Like many of us, Igor F keeps his LinkedIn profile vaguely up to date with his career, and that means he inevitably gets messages from recruiters trying to find talent for the latest trendy startup, or the big stable company struggling to find developers happy to work in its code mines, or the contracting company trying to staff up.

Igor usually ignored the pitch, but one recruiter said they were representing a startup in a domain that Igor was really interested in, and was hinting that they had money to burn.

The few message exchanges turned into a phone call. "So, your background is exactly what my client is looking for," the recruiter explained. "Like, literally, your resume is basically the job posting, to a 'T'. I've worked with these folks for a while, and I'm getting the sense that you would get along great with them."

"I mean," Igor said, "I'd like to, but it's probably too early to say that."

"Sure, sure," the recruiter said. "But that's why I want to get you on the phone with them. Their senior principal engineer is ready to have a conversation whenever you are."

Igor nodded along, used to hearing pitches like this. "Well," he said, "I'm not precisely looking for a new job, I've got room to grow in this position-"

"Not like they can give you at Initech. And speaking of growth, let me tell you what their salary range is."

The recruiter said what the salary range was. It was significantly higher than what Igor was making now. Not quite double, but close enough to make the difference academic. With that kind of money flying around, Igor couldn't say no to an interview.

A few days later, Igor, the recruiter, and Dudley, the "senior principal engineer" got together for a call. They went through the usual interview song and dance, and eventually Dudley got to the inevitable programming questions.

"Could you," he said, with a long pause to make it sound like he was thinking up the question on the spot, "oh, I don't know, write me code that'll traverse a tree."

"Yes," Igor said. He waited to hear if they were going to pull up a screen sharing session, or he was going to do a take-home assignment, or what was actually about to happen.

He waited longer.

The silence stretched out to the point where it went from merely uncomfortable to agonizing.

"So," Dudley said, "go ahead."

"Like, now?"

"Yes, just tell me the code that you'd write."

"You mean, just over the phone?"

"Yes," Dudley said, as if that should be perfectly obvious. "Think of it light a whiteboard challenge."

"But… I don't have a whiteboard. And even if I did, you couldn't see it."

"Think of me as your whiteboard," Dudley said. He didn't say, "you idiot," but his tone implied it.

"Okay, so you'd have a function that takes a node as a parameter," Igor started explaining the pseudocode logic that he'd use.

Dudley interrupted. "How do you define that function? This is a coding challenge."

Igor looked at his phone, wondering if he should just hang up, or give it the old college try, or just truck on with the pseudocode explanation. "Uh… let's say for this it could be public, static, traversetree, with node as a parameter."

Dudley huffed. "Don't you mean 'parenthesis, Node n, close parenthesis, open curly bracket? This is a coding challenge."

Igor did his best to verbally type out the Java syntax for a depth-first tree traversal. Each time he didn't specify a bracket, or a semi-colon, or a parenthesis, Dudley was ready to point out his mistake. Even pulling up a text editor so that he could type along didn't exactly make it easy to symbol-by-symbol "type" code over the phone.

The interview ended the way all awkward interviews do, with some mumbled "thanks for your time," and a hasty end to the call. Igor never heard back about the job, or from the recruiter. But it was definitely clear that he hadn't gotten "along great" with anyone on that call.

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