Interview



  •  I recently decided to start looking for a new job so I sent out a few CVs. One of them was to a small to medium sized travel agency whose software development seemed to be limited to tying together booking services in a website running on Zend Framework. I got a call from them letting me know that they were interested and scheduled a phone interview. The phone interview turned out to be a 4 minute affair where I pretty much repeated what I had listed in my resume. The guy seemed happy and I was invited to an interview.

    I arrived to find about 5 people in a conference room and was told to wait until everyone showed up. "What the hell" I thought, "is the whole company going to interview me?". Nope, turns out there were 3 employees and 5 candidates in a single interview session.

    What the fuck is this happy horseshit?

    I was annoyed, but I had already hauled my ass over there, on a Saturday too,  so I might as well see what happened.

    It turned out that the reason for this gathering was that they wanted to do some "group exercises" to see how well we worked in a team. We started with a construction job. We were given some paper and a plushie and were given some specifications to build a paper house large enough to be inhabited by the plushie. It didn't go well.

    The second challenge was to solve Einstein's puzzle with a twist. The puzzle was divided into 5 pieces of paper and each candidate was given one with the instruction that we were not to show our paper to the others.  We could however tell the others what we had and even copy it down to a paper everyone could see. This didn't go well either.

    Now I understand that the point of this crap was to judge how well we worked in a team. What I don't understand is how a leaderless bunch of people that have only known each other for 10 minutes and are in a competition have anything whatsoever to do with a software development team. Maybe i just don't know enough about software development to see the brilliance behind these tests.

    Anyway we then moved on to a card game. Yes, you read that right, I was playing cards in an interview. The rules of an obscure card game were explained to us, which we then had to play in what I presumed was an effort to see how quickly we picked up things. We went at it for a while until we were informed that this is the end of the group exercises and the final part of the interview was to fill out a document. After that they would notify those of us that passed to come in for another interview with the lead developer and the company CEO.

    The document turned out to be an IQ test with a handful of extra questions thrown in for good measure. A couple were middle school physics question. No, I have no idea why I was answering physics questions in an interview for a PHP job. A few were about what I thought of the group exercises. I didn't answer those truthfully. There were even spelling questions. I'm not making this up, they had no idea whatsoever if I could code "hello world" and they were checking my spelling.

    Amusingly enough one of the questions was how much I expected to earn. Now you have to understand that at this point all I knew about the compay was the technologies used. I had no idea what hours they worked, benefits provided, stock options, what exactly they expected from me, nothing. How the hell do you expect me to quote a number? Anyway I put in a high number, handed it in and walked out of the "interview" without having been asked a single programming question. 

    A few days later they notified me that they had gone with someone else. I can't say I was heartbroken about it.



  • Why did you stay so long? I would have walked out, probably, just before they decided to start with the Zebra puzzle.



  • Concur. I've walked out of more dignified interviews than that.



  • I did an interview once where they started off with a group exercise for 10 at a time (one of which I suspect was a management plant). It was the old scenario of the plane that crashes in the desert miles from anywhere, do you walk to what you think is the nearest town and if so what do you take with you. I was by far the best qualified and I was the only one to work out - or already know - the correct strategy, and argue them with evidence against the apparent idiot who wanted to push the wrong answer on everyone else. I was also the only one to flunk. Because the test wasn't about initiative; they wanted someone who was socially compliant and wouldn't question orders from above. That's government for you.



  •  I agree with the sentiment of walking out, but I think, given my vindictive nature, I would probably just try to be a general pain in the ass. Ask stupid questions, request stupid things, "Can you give me a blue Plush bear, this yellow one will not fit with what I had in mind for the front garden if his house", "the specifications don't call for a driveway, how his his wife going to make it home?" and for the spelling I would ask "are we to correct this using UK or American spelling? Also, is this formal, or informal writing?" and for expected pay I would probably put "lifetime supply of bacon and whipped cream". Stuff like that, claim that I refuse to participate in an exercise because it goes against my being a Catholic Scientologist, then flip flop and say I'm jewish, etc.

     

    I mean, hey, if I waste my time going there only to find it's somewhere that I would never want to work in, I'm going to have some fun at their expense. 



  •  @BC_Programmer said:

    I agree with the sentiment of walking out, but I think, given my vindictive nature, I would probably just try to be a general pain in the ass.


    For me, my decision on whether to walk out or be a pain in the ass would depend on how long did it take me to get to this waste of time. If it was 5 minutes away, I'll be more than happy to walk away, return home, and watch TV. If I drove more than an hour to get to this interview, I'd try to have fun with it, if only to justify my long commute. However, if there was a nearby amusement park or other entertainment venue, I'd probably walk out and enjoy myself there.

    No matter what, though, I'd not want to work for this company as it obviously has PHB written all over it. The idea to get people together and perform exercises that seem to have come from some middle school gifted student convention must've come from some idiotic trade-show booklet some executive got and follows as his bible-du-jour.



  •  Found this on the internet just now: http://wilderdom.com/games/descriptions/SurvivalScenarios.html

     @Survival Scenario Exercise said:

    Description of a Group Dynamics Team Building Exercise

    [...]

    Possible scenarios:

    • Lost at sea or island survival (shipwreck)
    • Desert (plane crash)
    Sound familiar?

     



  • @BlackMan890 said:

     Found this on the internet just now: http://wilderdom.com/games/descriptions/SurvivalScenarios.html

     @Survival Scenario Exercise said:

    Description of a Group Dynamics Team Building Exercise

    [...]

    Possible scenarios:

    • Lost at sea or island survival (shipwreck)
    • Desert (plane crash)
    Sound familiar?

     


    Ha, I've done the Survival Equipment one in a Business class before.  Being many years ago, I don't remember what the point of it was.



  • @PJH said:

    Why did you stay so long? I would have walked out
    It was a half hour drive to get there and I had nothing else planned so I figured I might as well stay and see what happened. If I walked away from a job at the first sign of idiocy I'd end up unemployed very quickly. Besides if I had left, I'd never have this awesome story for you.



  • @BC_Programmer said:

     I agree with the sentiment of walking out, but I think, given my vindictive nature, I would probably just try to be a general pain in the ass. Ask stupid questions, request stupid things, "Can you give me a blue Plush bear, this yellow one will not fit with what I had in mind for the front garden if his house", "the specifications don't call for a driveway, how his his wife going to make it home?" and for the spelling I would ask "are we to correct this using UK or American spelling? Also, is this formal, or informal writing?" and for expected pay I would probably put "lifetime supply of bacon and whipped cream". Stuff like that, claim that I refuse to participate in an exercise because it goes against my being a Catholic Scientologist, then flip flop and say I'm jewish, etc.

     

    I mean, hey, if I waste my time going there only to find it's somewhere that I would never want to work in, I'm going to have some fun at their expense. 

     

    For bonus points, organize the other applicants in a revolt against the target company.  If they're any kind of competent at all, they consider it a waste of time too, and you can demonstrate your leadership abilities in being the one to put the mutiny together.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @BlackMan890 said:

    Possible scenarios:

    • Lost at sea or island survival (shipwreck)
    • Desert (plane crash)
    Sound familiar?

     

     

    The thing that really pisses me off about these scenarios is that they NEVER have the sort of useful items you'd expect to find in a mutilated airplane, and they always have things that don't belong there at all. You can build a seriously bomb-ass camp out of a crashed airplane from the size of a King Air or Cessna Caravan on up (so anything any reasonably-sized group would fit on).



  • @da Doctah said:

    For bonus points, organize the other applicants in a revolt against the target company.  If they're any kind of competent at all, they consider it a waste of time too, and you can demonstrate your leadership abilities in being the one to put the mutiny together.
     

    12 Angry Men.

    It's black & white, but I imagine the guy's in a yellow suit.



  • @Julia said:

    It was the old scenario of the plane that crashes in the desert miles from anywhere, do you walk to what you think is the nearest town and if so what do you take with you. I was by far the best qualified and I was the only one to work out - or already know - the correct strategy

    So, what IS the correct strategy: stay or walk? I think I'd stay, provided I had either a mirror and/or a flare or something to light a fire available.



  • @Cad Delworth said:

    @Julia said:
    It was the old scenario of the plane that crashes in the desert miles from anywhere, do you walk to what you think is the nearest town and if so what do you take with you. I was by far the best qualified and I was the only one to work out - or already know - the correct strategy

    So, what IS the correct strategy: stay or walk? I think I'd stay, provided I had either a mirror and/or a flare or something to light a fire available.

    Build a new plane out of the wreckage!



  • @Weng said:

    The thing that really pisses me off about these scenarios is that they NEVER have the sort of useful items you'd expect to find in a mutilated airplane, and they always have things that don't belong there at all.

    They just want to see how well you perform with non-standard tools. If you pass, you're almost certainly qualified to build an e-commerce site with MUMPS on top of their existing SSDS backend.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @fatbull said:

    They just want to see how well you perform with non-standard tools
    The mangled and dismembered carcass of an airplane is most certainly a non-standard tool. A .45 caliber handgun (presumably from the corpse of your friendly neighborhood air marshall) and items that can obviously be used to kill food, treat shock, treat wounds, keep warm and make fire are NOT.



  • @fatbull said:

    @Weng said:

    The thing that really pisses me off about these scenarios is that they NEVER have the sort of useful items you'd expect to find in a mutilated airplane, and they always have things that don't belong there at all.
    What would they say if you pulled up your sleeve to reveal a Breitling Emergency?



  • @fatbull said:

    They just want to see how well you perform with non-standard tools. If you pass, you're almost certainly qualified to build an e-commerce site with MUMPS on top of their existing SSDS backend.
     

    Or you'll be spending your work hours playing Zork or some other adventure game.



  •  I am sure they picked the applicant with the lowest expected salary and offered him 25% less.  The rest of the exercises were to weed out people who weren't desparate for the job.


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