CodeSOD: The Final Interview

Gennifer had a job. Her employer got bought out by another company, and the purchaser was notorious for gobbling up companies, taking over their processes, and then doing mass layoffs. Seeing the writing on the wall, Gennifer started job hunting.

Before too long, she had two very likely candidates. The first was Initrode. It wasn't a great match- Gennifer's skills didn't overlap well, and while the salary was respectable, it wasn't as good as the other position, at Initech.

Gennifer interviewed at Initrode first. She did a single round of interviews, and left the interview with an offer. She told them that she'd consider it, but also let them know she was engaged in the recruitment process elsewhere. They understood, but did let her know that they would need a response relatively soon.

The Initech interviews were wildly different. First, she did an hour and a half interview with the head-hunting agency that connected her with the position. That went well, so the next step was an online coding assessment, which she aced. The final round was a remote interview with Initech, sitting in with Bob, Bob, and Bill.

"Great to have you on the call," said the first Bob. "Let's just get right into it."

"Where do you see yourself in five years?" asked the other Bob.

That was a strong opener. What followed were the other typical soft questions: what's your biggest strength, what's your biggest weakness, tell me about a time you had to resolve a conflict, etc.

Then Bill got into it. "Pick up an object on your desk," Bill said. "Pick anything."

Gennifer picked up an eraser and held it in front of the camera.

"Okay, now explain multiple inheritance in C++ using that object."

Gennifer blinked, surprised. "Um, an eraser has the 'remove marks' functionality. A pencil would have the 'make marks' functionality. Some pencils have erasers on the end, so those pencils are also erasers, so we could say that they inherit from both the regular pencil class and the eraser class."

Bill shook his head. "That isn't really the best example."

Gennifer put the eraser down.

"How about this," the other Bob said. "How would you test a coffee mug?"

Gennifer thought that was a better question for an engineer at Pfaltzgraff or a similar company, but she described a series of tests, starting with basic functionality (I can lift it by the handle, I can pour liquid into it) to more stress testing type considerations. That answer they liked.

"What I need you to tell me," Bill said, "is why I should hire you?"

"I mean, you're actively looking for developers, my skills are a perfect match for the position. That seems like a good reason to hire someone."

Bill shook his head. "What I need to know is that you're not going to take this job and leave after several months."

The Bobs nodded. One of them said, "We've had a little problem with retention, lately."

"We think it's millennials," the other said. "They can't really commit to a hard day's work."

"They just take the job, discover they don't like it here, and leave."

"How do we know you're not going to do that to us, too?" Bill asked.

That exchange raised so many red flags that it could have collapsed the USSR all over again. Gennifer replied with a statement about how her job history showed that she tended to stick it out in jobs, and wasn't simply running from job to job as a form of career advancement. They concluded the interview.

"Someone from our office will be in touch in the next two weeks with feedback," the Bobs said.

Gennifer left the interview sure of two things: they didn't want to hire her, and she didn't want to work there. So she wrote up an email, thanking them for their time, but she was going to move forward with a different opportunity. She sent it off and thought that was the end of that.

The headhunter called a few minutes after she hit send. "What are you doing? You can't decline this offer."

"They haven't made an offer," Gennifer said, "and I don't think they're going to."

"Are you kidding? I just got off the phone, and they were raving about you. They think you're great. They definitely want to move forward. They just have a hard interviewing style, everyone walks out thinking they whiffed it. The job is yours."

"Well, I don't think I'm interested."

"Oh, so you're wasting my time, then?" the recruiter said, angrily.

"No- it's just-"

Gennifer didn't want to burn a bridge with the headhunter- in her locale, it was a small industry and everyone knew everyone- so she politely let him rant for nearly an hour about how great the opportunity was, how much Initech wanted her on their team, and how absolutely rude it would be if she didn't take the position. She'd be wasting everyone's time.

"I apologize for my rudeness," she said, "but I have to do what's best for my career. And honestly, if that's their normal interview process, and this is their normal communication style, I don't want to work there. Thank you for your time."

Gennifer now works with Initrode. The headhunter still sends her messages on LinkedIn, suggesting she should reconsider.

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This post originally appeared on The Daily WTF.

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