Meanest Interviewer Question



  • This question is for everybody. What is the meanest question an interviewer has asked you? Or, if you participated in a group interview, what is the meanest question you heard posed to the candidate?

    Here are some examples:

    "Are you sure you're interviewing for the right position?"

    "You're not real quick, are you?"

    "Did you bring an eraser? We can use that form again for our next applicant."



  • I can't say I ever heard anything particularly mean spirited.  I know that I've had to escort a couple interviewees out the door when they just didn't know anything, and I might have said something like "oh, I thought maybe I had the wrong resume".

    My Microsoft interview was a horror, but not because somebody was actively unpleasant, just because the MS hiring process is a terrible one. 

    I've been interviewed by people who thought they were throwing me a trick question, but it turns out that they didn't even understand their own question, and then argue with me when I begin to dig in for more details!   In one case I said "hmm, maybe you need to read this one in the book again so you can use it on the next guy" before I let myself out of the interview.

    -cw



  • Technical interview, Progressive Insurance, several years back ... on the third question he asked ...

    Are you familiar with Try-Catch-Finally blocks?
    Yes, I am. A Try-Catch-Finally block will ... <explanation of TCF blocks>.

    Will a Finally block always execute?
    Generally, but not always. There are certain cases, such as security exceptions and thread suspending, where the finally will not execute.

    Oh, well, no, actually, they *always* execute. Moving on --
    Well, no they don't won't. They *generally* will, but if, for example, you just killed the process, the finally blocks would not execute.

    No, if you read the documentation, you will see that they are ***guaranteed*** to execute. That's the whole point. Maybe if you *unplug* the computer in the middle, but otherwise, --
    I don't have the documentation in front of me, but there's a small, few line, code sample I could demostrate that this is not the case with.

    ... few more back and forths about how wrong I am ...

    Well, you know, obviously, you're not the C# expert you claim to be. You should really spend some time reading the documentation and, maybe, programming in C#. Moving on to the next question ...
    Okay. Well, I hate to cut this short, but I don't want to take any more of your time. Thank you for speaking with me about this opporunity but it just doesn't seem like a good fit.



  • <FONT face=Tahoma>this is not really mean but i find it quite annoying:

    (not the exact words)
    Interviewer: Can you share an experience where you encountered some problems?
    Me: <cited an example>
    Interviewer: And how are you able to resolve that?
    Me: <described the resolution>
    Interviewer: What were you thinking when you did <an action in the resolution>?
    Me: <explain>
    Interviewer: What were you thinking when you did that?
    Me: <explain further>
    Interviewer: What were you thinking when you did that?
    Me: <explain further more>
    Interviewer: What were you thinking when you ...

    <lasted for about an hour on that question with ever increasing amount of detail until I almost asked myself, "why am I thinking?">


    probably a psychological question, but really a memorable one.. :)</FONT>



  • This is totally unrelated, but one time I had an interview with a guy who liked to sit really close to his candidates. He was asking me all sorts of questions and I could feel his hot breath on my face (he was that close). He kept moving his chair in closer and closer. At one point I felt like he wanted to caress my leg. I don't even remember how I responded to his questions. I just remember thinking that I had to get the ____ out of there. That was probably the most uncomfortable interview I ever had.



  • Slightly OT, but I've developed a reputation for giving very hard interviews. I have this utterly irrational idea that the candidate actually be able to demonstrate their skill.

    In a previous position as a Network Operations Manager back when everyone just used recruiters for every position, I actually made a candidate cry[1] and was told by the recruiter my interviews were too hard.

    The funniest interview question I've been asked was a joking off-handed remark:

    "What runs on tcp port 666?"

    "There is no RFC defining port 666's in use, but its colloqially the port the game Doom uses. By the way, its a horrid choice, because its below the 1024 limit, meaning the doom server would running as root under *nix."

    The tech interviewer's response was "Hire him. He knows his stuff. And we need one more for the Quake tournaments."

    ...Xoff

    --
    [1] He was interviewing for a senior network engineering position, claimed 5+ years of Cisco experience, and couldn't get admin privs (i.e. enable) on the console of a Cisco 2500 series when I handed him the passwords. I gave him 2 minutes of fumbling, thanked him for his time, and said he wasn't a good fit because we actually used Cisco equipment instead of just saying we did.



  • @xoff said:

    The funniest interview question I've been asked was a joking off-handed remark:

    "What runs on tcp port 666?"

    "There is no RFC defining port 666's in use, but its colloqially the port the game Doom uses. By the way, its a horrid choice, because its below the 1024 limit, meaning the doom server would running as root under *nix."

    The tech interviewer's response was "Hire him. He knows his stuff. And we need one more for the Quake tournaments."

    ...Xoff

    I once had an interview where that night's round of Unreal Tournament was part of the interview process.  (I got the job).



  • @Alex Papadimoulis said:


    Will a Finally block always execute?
    Generally, but not always. There are certain cases, such as security exceptions and thread suspending, where the finally will not execute.

    Oh, well, no, actually, they *always* execute. Moving on --
    Well, no they don't won't. They *generally* will, but if, for example, you just killed the process, the finally blocks would not execute.

    No, if you read the documentation, you will see that they are ***guaranteed*** to execute. That's the whole point. Maybe if you *unplug* the computer in the middle, but otherwise, --
    I don't have the documentation in front of me, but there's a small, few line, code sample I could demostrate that this is not the case with.



      Erm, I reckon he is right. If one kills a process then the OS will kill it right away, it won't wait around for the final block to run. Well at least for windows NT, I'd be surprised if any other OS behaved differently.
    http://blogs.msdn.com/oldnewthing/archive/2004/07/22/191123.aspx
     
      OTOH maybe the idea of giving a question that is diliberately wrong is a fairly mean question. :)
     


  • @CPound said:

    This is totally unrelated, but one time I had an interview with a guy who liked to sit really close to his candidates. He was asking me all sorts of questions and I could feel his hot breath on my face (he was that close). He kept moving his chair in closer and closer. At one point I felt like he wanted to caress my leg. I don't even remember how I responded to his questions. I just remember thinking that I had to get the ____ out of there. That was probably the most uncomfortable interview I ever had.

     

    WTF! ROFLMAO!!!



  • ... how about an IQ test to kick the interview off ...?  Yup, just had that experience ... we'll see if I get a return phone call ...



  • @Ringo said:

    @CPound said:
    This is totally unrelated, but one time I had an interview with a guy who liked to sit really close to his candidates. He was asking me all sorts of questions and I could feel his hot breath on my face (he was that close). He kept moving his chair in closer and closer. At one point I felt like he wanted to caress my leg. I don't even remember how I responded to his questions. I just remember thinking that I had to get the ____ out of there. That was probably the most uncomfortable interview I ever had.
    WTF! ROFLMAO!!!

    It's a true story too.



  • Interviewer: "How many years coding experience do you have?"

    Me: "I have been working as a professional software developer for 3 years."

    Interviewer: "How was your time allocated?"

    Me: "I don't understand."

    I: "As a software developer you've done different things, as I can see
    on your resume.  Design, coding, testing etc.  How much time
    would you say you've spent on each?"

    Me: "Oh.  Well, I couldn't say for sure, but if I had to guess I'd
    say 1/3 analysis, 1/3 design, 1/3 implementation and testing."

    I: "So what you're saying is that you've really only got 1 year of coding experience."

    Me: <wtf>?!?!




  • @Rodyland said:

    I: "As a software developer you've done different things, as I can see
    on your resume.  Design, coding, testing etc.  How much time
    would you say you've spent on each?"

    Me: "Oh.  Well, I couldn't say for sure, but if I had to guess I'd
    say 1/3 analysis, 1/3 design, 1/3 implementation and testing."

    I: "So what you're saying is that you've really only got 1 year of coding experience."

    Me: <wtf>?!?!
    There's a reason the interviewer said that. A seasoned developer would have realized this is a trick question. Splitting your time evenly is obviously the wrong answer.

    You can go one of two ways with this.

    You could say you spend the majority of your time designing, which is a good thing because the better the design the less likely the application implementation will fail. The other route you could go is say you spend most of your time testing. This shows how thorough you are...and you can never do enough testing.

    Saying you spend the most time coding will make you look like a fool, since everyone knows that's where you spend the least amount of your time.

    The trick to this question is that the interviewer has a preference for spending the most time designing or testing. You have a 50-50 chance to get the answer right. Otherwise, you fail the interview. And that sucks.



  • I'm not a programmer, just a fool who stumbled from job to job until he made a decent career out of I.T. support and management.  I've had many, many interviews, and plenty of them have been humiliating but one line jumps out as the meanest.

    Back in the early '90s I had a preliminary phone interview with I think Volt employment agency in Los Angeles.

    Interviewer: You said you have a degree from U.C.L.A.?
    Me: Yes
    Interviewer: What major?
    Me: History
    Interviewer: What's that good for? Answering 'Jeopardy' questions?

    I cut it short after that.



  • @Factory said:

    @Alex Papadimoulis said:

    Will a Finally block always execute?
    Generally, but not always. There are certain cases, such as security exceptions and thread suspending, where the finally will not execute.

    Oh, well, no, actually, they *always* execute. Moving on --
    Well, no they don't won't. They *generally* will, but if, for example, you just killed the process, the finally blocks would not execute.

    No, if you read the documentation, you will see that they are ***guaranteed*** to execute. That's the whole point. Maybe if you *unplug* the computer in the middle, but otherwise, --
    I don't have the documentation in front of me, but there's a small, few line, code sample I could demostrate that this is not the case with.



      Erm, I reckon he is right. If one kills a process then the OS will kill it right away, it won't wait around for the final block to run. Well at least for windows NT, I'd be surprised if any other OS behaved differently.
    http://blogs.msdn.com/oldnewthing/archive/2004/07/22/191123.aspx
     
      OTOH maybe the idea of giving a question that is diliberately wrong is a fairly mean question. :)
     


    On the off chance you were confused, I believe Alex was in normal type, and the interviewer was in underlined italics.  And I concur: Alex is right.  Consider:

    try {
      while(true) {
        sleep(60);
      }
    } catch {/* whatever */
    } finally {
      printf('Finally!');
    }

    If you kill the thread this is running in in any of a number of ways, obviously, you're never going to hit the finally.  The OS doesn't give a shit about your language's try construct, especially if you kill -9 the process.  Conceivably, some language runtimes might intercept some less aggressive signals and throw a "ProcessShutdownException", but really, at the most basic level, you have to ask yourself:

    "If any code in a finally block was guaranteed to run in full, how the hell would the OS ever kill a process?"  Obviously, you could just stick a while(true){} in the finally block, and your process would be immortal!


  • @Rodyland said:


    I: "So what you're saying is that you've really only got 1 year of coding experience."
    Me: <wtf>?!?!

    ... when the obvious answer should have been:

    "Oh no, I write worlds best practice specification documents. It's definitely 3 years coding."

    @rbanzai said:

    ........

    Interviewer: You said you have a degree from U.C.L.A.?
    Me: Yes
    Interviewer: What major?
    Me: History
    Interviewer: What's that good for? Answering 'Jeopardy' questions?

    .....

    I swear that questions like these are designed to see if you have a sense of humour.....

    I remember an interview where the guy started off asking a few simple questions about prvious jobs, etc, then as soon as answered his first technical question, about j2ee XML libraries IIRC, he started grilling me. He sat there with this wierd half smile that made me really unsure if he was being freindly, laughing at some private joke or about to tear my throat out with his bare hands. He asked question after question in finer and finer detail about whatever question I had just answered. I don't normally get nervous, but I was sweating that time. I got a lot of answers wrong, answers to subjects I knew inside out and backwards. When I could summon the presence of mind I corrected myself but in general I left feeling like an absolute fool.

    Amazingly, he hired me, and it turned out that he wasn't really sure of the answers to the questions he was asking. I guess he wanted to see how I handled myself under pressure. I suppose my phone interview, references and work history must have satisfied the technical requirements.



  • No, I have a sense of humor. This guy was being a prick. He was like that through the whole interview.

    What's funny is for my current job with a complete incompetent for a boss I never interviewed with anyone from the company. I interviewed with their temporary outside HR consultant. Then they fumbled around for a day or so before she called back with the offer. I started working there and had never even met someone from the company. I can only imagine how hideous the interview would've been with my actual boss. Probably wouldn't have taken the job. :)



  • @merreborn said:


    On the off chance you were confused, I believe Alex was in normal type, and the interviewer was in underlined italics.

      Indeed you are right, I thought that Alex was the person doing the hiring. :(



  • "I want to make sure you understand what this position is for..."
    He wasn't sure at the initial interview if I was qualified for the Associate Software Engineer position.

    I scored higher on his tests than the Senior position applicants did.

    Oh, a year later, I'm still ASE.

    x-p



  • <offtopic>
    Interviewer:
    If you are writing a SQL script, what would you prefer, a loop or a cursor?

    (I didn't know about cursors at that time, so)

    Me += Bluff:
    Well, the best answer to that question is "It depends", because, in the end, we are talking about server resources... so everything depends on the purpose of the query or even on the specs or the design I'm trying to implement.

    (He seemed satisfied with the response and I got the job, wee!)

    It was several years ago but I still laugh when I remember it  =)
    And no, the interview was not for a DBA position

    </offtopic>



  • My worst interview memory was not a question asked, but rather in the way I prepared for the Interview.



    The company I was currently working for (we will call "Medium -Sized
    Managed Care Provider") touted itself as "The Nations Leading Managed
    Care Organization", and justfiably I put that on my resume...... 
    The same resume I sent to "Larger-Sized Managed Care Provider".



    The very first remark from the interviewer went along the lines "So
    you're working at Medium-Sized Managed Care, the nations leading
    managed care organization.  We at Larger-Sized Managed Care like
    to think differently."  At that point in the interview I felt
    packing up and going home.  My mind went blank and I forgot 
    everything I had wanted to talk about. 



    The rest of the interview went well and by the time I got home they had left me voice-mail, and an offer.



    Sometimes it pays to be a bit naive.  Or maybe I dazzled them with my quick witted response... "Well Umm.. DOH!"









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