My own WTF interview



  • After reading the latest article the Amazon River article, I wanted to share my own WTF interview.

    I had been put forward by a recruiter for an interview with a local web dev company that seemed to build standard content websites powered by popular CMS systems such as Wordpress, Umbraco etc.

    I was forewarned by the recruiter that several applicants have found that the interview was quite tricky. I thought they meant tricky as in many technical questions. Not so.

    I phoned ahead to say that I had problems finding the place as they had two properties in close proximity and I went to the wrong one. Luckily I wasn't late and I was asked first to sit at Reception. I was made to wait 15-20 minutes.

    Eventually I was called up and I was sat opposite a young woman in her late twenties and an older man looked like he was in his late forties.

    In front of me was a very small glass and a ridiculous jug that was filled the brim. What followed was a 1 and a half hour good cop / bad cop routine. First I was quizzed as to why I thought being late was acceptable, I said "Firstly I wasn't late and I had phoned in advance to warn them that I maybe a few minutes late as I had problems finding the building".

    I was repeatedly asked one question by the young woman and then had my answer thrown back at me by the older gentleman. Questions were in the form of "How would you do task X". The retort from the older gentle was usually in the form of "why is that good for the business?" and I had no direct answer because it wasn't what I was originally asked to answer.

    It took me about 4 or 5 questions to realise what was going on. I didn't have any good retorts at first because my mind was still reeling from the absurdity of it. I was then asked "In what order would importance would you put the following qualities, cost, aesthetics and function?", I answered them with my personal reasoning and then the older guy said "How does that benefit the business?" ... at that point I retorted "That is not what you asked me, if you wanted to know that you should have asked me different question".

    They realised the game was up and they started to try to explain the ridiculous interview technique and at this point I had decided that I would never work for them. I asked them quite honestly why they thought this was a good idea and excused myself.



  • @lucas said:

    I asked them quite honestly why they thought this was a good idea and excused myself.

    Please tell me you phrased it "How does that benefit the business?"


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    @lucas said:

    started to try to explain the ridiculous interview technique

    May I ask what their rationale was?

    The whole interview technique seems obtuse. If they had asked, "And why would you do it that way?", or "Why not use X instead?" so that they could test that you know why to do what you propose to do, that would be one thing. But to just keep firing back with the same question of why it is "good for business" just seems wrong, even to me. Yes, you should be able to occasionally answer such questions, but not for every single thing and probably not in the high pressure scope of an interview.

    Also, the fact that they asked you about being late when you were not, just seems shitty. Early on in my business building, I had a meeting setup with a potential client and I was approximately 3 minutes late. So...not really late. I check in at reception and they call back and tell me he will be up in a little bit as he is on the phone. When he meets me at the front, I apologize for being late (even though 3 minutes is entirely forgivable, but it was a nicety) and he borderline scolds me for not calling if I was running behind. It was at that point I decided not to do business with him.



  • @Intercourse said:

    May I ask what their rationale was?

    The whole interview technique seems obtuse. If they had asked, "And why would you do it that way?", or "Why not use X instead?" so that they could test that you know why to do what you propose to do, that would be one thing. But to just keep firing back with the same question of why it is "good for business" just seems wrong, even to me. Yes, you should be able to occasionally answer such questions, but not for every single thing and probably not in the high pressure scope of an interview.

    The rationale it seemed was to get me to reveal my true intentions, all it achieved was to baffle and irritate me.

    @Intercourse said:

    Also, the fact that they asked you about being late when you were not, just seems shitty.

    I dunno whether they were under the impression that I was late, but I bothered to phone ahead which at least shows I gave a shit about being on time.


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    @lucas said:

    I dunno whether they were under the impression that I was late, but I bothered to phone ahead which at least shows I gave a shit about being on time.

    Agreed.



  • @lucas said:

    The rationale it seemed was to get me to reveal my true intentions, all it achieved was to baffle and irritate me.

    Weren't your true intentions to a) get the job, and b) do a good job at your new job? I'm baffled too by this type of questioning....



  • @lucas said:

    I dunno whether they were under the impression that I was late, but I bothered to phone ahead which at least shows I gave a shit about being on time.

    Maybe whomever you spoke to told them you had called and said you would be late so they wandered off to play some Candy Crush or something which is why you have to wait 20 minutes once you got there?



  • @lucas said:

    I answered them with my personal reasoning and then the older guy said "How does that benefit the business?"

    "Because hamburger purple airplane kitty-cat. Next question?"



  • @lucas said:

    "How does that benefit the business?"

    It seems to me that might be an opportunity to respond with something along the lines of, "Because answering your BS questions is a necessary part of the hiring process, and hiring me would benefit the business because...." (Without the BS comment, of course.) Not that I would think of that in an interview situation.



  • The thing that really irritated me was that they had asked me to come in even though i had said to the recruiter "I don't know php that well I am a .net dev" ... Then they proceeded to waste my time with silly questions.



  • @lucas said:

    They realised the game was up and they started to try to explain the ridiculous interview technique

    What was their explanation? That they'd read it in one of those wanky interview 2.0 books or that they were trying to see how you coped under unreasonable conditions etc...



  • @lucas said:

    seemed to build standard content websites powered by popular CMS systems such as Wordpress, Umbraco etc.

    So basically, they are a crappy site mill with illusions of grandeur. A good reason to stay away.



  • @Cursorkeys said:

    That they'd read it in one of those wanky interview 2.0 books or that they were trying to see how you coped under unreasonable conditions etc...

    That Mitchell and Webb Look - Job Interview – 01:36
    — DapperChewie


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    @cartman82 said:

    crappy site mill

    I always call them "chop shops". Your phrase would probably fit better.



  • I probably said something along the lines of "I am having a few problems finding the place, I might be a few minutes late"



  • I would probably think less of a candidate in this case. I typically figure it out the day before or make sure I have plenty of extra time.



  • It was 3 years ago and Amazon wtf story brought most of it back. Their intentions seemed to be that they would find out what I am really like, they found out I suppose that I didn't appreciate being asked questions to try to trick me into revealing something past the "interview fascade".



  • In my defence they had two offices less than 5 minutes from one another. I went to the address on their "Contact Us" page. I used to go to a boxing club less about 50 yards away, so I thought I knew exactly where I was going.

    My current job I got the wrong train to the interview (I should have got the express train) and was 20 minutes late ... they didn't seem to mind at all.



  • @lucas said:

    In my defence they had two offices less than 5 minutes from one another.

    That was the impression I got from your OP. I wonder about not getting the address when arranging the interview. This casts another bad light on them.

    @lucas said:

    My current job I got the wrong train to the interview (I should have got the express train) and was 20 minutes late ... they didn't seem to mind at all.

    I wouldn't automatically reject you or anything, and train trouble sounds better to me than "can't find the right address."



  • Sure but whomever you spoke to passed on the message (or just thought if they were one of your interviewers) that that meant that you would be late 'cause listening comprehension takes too much effort and wandered off to do something "beneficial to the company".

    Unless making you wait 20 minutes was SOP to establish who's in charge.



  • There's something about this interview that sounds familiar...

    http://img79.imageshack.us/img79/889/screenshot319au8.jpg

    Oh, there it is. Usually we have to change the name of the company to "Initech" to hide who it is, but it looks like that won't work this time.



  • @boomzilla said:

    That was the impression I got from your OP. I wonder about not getting the address when arranging the interview. This casts another bad light on them.

    I had that happen when I interviewed at my current position. They gave me an address to building 1, which directed me to building 2, where I was then taken to building 3 (where I work now), since building 3 had no reception desk.

    Arrived early enough that I started my interview on time, though.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @boomzilla said:

    I wouldn't automatically reject you or anything, and train trouble sounds better to me than "can't find the right address."

    Dallas generally follows the model of "one block = 100 street addresses." Thus the first business on a block is usually going to have an address ending in 00 or maybe 02, on the even side, and all the other obvious things that implies.

    The place I work now has a street address ending in 005, except it's on the wrong side of the street for that numbering (It should actually be 097 or 099.) When I went there for my first in-person interview I went across the street, which was actually numbered 017. Fortunately it was easy to correct, I just went across the street.

    The discovery was a WTF in and of itself, because the building's sole occupant was apparently a legal office who did a lot of business involving repossessions or something. So I drove up the parking lot to the building, and missed a sign directing me not to do that. All of a sudden a security guard came running up to me and rudely asked what I was doing. I guess they figured I might have been a disgruntled reposessee or something, because you'd think I was planning on driving into the lobby and blowing up my car from the way he acted.

    As it turns out their parking lot connects, via two other linked lots, to the Sam's club nearby, so I drive through it frequently in the hopes that it gives their security hives.



  • One time I went to a made up interview for a company that make a navigation app for mobile devices.
    I had hard time finding the place so I called them and I said that I can't find the office and asked if they can give me some directions.
    They laughed and said you should have used our app. I laughed and said I do.



  • Sounds like the main office of my work.
    A bunch of buildings and a couple with receptionists, so candidates are directed to those buildings and led to another one where they are tortured all day (even during lunch).



  • @Monarch said:

    I laughed and said I do.

    And you didn't get the job?




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