked into high-paying gigs right out of school just don't understand what the market looks like outside of that bubble. Not everybody lives in a city, can flip their house overnight, or has options to exercise while conducting a leisurely cross-country search. Whatever dumpster fire of an interview you're in might be the only one that week. You put up with it and hope that something else, anything else, comes through in the meantime.

    That said...

    It's probably starting to look like my calling card but a place that interviews like that is clearly not a place for smart people. Had Natasha made it through that ordeal of an interview, it would've only been the beginning. The rest of the team has the business, its customers, or both fooled and does not want their gravy train upset. You solve a few problems that were declared unsolvable and suddenly one afternoon you're holding a box with your stuff in it because "it's just not working out." The sooner you can see what's coming, the better prepared you'll be for when it happens.

    This line of questioning is on my short list of warning signs, right with running your mouth off about a code "standard" and refusing to show it to me. There's absolutely no upside to being perpetually second-guessed on everything or held to ever-shifting "rules" that are actively hidden from you.

  • Friedrice the Great (unregistered)

    I went to a 2 hour team interview for a now-long-deceased airline. The team spent the entire 2 hours putting out fires involving some system that had nothing whatever to do with the position they were "interviewing" me for. They went out of business a few months later. Glad I didn't have to go through that mess!

  • embedded (unregistered) in reply to Steve_The_Cynic

    *(a+5)= gets a compiler warning on some of the compilers I use. Even on the ones that don't give a warning, *(a+5)= generates badly un-optimised code, Even where large slow code doesn't matter, *(a+5)= gets refactored by some other programmer next year, because he doesn't like the look of it.

    In an interview, you're always second-guessing the interviewer. I'd look at it and say

    "That looks like pointer arithmetic on the LH side of an expression"

  • Rollie (unregistered) in reply to siciac

    I'm a fan of "OK, I'd like to withdraw myself from consideration, but thanks for your time." And I'd have started considering it at "Thank god!!"

  • (nodebb)

    I have Turkey Volume Guessing Man on speed-dial.

  • Kenneth Mitchell (google)

    Calculate the mass of the Earth? Easy-peasy. We know that for mathematical purposes, we can assume that the entire mass of the Earth is a point source in the center. Then calculate the mass it takes to cause a satellite at geosynchronous orbit distance (23,3000 miles) to orbit the Earth in exact;ly 24 hours.

    Or better yet, look it up. I'd need to look up the precise number for geosynch altitude anyway, and it's been long enough since my orbital mechanics class that I'd also need to look up the formula. And my slide rule is in a box here somewhere....

  • Duke of New York (unregistered) in reply to Quite

    Sounds like they picked someone internally for the position and were interviewing candidates as a formality.

    How to estimate the mass of the earth? I think that would involve hanging your momma from a torsion balance, har har.

  • (nodebb)

    I had one of those weird questions in an interview once. After all of the relevant coder and experience discussion concluded, the manager asked me "Why are manholes round?"

    Without skipping a beat I replied "Manholes are circular so that the covers can't fall into the hole." and I immediately saw disappointment in his expression. When I asked about that, he said that he asks the question because he enjoys hearing people trying to guess and coming up with the weirdest explanations.

  • José Yeray Cabello Ramos (google)

    Shouldn't this be in the category "Tales from the interview"? Oh, no smartasses, I see.

  • akozakie (unregistered) in reply to Quite

    Or perhaps Irving was actually the most ethical man there? One who thought the idea to waste time interviewing someone you are NOT going to hire for the originally offered position for all the other open positions is stupid, but (perhaps due to general recruitment problems) got either pressured by someone higher or succumbed to the begging of the other recruiting teams...

    Not likely, but also possible.

  • Worf (unregistered) in reply to akozakie
    Or perhaps Irving was actually the most ethical man there? One who thought the idea to waste time interviewing someone you are NOT going to hire for the originally offered position for all the other open positions is stupid, but (perhaps due to general recruitment problems) got either pressured by someone higher or succumbed to the begging of the other recruiting teams...

    If that was the case, then he'd have told her immediately at the beginning that the position was filled, but was forced to interview for other positions. If she wanted, she could continue the interview, or they can end it and avoid wasting everyone's time.

    Of course, it would be even more ethical to tell her before she even arrives at the office and decide whether it's worth pursuing other positions. If not, then no one's time is wasted at all.

    It's better to give the candidate a heads up that these things happen and let them decide to continue (and prepare accordingly) than to spring it on them at the last minute, especially at the end of the interview.

  • MiserableOldGit (unregistered)

    I got sent to an interview for a DBA role once, by a useless agent.

    Very quickly it became apparent the questions didn't relate to my skill set and I said so, tried to politely call it a day. The pushy woman interviewing me just wouldn't let it go; "so what's the biggest table you ever worked with?", "How many triggers did it have?" etc etc. Of course I'm a developer, so I never routinely "supported" stuff like that unless there was a real problem. Eventually she backed down, but she was determined to see it through first. I suspect it was virtual dick-waving. She went and got someone from the development team to give me hasty and unprepared interview, which was, of course, an even bigger waste of more people's time. I could blame the agent, but she'd had my CV for a week.

    Coincidentally, I did get a developer role there a couple of years later, and discovered this large, business critical database was a tangled mess of shite suffering from daily reboots due to pyramids of deadlocks and a very, very poorly designed middle layer. Their "performance optimisations" had given them a load of race conditions and the data quality was unusably shite. Should've trusted my original impression on that one.

  • Dave (unregistered) in reply to AgentDenton

    I've been asked the stupid manhole cover question a few times. If you really want to nonplus your interviewer, point out that in fact most manhole covers aren't round. Once we ended up outside taking a stroll and che king while we finished the interview.

  • DrPepper (unregistered)

    I had a similar experience once (with a defense contractor no less). Flew me out to California for an interview based on the phrase "Artificial Intelligence" on my resume. Totally failed the interview for that position (it turns out I had one semester of AI; they were looking for a Masters/PhD). Sent me around to all the other divisions in case one of them might be interested in me. Flew me back home. The end. I mean really -- "submarine manufacturing?"

  • gnasher729 (unregistered) in reply to AgentDenton

    Re: Round manhole covers. Manhole covers are heavy. You don't want to have to carry them. By making them round, a man can easily move a manhole cover over a long distance by lifting it on its side and rolling it. There are plenty of shapes to make a manhole so that the cover cannot fall into the manhole, but the round one has this advantage.

  • markm (unregistered) in reply to Dave

    "in fact most manhole covers aren't round."

    Where? Here in Grand Rapids, Michigan, I drive over dozens of manholes every day, most of them a few inches higher or lower than the pavement, and every one of them is round. I think I saw a square manhole once, when I served in the military, but I can't remember when or where.

  • markm (unregistered)

    The iron core starts a little less than halfway down, so considerably more than half of Earth's volume is rock (the mantle), not iron. Most rock has a density around 3 times water, and solid iron about 8 times water ON THE SURFACE. But even a few miles down, the pressure is high enough to significantly compress rock, and at core pressures iron is compressed to a higher density. So if I was going to try to estimate the Earth's mass just from volume, I would guess about 10 times the density of water.

    According to Wikipedia, the average density is 5.5 tonne/cubic meter = about 5.5 times water, so I guessed high. "The densities are between 9,900 and 12,200 kg/m3 in the outer core and 12,600–13,000 kg/m3 in the inner core." So there's not as much compression as I guessed.

    A better way: Google the gravitational constant (G in F = GmM/r^2). (I'd worry about someone who has G memorized, unless they're an astronomer or in a branch of physics that uses G regularly.) The weight (F) of a 1 kg mass (m) on the surface of Earth is 9.8 Newtons = 9.8 Kg m /s^2. The radius (r) is about 4,000 miles, or about 6,400,000 meters. (Or google that, too.) Solve for M = the mass of the earth.

  • markm (unregistered) in reply to markm

    The theoretically best way, but the only time I might ask for this in a job interview is if I were hiring a physicist to calculate orbits for NASA: The mass of Earth can be measured by orbital mechanics, but I think what that gives you directly is GM - you have to look up G and divide to get the mass. According to Wikipedia, G in itself can only be measured in lab experiments, which are rather iffy and of limited accuracy because G is so small compared to all the incidental forces anywhere on earth.

    And of course, for practical purposes the best way is to either google "mass of the earth" or go to the Wikipedia page for Earth and look it up. If I had to answer this in a job interview, I'd say that this was the best way, but accept that the interviewer wanted to see how I'd work through it from other information, so either method 1 (guessing the density) or 2 (looking up G and working from 9.8m/s^2). But it seems an odd question for a programmer, unless understanding the software requirements requires general science and physics knowledge. (I've got this because I'm not primarily a programmer, but a hardware engineer with some programming skills, who switched from Physics to Engineering in college.)

Leave a comment on “The Interview Gauntlet”

Log In or post as a guest

Replying to comment #:

« Return to Article