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Share your worse interview experience!

Peter Tran
Bartender

Joined: Jan 02, 2001
Posts: 783
I'm starting this topic hoping others will share their worst interview ever. If we all share our experience, hopefully we can learn from them.
--------------------------------------------------------------
My worse experience had to be a phone interview with this guy who was a real stickler for "correct" technical explanation. I had on my resume that I new SQL (and I do). So this guy starts to ask me things like "What's a left outer join? What's a right outer join? What's an inner join?" Okay, I knew the answer and given a whiteboard, I could even draw up an example of what my recordset would look like for each. Little did I know this guy wanted the following answer, "Given table A and table B, a right outer join from table A to table B will get you records matching your selection criteria in table A and all records in table B." I thought at the time, what the hell? I'm not a mathematician. How am I going to draw a freaking Venn diagram over the phone? I was pretty miffed. Needless to say, I never got a call back from their HR dept. I'm curios what he wrote on his follow-up report to HR. Oh well, I'd figure it's their lost.
-Peter
Ps. Of course, I opened up my SQL books that night.
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Oooh, oooh, great topic!
I have so many to choose from, where to begin...
Well, this wasn't any *one* interview, but a period. I was using John Hopkins of Romac (now KForce) as a recruiter in the fall of '99. I told him I wanted a
1. java job
2. at a startup
3. approximately less than 20 people
4. in the Boston/Cambridge area
Despite such strict requirements, there was no shortage of these companies (both I and another recruiter were able to find plenty of them for me). John, on the other hand sent me (or tried, by the end *I* insisted on phone screen the companies before I went to them) to companies doing C/C++, 45 minutes driving outside of Boston, companies 3-4 years old, and companies of 70 people or more. Early on, I went to this one company. 5 minutes into the interview I asked how big the comapny was, and was told it was 70 people. I told the interviewer that the recruiter mislead me and I wasn't interested, thanked him for his time, and left.

--Mark
hershey@vaultus.com
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Another good one.
I was gradutating from college, and was looking at Draper Labs. I gave them a resume and the called me in for an interview. This was in early December. After pulling an all nighter to do some school work, I arrived at 9am, knowing it was going to be a bad day. When I showed up, they guy I was supposed to meet with was in a meeting, and I wasn't on his calendar. I was told I was welcome to drop off a resume and they'd get back to me. I was pretty happy by this, because I knew if I interviewed, it would go badly.
A week later they called me and appologized. Apparently the HR dept forgot to schedule the meeting with the manager I was supposed to meet. No big deal. We scheduled another interview for later that December.
The day before the interview, a blizzard set in, over 3 feet of snow. The called me and said the company would closed that day, and we'd reschedule the interview another time. Understandable.
In early February, they came to my school's career fair. I dropped off a resume and when they saw my name they said "Oh Mark, we are so glad you came by, we were hoping to see you. We want to bring you in." (I don't know why they didn't call me.) So they promised they'd contact me to set something up.
A few weeks later, I got an email, "We're wondering why you didn't show up for your interview today." I emailed them back and asked "What interview?" Oops, they set up the interview with the mnager, but forgot to mention it to me. :-)
Finally, on the 4th try, I did interview with them.

Ultimately, I wasn't interested.

--Mark
hershey@vaultus.com
[This message has been edited by Mark Herschberg (edited February 22, 2001).]
Peter Tran
Bartender

Joined: Jan 02, 2001
Posts: 783
Mark - That last one is classic. I'm still laughing. Great story.
John Coxey
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 24, 2000
Posts: 503
My worst interview ever....
CENTROID, INC. (HOWARD, PA - STATE COLLEGE, PA)

I had just graduated from Univ of Pittsburgh (Dec. 1994), and was to have interview with this company. During the initial phone interview - they asked me my salary requirements - I mentioned $25-$30K. To which they replied - "no one is worth that much, you must be something special." Shoulda been a warning. They called the next day and said come on in.
So I arrive for interview. Secretary meets me at the door - says I cannot talk with company president until I pass their examination. Fine.
First question. Given the x/y coordinates of a point, and three other points. Is this a true arc. Basically, you had to pull out an old math distance formula and calculate the distances between the point and each of the three other points. If distance same, a true arc, if not - then not a true arc.
It was not a true arc. Answered differed by .0001, but it took like 45 minutes to get the answer. No calculator.
Second question. Write a circular queue in C++ - fine - that took about 15 minutes.
Third question. Use the company version of BASIC to incremently count (in binary notation) the number of times this motor goes clockwise - and decremently count by one each time the motor wheel revolves one time backward.
The input from the motor would be electrical signals. The pattern from the electrical signals would indicate forward or backward revolutions of motor wheel.
Three hours later - I get the puppy done. Remember, I am in suite and tie - totally soaking wet with sweat - as it took me forever to figure out this one.
-------
So, after four hours of exams. I ask to meet the company president. Fine. He takes look at project. Fine. He shakes hands and says "We will be getting in contact with you." He points and grunts "that's the way out", and goes back to his office.
Two weeks later get a Dear Sir/ Dear Mam form letter with the Dear Sir part circled. "Thanks but no thanks"
------
Bunch of total bastards.
Johnny
(jpcoxey@aol.com)


John Coxey
Evansville, Indiana, USA
Nathan Pruett
Bartender

Joined: Oct 18, 2000
Posts: 4121

My post doesn't really deal with an interview, but it does deal with bad experiences in the "looking for a job" category. I won't name any names since it has been so recent.
I recently changed jobs. I was working for a defense contractor that did mostly C++/C/Ada work. Since I had some Java experience from school ( AASU, 1999 ) they had me work on a Java/Intranet project. Unfortunately (for them), this proved to me that I enjoyed working with Java more than refactoring C/Oracle/Unix shell script apps that had originally been on a VAX and had been ported about 15 times since 1971... (This latter case proved to be the majority of projects I worked on after the initial one was finished.) So I began looking for a job. Unfortunately, I needed to work for this company for a year or pay back relocation expenses, so I posted to several job boards in October of 2000, specifying that I did not want to start until January of 2001. Well, it took me less than 24 hours to get my first response, and I got several (several, several) more in the weeks afterward. Unfortunately, the people reading the job boards are about as good at picking up details like these as some people on here are about reading up on the naming policy before posting. (I'm not naming any names... you know who you are... ) Basically, that meant that almost everyone that contacted me for the next two monthes wanted me to start in two weeks. The majority of people who contacted me were also recruiters (as many of the other job hunters on here can testify), and this experience has led me to theorize that there are four types of recruiters :

  1. Resume Harvesters: These guys send you an e-mail to either e-mail your resume back to them or to enter it via their online form. After doing this you never hear from these guys again. My guess is that they are doing this to show an overexpanded client base to any companies that are using them to look for programmers.

  2. One-Shot Wonders: These guys e-mail or call you about this great job that matches exactly with your skills and is exactly what you want. They talk with you some about your skills and about the job. They say that they will get back to you with the details... They don't. They basically drop off the face of the earth. My guess is that they either couldn't handle the stress of recruiting and quit or went postal in their office or they just found someone else who "fit" the job better and are now chooing to ignore you.

  3. Feeding Freny!: These are the guys that email you or call you and just... won't... stop... Usually, these consist of an entire team of three (or more) recruiters that call you repeatedly with requests to call them back (even if nothing is really happening with your job hunt) and set up 5 interviews a day (even when the job isn't what your looking for). They basically use a brute force method to find you a job. It works (a recruiting firm like this found me my current job), but it's really annoying...

  4. Good Recruiters: These are the relatively normal people that call you with offers that are applicable to what you are looking for... only after you have actually accepted an offer!


  5. Anyway, I can't complain too much... I did get a better job... a company with a more modern software development process... Java... UML... XML... younger employees... and most importantly a higher salary!!!
    -Nate
    [This message has been edited by Nathan Pruett (edited February 22, 2001).]


-Nate
Write once, run anywhere, because there's nowhere to hide! - /. A.C.
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
I think I just had another good interview story. I was told to interview this kid out of school. We usually do two rounds of interviews (for local people), and I know he had been in once before. I also know he had some questions about what working here is like, and wanted to meet the people with whom he'd be working.
I start off asking him general questions for about 10 minutes. Then I told him I'm going to start asking him Java questions to get a sense of his skill level. That's when he asked, "Is this an 'interview' interview? Because I already have an offer." Ooops! Apparently our HR person forgot to mention this fact to me. He was just in to meet people. Hopefully no harm done. :-)
--Mark
hershey@vaultus.com
Peter Tran
Bartender

Joined: Jan 02, 2001
Posts: 783
Mark,
You probably had him sweating for a minute there. It would have been fun to continue.
Argh...I have 2 interviews this week. I'm hoping they go well.
I should keep a note of what I like and don't like during the interview process and share them here.
-Peter
Steve Fahlbusch
Bartender

Joined: Sep 18, 2000
Posts: 562
    
    7

Another oops from an interviewee.
I was working as director of software development and had openings on three of my projects for interns. So I had the project leaders have joint interviews (so the students would
only have to sit through one interview). Well one of my project
leaders was sick and I was asked to sit in. {note: i am a very
informal person and usually wore shorts, sandals and polo shirts. For some reason, my project leaders desided to dress up
for the interviews).
Now just prior to the interview, I get called out for a minute. Well as one of my project leaders was describing the organization and the projects and how we worked (all the background type stuff) and how we were looking for interns, I
walked back into the interview.
The candidate looked at me, smiled and said. So you must be
an intern candidate also.
The project leaders turned white and one wispered, 'NO, he's
our boss'.
The poor candidate looked like he was going to faint. (But, I
did make sure he was hired).
bill bozeman
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 30, 2000
Posts: 1070
One of my worst interviews I have had recently dealt with a postion at VerticalNet in PA. Company is sound, they work you butt off, but great benefits.
Met with HR, everthing went well there. Met with one of the project leaders, fine there. Then I met with the lead developer and that was when it starting going down hill.
This guy was so smug I could barely stand it. He started asking me ASP questions, (I didn't know Java at this point) and I knew all of the answers. Then he asked me "How does ASP appear in a page" Wasn't sure exactly what he meant, but I told him how I like to write a lot of things in functions and procedure calls and I put any common functions in include files and stuff like that. He was like no, no, how do you start it. So I started talking about Language=VBScript and using option explicit and stuff like that. I still wasn't getting it. After about 10 minutes, I finally said "are you talking about the bracket percent sign?" And that was it. All he wanted to know was how do I you declare something is ASP as oppsed to HTML and I just couldn't gather it from the way he asked me. The most basic question and I felt stumped. Didn't help that after my first two responses I got nervous and my mind started racing.
My conclusion, don't read too much into the questions. I never would have thought they would ask something that basic, so I immediatly thought he was asking a more theoretical and layout question.
Well, live and learn.
I did get a job offer however. Didn't take it, but got the offer.
Bill
Val Dra
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 26, 2001
Posts: 439
I love asp questions because there is nothing about that technology that they can catch you on if like you said don't think too much on it. It's trivial.
One of my emberrasing moments was when i got the job offere and went on a first day at work. It was a VB position. I was happy about it that i was gonna get to do what i liked at that point but the co-workers that i must work there made me so uncomfortable that after 2 hours at this job i went to the bathroom and never got back to my seat. They later this day called and left a message but i was too embarresed to talk to them back.


Val SCJP <BR>going for SCJD
Frank Carver
Sheriff

Joined: Jan 07, 1999
Posts: 6920
I've got several stories. One of the funniest (after the fact) was the 'phone interview where I (a poor student at the time) had to call from a public call box, but got a coin jammed in part way through, and had to sprint off to find another call box, imagine me fretting beside boxes with people talking non-stop, sweating bullets as I dash through the streets trying to remember where the next nearest phone is.
The interview was actually interrupted several times, even when I did find a non-jammed call box, as it steadfastly refused to accept some of my carefully hoarded coins. But we all soldiered on, and I did get the job eventually. Amazing!


Read about me at frankcarver.me ~ Raspberry Alpha Omega ~ Frank's Punchbarrel Blog
Peter Tran
Bartender

Joined: Jan 02, 2001
Posts: 783
Frank,
That's a great story. It's amazing that you can continue the conversation without hearing most of it.
It reminds of me of a very embarrassing moment in college. Being a poor and resourceful college student can lead you down the wrong path in life. Here�s the story:
I couldn't afford to make long distance phone calls in college, which I really needed to do because I was on the Internet chatting a lot with this girl in Australia (I was in New Jersey), and she kept on saying she wanted to have my baby. Believe me, she had me hook. Did I mention I went to an engineering school where the ratio of male/female was 5/1? So I had to figure out an inexpensive way to call her (inexpensive == free). I scraped together my coins and went to Radio Shack to buy this automated phone dialer. This little gadget work by storing phone numbers and uses the phone tone to send the phone number to the switchboard. So after storing all the phone numbers, you would just place it on the mouthpiece and press the memory button to recall the stored number. It then sent the correct tone, which caused the switchboard to place the call for you. Great invention! Edison would have been proud. Anyway, your poor college student (me) figured that if you change the crystal inside the gadget to the correct frequency, you could trick the switchboard into thinking that you deposited coins. The next time you use a pay phone, listen to the sound it makes when you put 5, 10, 25 cents. The frequency is the same, but the number of times the frequency is sent is different. For example, 5 cents will send a �tink� while 10 cents will send �tink tink�, and so on. So I programmed this baby for the various legal coins in the US. First I tried several US long distance calls to get myself comfortable. And it worked great! Now for the chance to talk to my Babe in Australia, but little did I know that you have to talk to a real operator to make a long distance call on a pay phone! Ahhhhhh!!! So this operator tells me I need to put in an initial deposit of $10!!! Let me work out the numbers for you. 4 quarters = $1.00, so I needed to deposit in 40 coins. So here I am pushing away at my little contraption. I think around the 30th coin, the freaking thing falls apart!!! But I�m pretty smart (so I thought), and I had some coins ready to drop in but not enough to make up the difference. Try to imagine me, trying to put the freaking thing together with one had, juggling the phone on my shoulder and talking with the operator to give me a second while I look for more money, at the same time jiggling a bunch of pennies to make her think that I was looking for money with my free hand.
Finally, the operator told me that she knew I had a contraption that was trying to cheat the phone company. She wanted my name. At that moment, I hung up the phone and ran into my dormitory. Needless to say, I never used that pay phone for the remaining 3 years of college.
-Peter
Peter Tran
Bartender

Joined: Jan 02, 2001
Posts: 783
http://pub2.ezboard.com/fcomputerconsultantsdealingwithclients.showMessage?topicID=687.topic
A good link discussing some of the same topic.
Pete Pan
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 14, 2001
Posts: 44
I had an interview with a small start up company. It was the type of thing where they had 4 interviewers and 4 candidates. You spent 1/2 with each one. The first 3 I met were the technical people and I nailed all 3 and really liked the people and was excited about working there. Then I met with teh director. He started asking me questions like my High School GPA and SAT scores. Meanwhile I had graduated with 2 masters degrees and had been working for 6 years already. He started asking things like if you were an animal, which would you be an why. Then he went in to this big speech about how they are a start up and they means long hours and that they don't miss deadlines because they are a startup and startups can do that because people have to work long hours and then get their work done and how he never missed a dealine at this company (it was one big run on sentence). This would not have been so bad, but the guy I interviewed with right before this "director" told me that this guy had only been with the company EIGHT DAYS and there hadn't been a deadline in a month.
So the guy goes and asks me "what is your biggest weakness" and I said (maybe not the exact quote, but it was a while ago) "Stupid people who ask stupid questions". I then stood up, excused my self, took my resume back from him and left. Two weeks later I got a rejection letter.
Pete Pan
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 14, 2001
Posts: 44
Then there was the Microsoft interview. I had 5 interviews scheduled and it was a day trip each way (from Atlanta). So I spend a day to get there, and then I show up. Of the 5 people to interview me, 3 cancelled. Of the remaining 2, they were with the two groups that I said I would NEVER work for. They were both suppose to be 45 minute interviews. One guy was 30 minutes late and the other was 15. I was so pissed at this time (they left me in the hallway for a couple of hours by myself between interviews) that I started to throw the questions. They would have a sheet of 5 questions, 2 easy, 1 medium, 1 hard, and 1 impossible. I would go and get the hard AND the impossible and get the easy ones wrong on purpose. So at the end of the day I was back in HR and they asked me if I wanted to work for the compnay. I looked at the person and said "I would rather have my a**hole removed than work for your comany and I am going to run up the dinner bill tonight". I told the person who took me out to dinner the story and we had a $300 dinner.
Peter Tran
Bartender

Joined: Jan 02, 2001
Posts: 783
Hey Pete,
The person who took you out to dinner, was he/she a Microsoft employee?
Good stories.
-Peter
Pete Pan
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 14, 2001
Posts: 44
Yup, he was the guy who was SUPPOSE to talk me into the job (set up before the interview). I told him the story and we pretty much just bashed the company all night.
Originally posted by Peter Tran:
Hey Pete,
The person who took you out to dinner, was he/she a Microsoft employee?
Good stories.
-Peter

John Bateman
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 09, 2000
Posts: 320
Wow
Cool topic...
My own experience was when I was hired as the 'Senior Web Programmer / Project Manager' at a startup Web Hosting company like 5-6 years ago.
After the intereview I show up for my first day.. I walk in and am asked to wait at reception for the manager... I wait 4 hours.. he finally shows up and brings me to his office.. I dutifully ask "So chief, what you want me to take care of first.." he looks around the office, grabs a monitor off a table and say "Here.. hold this"...
I stood there for 10 mintes before realising this guy must have a crack problem cause he's ignoring me in his office and hasn't even TRIED to introduce me around or give me any orienteering.
I put the monitor down, went home, quit and billed him for my 10 minutes work...
I felt I had to rub it in...

They folded 6 months later.


[This message has been edited by John Bateman (edited April 03, 2001).]


SOURCE CODE should be SURROUNDED by "code" tags.
Roseanne Zhang
Ranch Hand

Joined: Nov 14, 2000
Posts: 1953
My worst experience:
About 7 years ago, I got a call for a phone interview, the guy talked with me less than 5 minutes, said perfect, and asked me drive there for a face-to-face interview, about 120 miles distance/240 miles round trip.
I drove there, and interviewed him for less than 5 minutes, he found out I was in a wrong skill set, because he did not read my resume right.
Since then, before I drive anywhere more than 30 miles or above, I always ask an extended phone interview first. Otherwise, "Sorry! I'm not interested."
Roseanne
Majid Khan
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 02, 2000
Posts: 92
I could write a book on this ? any backers
 
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