Worst. Interview. Ever.



  • I had a job interview yesterday. This opportunity came to me through a contract agency. As luck would have it, someone I knew over ten years ago was a client of theirs, and had recognised my name on the resume, and wanted to hire me for this fantastic new project. It's a high-security project for national law enforcement. It's a six month temp-to-perm assignment at 75% more than I make now. Would I be interested in this opportunity?

    Well, sure. We set up the interview. I went to the location. Then the warning bells started to go off.

    First of all, there was no company name. There was, instead, a piece of white paper taped to the side of the building. Written on this paper in black marker was the suite number I had been given, and an arrow pointing up and to the right. Underneath this makeshift sign was an aluminum stepladder.

    You see, the company had rented a warehouse in an industrial area of the city, which did not actually include any office space. Instead, there was only a loading dock and a massive storage bay. The large garage door to the interior was raised about four feet, so once I climbed the stepladder and stepped onto the concrete ledge outside it, I simply had to duck underneath to enter the... um... "office".

    I put the word "office" in quotes, because as I have said, it was a massive storage bay. Inside this area, they had constructed a reception area by fencing off space with cubicle walls. There was a receptionist, sitting in an ugly brown metal folding chair at her industrial grey metal desk, which looked very much like the ones they use in government installations. She asked if I was "that guy". I gave her my name, and she waved at three more ugly brown metal folding chairs lined up by the wall. I took this to mean I should sit, so I did.

    Some ten or fifteen minutes later, a young man arrived and asked if I was "that guy". Apparently, they had given me a nickname. Again, I gave my name, and he said they'd be with me "shortly". This happened three more times: ten or fifteen minutes went by, and the same man came in to say they'd be with me "shortly". Finally, another slightly older man showed up. He told me his name and invited me back. I walked out of the reception area, and saw the rest of the "office" for the first time.

    I may never recover.

    In the center of the warehouse, a cubicle farm had been constructed in several rows. Around the edges, however, what I can only assume to be management "offices" were located. They were clearly superior to the cubicles, because each of them was larger - and rather than being constructed from five-foot-high cubicle walls, they were constructed from pairs of five-foot-high cubicle walls stacked on top of one another.

    No, I am not kidding. Each of the offices against the wall was literally two identical modular cubicles stacked vertically. I can only assume they were somehow bolted together, but I would not be particularly shocked if they weren't.

    As we walked around the office, I heard all about this wonderful project, and how security-conscious they were. There was nobody else in this part of the office; apparently, this big important project is so secure nobody is allowed to work on it. But every so often, someone went in or out through a door at the back of the warehouse. Several people did this as we were walking around the "office". Eventually, I ask what's happening with this, and I get the really big WTF of this experience.

    The company is only renting HALF of the warehouse for their project. The other half is rented by a medical professional, whose patients need to come into this half sometimes because - prepare yourself - this is the half with the restrooms. Yes, a highly security-conscious company building a major project for national law enforcement was letting random visitors from the neighboring medical office into their facility to use the restroom.

    I was asked no questions about my skills or experience or abilities. None. After a few more minutes of hearing how great their project is, a project which I should remind you I have not even seen, my "interviewer" asked me the one and only question of the entire process: whether I could start next week.

    I politely explained that I really didn't want to start at all, and he immediately panicked. I had seen their confidential facility! He had told me all about their confidential project! I was undoubtedly going to run off and build a competing project! I simply could not leave the premises until I signed a nondisclosure agreement, and if I tried, they would have to call the FBI!

    I am still wondering what the hell kind of call that would be. "I have someone here who doesn't want to work for us! HE'S TRYING TO LEAVE! Send SWAT!" Unfortunately, I didn't have the cojones to find out, and just signed their NDA. It was pretty standard.

    After leaving, I phoned the contract agency and told them they simply couldn't pay me enough to work there, and while we were on the phone the recruiter told me they were on his other line and he'd call me back. He never did. God only knows what they told him.

    The really weird part is, I never did find out who it was working there that I knew ten years ago. I saw the receptionist, the guy saying they'd get me "shortly", and the "interviewer". I didn't see anyone else. I don't know that there WAS anyone else.

    Whoever it was, though, I sure as hell don't want to work for him.



  • @CDarklock said:

    They were clearly superior to the cubicles, because each of them was larger - and rather than being constructed from five-foot-high cubicle walls, they were constructed from pairs of five-foot-high cubicle walls stacked on top of one another.

     The pairs of cubicle walls were there add extra protection to upper management in the event that terrorists burst in and started shooting up the place.



  • And they never asked you who's your favorite person in history?



  • @ammoQ said:

    And they never asked you who's your favorite person in history?

    I think they assumed it was them.

    I'm busily trying to block the entire experience from my memory.

     



  • @CDarklock said:

    I'm busily trying to block the entire experience from my memory.

    Booze might help, if applied quickly. If it doesn't, try increasing the dose. 



  • Thank you for this amazing story.  I read with incredulity the entire thing, and actually wondered for a moment if you simply made up the story to entertain us at The Daily WTF.  Sadly, I think it's 100% true.  Surely could be a Tales From the Dark Side, Twilight Zone, or Outer Limits script, though.  If you had only started the position, you could have found out that they were really aliens from outer space ready to take over the planet.  Sadly, we'll never know.



  • @CDarklock said:

    @ammoQ said:

    And they never asked you who's your favorite person in history?

    I think they assumed it was them.

    I'm busily trying to block the entire experience from my memory.

    The correct answer was probably "Jack Bauer CTU"



  • I shivered while reading that.

    No technical interview whatsoever?  Hell, no questions about you at all?  No actual office?  No security?  A warehouse with cubicles and bare metal chairs?

    I don't care what the offered salary is, not even seven figures is worth that kind of environment.



  • Wow. Very similar to some scenes in "the trial" by Kafka. Especially the one where some crowded and suffocating administrative offices are installed in what appears to be an attic. Later, the offices just disappear.

     You should see "cypher", too. The story takes place in a paranoïd corporate world. Bizarre and beautiful.
     

    Anyway, this story is Ok, but I just can't believe it. But I don't live in the US. It's probably a prerequisite to see this story as plausible ;-)



  • I thought you were into the kind of interviews where they don't ask you questions based on your skills.

     

    Another thing.  You know damn well and good you would take the job for a 7 figure income!  that leaves you making >= $4000/ work day.  Meaning you are sitting there making $400/hr.  You could retire after 3 years and just work on whatever project you wanted to for the rest of your life. 



  • @CDarklock said:

    Unfortunately, I didn't have the cojones to find out, and just signed their NDA. It was pretty standard.

    Um, so you signed an NDA saying that you wouldn't reveal anything that you discovered during your interview?

    And then posted all the details here?
     



  • @GettinSadda said:

    @CDarklock said:

    Unfortunately, I didn't have the cojones to find out, and just signed their NDA. It was pretty standard.

    Um, so you signed an NDA saying that you wouldn't reveal anything that you discovered during your interview?

    And then posted all the details here?
     

    Um, he posted the [b]experience[/b] here. No location, no names, just what he saw. I don't see any program details in the story outside of "super secure".

    I don't know, was there something posted [b]behind[/b] the text that I just can't see?
     



  • @JamesKilton said:

    I don't know, was there something posted [b]behind[/b] the text that I just can't see?

    It's there, you just need to sign an NDA to view it ;) 



  • @JamesKilton said:

    @GettinSadda said:
    @CDarklock said:

    Unfortunately, I didn't have the cojones to find out, and just signed their NDA. It was pretty standard.

    Um, so you signed an NDA saying that you wouldn't reveal anything that you discovered during your interview?

    And then posted all the details here?
     

    Um, he posted the [b]experience[/b] here. No location, no names, just what he saw. I don't see any program details in the story outside of "super secure".

    I don't know, was there something posted [b]behind[/b] the text that I just can't see?
     

    Well, judging by how sane and sensible the company is (they were willing to call the FBI in if he failed to sign the NDA) how likely do you think they are to be happy with this account?



  • @GettinSadda said:

    @JamesKilton said:
    @GettinSadda said:
    @CDarklock said:

    Unfortunately, I didn't have the cojones to find out, and just signed their NDA. It was pretty standard.

    Um, so you signed an NDA saying that you wouldn't reveal anything that you discovered during your interview?

    And then posted all the details here?
     

    Um, he posted the [b]experience[/b] here. No location, no names, just what he saw. I don't see any program details in the story outside of "super secure".

    I don't know, was there something posted [b]behind[/b] the text that I just can't see?
     

    Well, judging by how sane and sensible the company is (they were willing to call the FBI in if he failed to sign the NDA) how likely do you think they are to be happy with this account?

     

    Why does it matter how unhappy they are?  As long as he hasn't violated the NDA then they can do all they want but it won't matter 



  • @GettinSadda said:

    Um, so you signed an NDA saying that you wouldn't reveal anything that you discovered during your interview?

    No, I signed an NDA saying I wouldn't reveal their technology or processes. Since I didn't see any technology or processes, it's effectively impossible for me to violate it.

    Now, it is POSSIBLE that they might claim their process depends upon making candidates wait an hour before an interview, or hiring candidates without asking them any questions, or stacking cubicles to make offices, or letting the general public use your restrooms.

    My defense would be that this is retarded. Which is a good defense, and underused:

     

    Plaintiff: "They didn't provide a 'wet floor' sign in the proper dialect of Korean, so I slipped and fell and they owe me damages."

    Defendant: "Your honor, this is retarded."

    Judge: "Hey! This IS retarded! Case dismissed."

     



  • @tster said:

    I thought you were into the kind of interviews where they don't ask you questions based on your skills.

    That's not precisely correct. I just don't think the primary purpose of an interview is to establish a skill level. The primary purpose of an interview is to establish an understanding of the candidate's ability to do the job. That ability ultimately has very little to do with the candidate's skill. Once you meet a certain minimum bar - you have a basic understanding of the technology you'll use, plus both the ability and desire to learn what you don't know - it becomes almost exclusively about whether you have the right temperament for the work environment.

    And in that light, the interview was probably an effective example of this. They probably DO NOT CARE what the candidate's temperament is. They clearly don't care to provide an effective work environment.

    Another thing.  You know damn well and good you would take the job for a 7 figure income! 

    What if you had a reasonable belief that you could get the same income working someplace else?

    I mean, they money they were offering was good - but it wasn't unreasonable for my skills and experience. It would be one thing if they were offering me a lot more money than I could make anywhere else, but they were just offering what anyone should be offering if they're serious.

    If the choice is whether to make $40 or $400 an hour, most people would choose $400 an hour. But if the choice is $400 at a reasonable company or $400 at an insane company, most people will avoid the insanity.

     



  • @CDarklock said:

    My defense would be that this is retarded. Which is a good defense, and underused:

     

    Plaintiff: "They didn't provide a 'wet floor' sign in the proper dialect of Korean, so I slipped and fell and they owe me damages."

    Defendant: "Your honor, this is retarded."

    Judge: "Hey! This IS retarded! Case dismissed."

    Ladies and gentlemen, this is Chewbacca. Chewbacca is a Wookiee from the planet Kashyyyk. But Chewbacca lives on the planet Endor. Now think about it; that does not make sense!

    Why would a Wookiee, an eight-foot tall Wookiee, want to live on Endor, with a bunch of two-foot tall Ewoks? That does not make sense! But more important, you have to ask yourself: What does this have to do with this case? Nothing. Ladies and gentlemen, it has nothing to do with this case! It does not make sense! Look at me. I'm a lawyer defending a major record company, and I'm talkin' about Chewbacca! Does that make sense? Ladies and gentlemen, I am not making any sense! None of this makes sense! And so you have to remember, when you're in that jury room deliberatin' and conjugatin' the Emancipation Proclamation, does it make sense? No! Ladies and gentlemen of this supposed jury, it does not make sense! If Chewbacca lives on Endor, you must acquit! The defense rests.



  • Well, if we're going to make Johnny Cochran jokes:

     



  • I would have so much fun in an interview like that.

    I would hold my cell phone up to my ear and say, "Uh-oh...I'm dialing out...I'm calling my special contact...I'm going to let them know everything I've seen here...LOOK OUT!!!"

    And then just watch as the interviewer leaps across their desk, scrambling to pry the "information leak" from my hands...I would be laughing all the while.

    That would be funny.

    What isn't funny is what a police state we've become. And how we're supposed to take all this Gestapo stuff for granted.



  • your right C#.  It is Gestapo to not allow a candidate to talk about a companies process.  Because in fact the company is the government, which is inescapable.  This is the epitome of police states because of this one company.


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