Things not to say at a job interview



  • I recently interviewed someone for a developer position.  He was a shining example of what not to do at a job interview.  So I present a practical guide of things to not say at a job interview:

    When asked about your first company: "I purposely ran it into the ground."
    When arriving: "I was going to wear jeans, but I decided at the last minute to get dressed up."
    When
    asked about working with others: "I don't like foreign programmers
    because I can't understand them and I end up doing all the work myself."
    When asked why you have yet to complete your bachelor's: "School is too easy."
    When asked why you chose development as a career path: "Development?"
    When asked about teamwork: "I hate working with engineers."
    When asked about learning experiences: "Everything I need to know is on the web."
    When asked what types of tasks you wouldn't like doing: "I don't want to do bullshit work."
    When asked about his lead skills: "The people I've worked with were technical in their own ghetto mind."
    When asked to solve a programming type of problem: "I don't know what an algorithm is, but my friend has used them before."
    When asked why you want to work for the interviewer's company: "You called me!"
    When asked what hobbies or interests you have: "My family is very important. My mother died recently..."
    When the floor opens up for you to ask questions: "I don't really know... what position am I interviewing for?"

    Also, don't submit code as a sample of your work that you copied from a newsgroup.  And, yes, this all came from one person.






  • HAHA!

     

    And i thought I had horrible interviewing skills.

    Hell this guy didnt even seem to have ANY skills.



  • And we all know that girls like boys who have skills.



  • @Benanov said:

    And we all know that girls like boys who have skills.

     

    Exactly.



  • At what point did the interview stop? I'm surprised he made it past the 3rd ersponse.

    How much time did you waste on this waste of space?

    @Ron said:


    When
    asked about working with others: "I don't like foreign programmers
    because I can't understand them and I end up doing all the work myself."

    Ok then thanks for coming in this interview is over. I can't belive you got past this point. I personally don't waste people's time if they are that bad.

    @Ron said:



    When asked why you want to work for the interviewer's company: "You called me!"
    When the floor opens up for you to ask questions: "I don't really know... what position am I interviewing for?"

    This sounds like a classic case of HR not doing there job.

    I once interviewed this one guy for a PGM position for an IDE. This one time I was bounced up to be the first one to talk to him and now I can see why. (I usually go last in a series of 8 1 hour interviews and have hiring priviliedges if you impressed all 7 preceeding people). This candidate had no experience in said language or any other programming language so I was pissed at HR. This sounds like a classic case of HR not doing there job. I ended the interview after 5 mins of working out he couldn't solve any programming problems on the whiteboard let alone talk about real world problems with developing an IDE. I ended the whole day of interviews so my team wasn't wasting it's time with this person. I told him no hire and exactly why, he agredd and was surprised we asked him to come in for an interview.




  • This one guy told me that despite his 5+ years of XML experience that XSLT was a typo and it should say XML. He'd never heard of XSLT.



  • @Ron said:

    When asked why you have yet to complete your bachelor's: "School is too easy."


    que legions of people who will say that school is too easy and also worthless because tech moves too fast, so that's why they never finished and furthermore they will never hire anyone with a degree because they'd rather have someone with experience and everyone they've ever known with a degree was totally cluesless and certifications are the way to demostrate your skills



  • @codenator said:

    @Ron said:



    When asked why you want to work for the interviewer's company: "You called me!"
    When the floor opens up for you to ask questions: "I don't really know... what position am I interviewing for?"

    This sounds like a classic case of HR not doing their job.

    Or a recruiter not doing their job.

    I got sent to an interview for what I thought was a development position, found the building, met my first contact, and as we're walking between buildings, was asked "So, why are you interested in this QA position?" Not missing a beat, I replied "I'm not interested in a QA position."  The interview ended right there on the sidewalk, with apologies on both sides, and was followed by at least one irate call to the recruiter who set it up.

     




  • @codenator said:

    At what point did the interview stop? I'm surprised he made it past the 3rd ersponse.

    How much time did you waste on this waste of space?


    I've heard tell that aborting the interview process early can potentially leave your company open to unfair hiring practice lawsuits.

    More or less, the interviewee can claim "The interview was scheduled to take an hour, but they kicked me out after 5 minutes, and you know it was 'cause I'm (a member of some sort of minority group)".

    I guess it's cheaper to waste a few manhours in pointless interviews, then to spend a couple grand on a lawyer to fight off a bullshit lawsuit.

    I think this is why most companies who subscribe to this policy have hiring processes that work in multiple rounds, starting with a short phone and/or group interview, which, if passed, leads to bringing people in for the big face to face, one on one interview.



  • @Jefffurry said:

    @codenator said:

    @Ron said:



    When asked why you want to work for the interviewer's company: "You called me!"
    When the floor opens up for you to ask questions: "I don't really know... what position am I interviewing for?"

    This sounds like a classic case of HR not doing their job.

    Or a recruiter not doing their job.

    I got sent to an interview for what I thought was a development position, found the building, met my first contact, and as we're walking between buildings, was asked "So, why are you interested in this QA position?" Not missing a beat, I replied "I'm not interested in a QA position."  The interview ended right there on the sidewalk, with apologies on both sides, and was followed by at least one irate call to the recruiter who set it up.

     


    Eh, recruiters are the worst, don't get me started on those blood sucking industry cripppling wankers.

    I would have still gone ahead with the interview if you were looking for a dev position since we are always looking for talent, we don't interview for positions normally we interview for talent and we always have open head count...if you were good enough i would have found you a dev position.

    You should check out google, microsoft and how they hire people. It's interesting.







  • @merreborn said:

    @codenator said:
    At what point did the interview stop? I'm surprised he made it past the 3rd ersponse.

    How much time did you waste on this waste of space?


    I've heard tell that aborting the interview process early can potentially leave your company open to unfair hiring practice lawsuits.

    More or less, the interviewee can claim "The interview was scheduled to take an hour, but they kicked me out after 5 minutes, and you know it was 'cause I'm (a member of some sort of minority group)".

    I guess it's cheaper to waste a few manhours in pointless interviews, then to spend a couple grand on a lawyer to fight off a bullshit lawsuit.

    I think this is why most companies who subscribe to this policy have hiring processes that work in multiple rounds, starting with a short phone and/or group interview, which, if passed, leads to bringing people in for the big face to face, one on one interview.



    This is a very good point. It is very usual to end an interview after 5 mins, it's only an extreme case but really not a problem when it's very obvious they are not cutting it. It's not really a problem ending an interview after 5 minutes if they are technically incompetent and you can prove it. We have phone screens and HR chats before a day of interviews and some slip thru the net.

    It's actually more of a problem when after 55 mins you are unsure and have 5 mins to left, it could go either way. I've been told by lawyers to imagine myself up on the stand giving evidense as to why the candidate is a no hire, yes you have to have a very valid reason. Our policy has always been it's better to not hire a maybe than to hire a marginal good preson since bad hires are what hurts a company the most. So yes you have to be careful but again you have to imagine that someone with no programming skills has any valid legal standing when applying for a technical job.

    Most of the time there's a mountain of evidense to suggest a no hire so rarely is it a problem. People who play the race card have no leg to stand on since my company has people of all ethnic background and religions working for it.






  • @codenator said:

    At what point did the interview stop? I'm surprised he made it past the 3rd ersponse.

    How much time did you waste on this waste of space?

    I'm fairly new at the interview process, and the resume looked good and his sample code looked decent enough, so I was trying to find something good about him.  Lesson learned ten fold.



  • my guess is he had a job better than the one you were offering him and he was just having fun.  stupid idea considering he might someday want to work at your company,  but I know people that have done shit like that.



  • I don't know what an interview is, but my friend has used them before. Am I hired?



  • @codenator said:

    I usually go last in a series of 8 1 hour interviews and have hiring priviliedges if you impressed all 7 preceeding people

     

    8 one-hour interviews?  That is WTF worthy all by itself.  You must pay extremely well,have great benefits and have a great work environment to get anybody worth hiring to put up with that.



  • @codenator said:

    This one guy told me that despite his 5+ years of XML experience that XSLT was a typo and it should say XML. He'd never heard of XSLT.



    Some guys have all the luck.



  • Are you sure you weren't interviewing Ali G?

    Nobody who actually wants the job could do that badly, right?



  • @campkev said:

    @codenator said:

    I usually go last in a series of 8 1 hour interviews and have hiring priviliedges if you impressed all 7 preceeding people

     

    8 one-hour interviews?  That is WTF worthy all by itself.  You must pay extremely well,have great benefits and have a great work environment to get anybody worth hiring to put up with that.



    It's pretty standard practice in good companies. And yes they do pay well with great benefits and we have no shortage of candidates wanting to *put up with that* to get in.


  • @campkev said:

    8 one-hour interviews?  That is WTF worthy all by itself.  You must pay extremely well,have great benefits and have a great work environment to get anybody worth hiring to put up with that.

    That's standard at my company, but split up on two days usually. First day is four technical interviews and second day is four interviews with different managers. Most larger banks in NYC do it that way atleast that I know of.



  • @pjsson said:

    @campkev said:
    8 one-hour interviews?  That is WTF worthy all by itself.  You must pay extremely well,have great benefits and have a great work environment to get anybody worth hiring to put up with that.

    That's standard at my company, but split up on two days usually. First day is four technical interviews and second day is four interviews with different managers. Most larger banks in NYC do it that way atleast that I know of.


    We do ours on one day, you start early with a list of 4-5 names, then if you do well at lunchtime you are given another 4-5 names depending on what team is interested in you.

    They are all technical interviews as we only hire technical people,, yes even management know what they are talking about. It's a wild idea!



  • @campkev said:

    8 one-hour interviews?  That is WTF worthy all by itself.  You must pay extremely well,have great benefits and have a great work environment to get anybody worth hiring to put up with that.


    If you want to get in at Microsoft, Yahoo, or Google, you'll end up sitting through something like that.

    If you're going to be employing someone 2,000 hours a year, it probably makes sense to actually spend a little time making sure they're the right one for the job.

    I mean, sure, if we're talking about some no-name webshop like canadianpetmeds.com or something, then a 30 minute interview is probably all you're gonna have to endure.  It's kinda a supply and demand issue.  No one wants to work for canadianpetmeds.com.  Anyone would happy to work for Google.



  • @codenator said:



    It's pretty standard practice in good companies. And yes they do pay well with great benefits and we have no shortage of candidates wanting to put up with that to get in.

     

    well I guess I have never worked at or even interviewed with a "good" company as I have never had eight different one-hour long interviews



  • @merreborn said:

    @campkev said:
    8 one-hour interviews?  That is WTF worthy all by itself.  You must pay extremely well,have great benefits and have a great work environment to get anybody worth hiring to put up with that.


    If you want to get in at Microsoft, Yahoo, or Google, you'll end up sitting through something like that.

    If you're going to be employing someone 2,000 hours a year, it probably makes sense to actually spend a little time making sure they're the right one for the job.

    I mean, sure, if we're talking about some no-name webshop like canadianpetmeds.com or something, then a 30 minute interview is probably all you're gonna have to endure.  It's kinda a supply and demand issue.  No one wants to work for canadianpetmeds.com.  Anyone would happy to work for Google.


    If yahoo sets the bar that high then why are all their sites and products crap? [Flame war starter]

    Why would I sit thru that for them when I could do the same and at google? I guess it's where google no hire's go :-)






  • 8 hours isn't excessive at all. 



  • @merreborn said:

    If you want to get in at Microsoft, Yahoo, or Google, you'll end up sitting through something like that.

    It also depends on what you're trying to do; higher experience means more important positions, and consequently greater employer risk in the event of a bad fit. The interview process for me to get into Microsoft took approximately 150 hours overall, spread out over six weeks with five to seven campus visits each week, and that's just a contract position. I probably won't get a permanent offer until I've been here two to three years.

    For comparison, one of the other developers on my team landed a contract position on the strength of a college transcript and one-hour interview alone, and got an offer within six months. A recent grad has an easier time of it, but also ends up with much less responsibility, so there's much lower risk to the company.

    Basically, an early-career developer can go any number of places with little notice, but a late-career developer is pretty solidly committed to where he's already pointed... and probably won't be turned from that path without massive effort. Greater risk needs more due diligence, so longer interview times and more interviewers.

    It may be argued that level of competence is more important than years of experience, but they tend to correlate rather closely.



  • Once, many years ago, I was receiving unemployment benefits.  One of the rules is that you have to apply for the jobs the unem. office asks you to. (as well as any other you might want, of course)

    They asked me to apply to a job I was obviously unqualified for... which I did.  I was never called for an interview. However, I can see a person who were actually called in do something like you decribe.

    In a more serious situation, I can easily see investing 8 hours of my time finding out if a company is the right place for me to spend the next few years.



  • @CDarklock said:

    @merreborn said:

    If you want to get in at Microsoft, Yahoo, or Google, you'll end up sitting through something like that.

    The interview process for me to get into Microsoft took approximately 150 hours overall, spread out over six weeks with five to seven campus visits each week, and that's just a contract position.

    Erm, while 8 hours does sound long, I wouldn't think it to be excessive, but 150 hours I would have to say is rediculous, that's nearly a month of full time work. From the hiring side too, it sounds like the managers are somewhat inefficient.



  • 150 hours?  did you ask for at least 5 grand in compensation?



  • Hi! I just picked the most amazing booger in the lift on the way up here. Really, it was the size of my thumbnail, and really good and chewy. Do you ever get boogers that taste like salty roast lamb?



  • @Thalagyrt said:

    @Benanov said:
    And we all know that girls like boys who have skills.

    Heh... On Facebook I'm part of a group called "Napoleon Dynamite and The Gang of People who are Pretty Good With The Bowstaff"



    It's a Bo staff. Duh! Don't even think about the Nunchaku...



  • don't do what I did yesterday and suggest catching an error while programming in C.



  • @merreborn said:

    Anyone would happy to work for Google.

    speak for yourself - I wouldn't.



  • @tofu said:


    que legions of people who will say that school is too easy and also worthless because tech moves too fast, so that's why they never finished and furthermore they will never hire anyone with a degree because they'd rather have someone with experience and everyone they've ever known with a degree was totally cluesless and certifications are the way to demostrate your skills

    Ok - I've been programming professionally for almost 20 years now, and have seen zero correlation between completed degrees (whether in Comp Sci or not) and programming skill.  The best coders I've encountered are those who had a few years of college. 



  • @Ron said:

    When arriving: "I was going to wear jeans, but I decided at the last minute to get dressed up."
    When asked about working with others: "I don't like foreign programmers because I can't understand them and I end up doing all the work myself."
    When asked about teamwork: "I hate working with engineers."
    When asked about learning experiences: "Everything I need to know is on the web."
    When asked what types of tasks you wouldn't like doing: "I don't want to do bullshit work."

    Cant blame him for any of these...

    When asked to solve a programming type of problem: "I don't know what an algorithm is, but my friend has used them before."

    You may leave now.



  • @GrandmasterB said:

    Ok - I've been programming professionally for almost 20 years now, and have seen zero correlation between completed degrees (whether in Comp Sci or not) and programming skill.  The best coders I've encountered are those who had a few years of college. 



    That doesn't sound like zero correlation to me...



  • @Factory said:

    @CDarklock said:

    @merreborn said:

    If you want to get in at Microsoft, Yahoo, or Google, you'll end up sitting through something like that.

    The interview process for me to get into Microsoft took approximately 150 hours overall, spread out over six weeks with five to seven campus visits each week, and that's just a contract position.

    Erm, while 8 hours does sound long, I wouldn't think it to be excessive, but 150 hours I would have to say is rediculous, that's nearly a month of full time work. From the hiring side too, it sounds like the managers are somewhat inefficient.


    I think we have a "the real WTF" winner here!  150 hours!  Must be a typo, must have meant 15 hours.  But how can it be, if you are visiting 5-7 times a week for six weeks?!  Even with only one hour visits five times a week (the minimum possible given the description), that's 30 hours right there.  It must be one hell of a position, but how can it be, given that it is contract employment?  Okay, it must be an amazing contract, but oh wait, how could it be given it could take years to go full-time!  Something stinks here.


  • @CodeRage said:

    @Factory said:
    @CDarklock said:

    @merreborn said:

    If you want to get in at Microsoft, Yahoo, or Google, you'll end up sitting through something like that.

    The interview process for me to get into Microsoft took approximately 150 hours overall, spread out over six weeks with five to seven campus visits each week, and that's just a contract position.

    Erm, while 8 hours does sound long, I wouldn't think it to be excessive, but 150 hours I would have to say is rediculous, that's nearly a month of full time work. From the hiring side too, it sounds like the managers are somewhat inefficient.


    I think we have a "the real WTF" winner here!  150 hours!  Must be a typo, must have meant 15 hours.  But how can it be, if you are visiting 5-7 times a week for six weeks?!  Even with only one hour visits five times a week (the minimum possible given the description), that's 30 hours right there.  It must be one hell of a position, but how can it be, given that it is contract employment?  Okay, it must be an amazing contract, but oh wait, how could it be given it could take years to go full-time!  Something stinks here.

    I mean really, this is thousands of dollars of hours even at humble hourly contractor rates.  Why would anyone interview for a position they aren't guaranteed to get, while giving up so much in compensation to get it?  Surely the management must have been having a field day playing "string along the geek for a new company record" with this guy.  There must be a huge running joke there about this.  I can just imagine the snickers... "Hey!  There's the guy Bob strung along for 150 hours of interviews, a new company record!"  No, something still stinks here...

    Nobody needs to be that sure when hiring a contractor.  All they have to do is make sure they like what is on their resume, that the person is a decent fit, and that are reasonably sure the person has the skills they claim to have.  They can let a contractor go anytime if it doesn't work out, no company is so foolish as to waste 150 hours interviewing a candidate for a contract position.

    Yeesh...WTF.



  • @CodeRage said:

    It must be one hell of a position, but how can it be, given that it is contract employment?  Okay, it must be an amazing contract, but oh wait, how could it be given it could take years to go full-time!

    This was not one interview for one position. Each interview "cycle" was for a different position. In the early interviews, it was pretty obvious that some of them were just not going to work, but about a week into it they nailed down a pretty good idea of what I could do and where I would fit from a purely technical perspective. At that point, it was just a question of locating the right team, which took the majority of the time.

    It's important to note that I had firmly set my sights on working at Microsoft, and I was simply not going to work anywhere else. Most people don't do that with one company, and they rapidly encounter someone willing to hire them after a forty-five minute screening interview. The point isn't that I have some great job - the pay isn't what I was getting running my own company, and I certainly don't have the level of autonomy I had there - but that when you really want to work at a particular company, you'll put in a whole lot more than eight hours to get there.

    As far as full time goes, I expect to spend about six to eight months proving myself before I get an offer, but I don't expect it to take longer than a year.



  • you still spent about $5000 worth of time there.  pretty rediculous.



  • @CDarklock said:

    @CodeRage said:

    It must be one hell of a position, but how can it be, given that it is contract employment?  Okay, it must be an amazing contract, but oh wait, how could it be given it could take years to go full-time!

    It's important to note that I had firmly set my sights on working at Microsoft, and I was simply not going to work anywhere else.

    Did you meet some cute foosball-girl looking developer that works there that you just had to work with... at any cost?  Can't think of any other reason to want to work there!  ;)



  • @tster said:

    you still spent about $5000 worth of time there.  pretty rediculous.

    I kind of wonder why you'd care, he did what he wanted to do and used his own time, money and life to do it, damn, and there I thought that the USA were the land of the free.



  • @tster said:

    you still spent about $5000 worth of time there.  pretty rediculous.

    It's easy to point at what you want and say "I want that". What thins the herd is having to put time, money, and effort on the line to get it. Before deciding I was going to go work at Microsoft, I had my last consulting client tell me that either I did business his way or we didn't do business anymore. That was a $96K question in annual revenue.

    So I walked out. There aren't many people who would walk out on nearly six figures over a principle; there are a lot fewer who would do it with a wife, a two year old, and another kid on the way.

    I just happen to think that line separates the leaders from the followers. If you're too scared to walk out on your shit job because you don't know what you'll do instead, you're not really afraid of anything out there. You're afraid that *you* just plain aren't good enough. And as long as you're too afraid to walk out, you're probably right - if you don't have faith in yourself, no employer is going to have faith in you, either.

    Put simply, be where you want to be. If you don't like where you are, go somewhere else. If you're too scared, get over it; it's not going to get any better, and it's likely to get worse.



  • @CDarklock said:

    @tster said:

    you still spent about $5000 worth of time there.  pretty rediculous.

    It's easy to point at what you want and say "I want that". What thins the herd is having to put time, money, and effort on the line to get it. Before deciding I was going to go work at Microsoft, I had my last consulting client tell me that either I did business his way or we didn't do business anymore. That was a $96K question in annual revenue.

    So I walked out. There aren't many people who would walk out on nearly six figures over a principle; there are a lot fewer who would do it with a wife, a two year old, and another kid on the way.

    I just happen to think that line separates the leaders from the followers. If you're too scared to walk out on your shit job because you don't know what you'll do instead, you're not really afraid of anything out there. You're afraid that *you* just plain aren't good enough. And as long as you're too afraid to walk out, you're probably right - if you don't have faith in yourself, no employer is going to have faith in you, either.

    Put simply, be where you want to be. If you don't like where you are, go somewhere else. If you're too scared, get over it; it's not going to get any better, and it's likely to get worse.


    I agree 100% with what you say here, that is excellent advice for anyone who is too risk adverse to move on, yet at the same time unhappy with their current situation.

    The WTF to me is why Microsoft, a company with an enormous amount of resources, would be so ridiculous, and quite frankly, downright mean, by making an individual spend 150 hours of their personal, unpaid time, to secure a contract position.  I know you explained you were going for several positions, and maybe that makes sense, given you might be dealing with different managers and different positions.

    Anyway, good that you set your target and achieved it.  Shame on Microsoft for making you work so hard to get there.


  • It doesn't bother me that he spent that much time.  I just don't believe microsoft would spend that much time.  remember that if he spent 150 hours there they probably spent about 150 hours talking/interviewing/networking and whatever.  that means microsoft would have wasted an enormous amout of resources simply for a contract position.  so what I'm trying to say is that I dno't believe that he actually spent 150 hours there.



  • @CodeRage said:

    The WTF to me is why Microsoft, a company with an enormous amount of resources, would be so ridiculous, and quite frankly, downright mean, by making an individual spend 150 hours of their personal, unpaid time, to secure a contract position.

    I never really viewed it that way. There was a lot of interest in my resume from day one, but you have to connect the dots between what's on paper and what actually translates to real work skills, and that takes time. Even once you identify the skill set you're placing, you still need to find the right general area of the company for that skill set, and then identify a team that will be the best match. 

    Given my experience, they eventually found a position that's a shockingly accurate match - not just in terms of my ability to do the job, but also in maintaining my interest. It's honestly been more than twelve years since I worked a fourteen hour day because I was just too wrapped up in what I was doing to notice.

    So as far as I'm concerned, it was worth every last minute I spent on the interview process, and there have been at least two occasions in the past few months where I've found and handled issues that might otherwise have turned into huge problems - so I'd guess Microsoft is probably happy with the investment, too.



  • "Do the chickens have large tallens?"


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