Interview experience you won’t forget

Jun 3, 2018 18 Comments

Triggered by a similar earlier post. Want to share you folks an interview I still remember vividly. Welcome to share yours, good or bad.

About 15-16 years ago, the Bay Area was not the Bay Area today, depressed and lots of office buildings vacant. Alarmed by a few rounds of layoffs in my company, I decided to try other companies.

Certainly as you would imagine, not easy for one to even get any interview, let alone landing a job. That was the day before google style or leetcode ruling the Bay. No phone call or pre-screening. You sent a resume and waited for email response.

One day I got this email and asked me to show up at certain time in a certain address. It was a no-name company and till today I could not recall the company name. Heck I even do not recall what the company was doing.

Being always punctual, I showed up at 11AM. No recruiter greeted me. Waited in the lobby for 15 min, a grey-hair tired-looking guy came out of the glassdoor and escorted me into a conference room. We passed a large hall with lots lots of cubicles and it appeared almost all empty, ghost-like mini town.

We talked for about 15 minute, background, project, etc. Then he showed me a stack of prints, and said: here are the interview questions. You have 1.5 hours to finish. I will be back at 1PM to take your answers. Then he disappeared.

The prints are about 5-6 pages, just like you taking exams. A small percent of question are multi-choice. Some are knowledge questions for you to write and explain. Then there are 3 algorithm questions that you need to write code.

I do not think I did that well, but I managed to finish it in 1.5 hours. Then I waited in the room, but the guy did not show up. I waited and waited. I was very hungry and thirsty. I stepped out of the room trying to find anybody in the hall, but nobody — a ghost mini-town.

At about 2PM, the guy showed up. No apology or explanation what is going on. He fetched the exam paper, said “thank you. That is it for today.” No chance to me to ask any questions and escorted me out.

I never heard anything back from the company afterwards.

I still could not figure out why they want to give me an interview.

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TOP 18 Comments
  • Microsoft mathcamp
    Had to stop the interviewer to go poop in the middle of an interview. Even though I didn’t get the job, it’s still the best decision ever made in an interview.
    Jun 3, 2018 0
  • New / Eng michalumni
    Nice, you may have just taken that guys take home final for him, I hope he (you) aced the class.
    Jun 3, 2018 0
  • Amazon / Eng
    KGvK44

    Amazon Eng

    PRE
    Microsoft
    KGvK44more
    At Uber: Guy asked me "What is the big O of a hash map insert?" My reply "The academic answer is O(1). However in reality it's O(n) because there may be collisions and it depends on the type of collision mitigation you use." He replied "Which is it? Do you even know what you're talking about?"

    Microsoft: Aced the first 4 out of the 5 interviews. Had to take a shuttle to meet the director/AA. At that point my energy drink had run out and I was tired. My mistake was telling him that. He asked me a question and I was slow. He then said "ok my worst engineers could do this in their sleep, I'm going to leave for 10 minutes and you'd better have it done when I get back." The recruiter later told me "Never tell a director you're tired, we want people to be energized by what they do!"

    Apple: I asked "What is Apple's policy on switching teams?" In a tone that sounded like Mr. Smith from the matrix: "People here are passionate about what they do, and if you're passionate about what you do, why would you want to be anywhere else? We don't really do switching teams."

    LinkedIn: The room was already set up for me with a "Welcome to LinkedIn [name]!" and a goodie bag containing my account's social graph visualized. I left that interview with more energy than I came in with.
    Jun 3, 2018 7
    • Amazon / Eng
      KGvK44

      Amazon Eng

      PRE
      Microsoft
      KGvK44more
      At the time I was younger and more naive and concerns around privacy weren't as top of mind. In hindsight, yes, it was a little like Oblivia from Katy Perry's music video. A perfect bubble, don't pop it!
      Jun 3, 2018
    • >in reality it's O(n)

      Wat
      Jun 3, 2018
  • "Do you know C#?" "Not really" "Well, you're hired anyways"

    Pre-2008 was pretty sweet.
    Jun 3, 2018 1
    • New / Eng
      Luffy, M.D

      New Eng

      PRE
      Facebook
      BIO
      Prematurely grumpy old man
      Luffy, M.Dmore
      1999 was pretty sweet too. "Know Java?" "No." "Want to learn while you clean up some Perl CGI nobody left here understands?" "Ummm, why not?" "You're hired."
      Jun 3, 2018
  • AppDynamics SYDR66
    Horrible
    Jun 3, 2018 0
  • Twitter Bit505
    Getting interviewed on a bench in South Park.

    Goldman Sachs was different than regular tech office, it was interesting.
    Jun 3, 2018 2
    • New / Eng michalumni
      Nice, how was the bench interview, what company?
      Jun 3, 2018
    • Twitter Bit505
      Some startup that was going to become the next LinkedIn. Didn't.
      Jun 3, 2018
  • New XwFm74
    “About 15-16 years ago, the Bay Area was not the Bay Area today,” I contracted cancer from this sentence.
    Jun 3, 2018 0
  • New / Eng
    Luffy, M.D

    New Eng

    PRE
    Facebook
    BIO
    Prematurely grumpy old man
    Luffy, M.Dmore
    My worst interview ever was the director who was sure he knew more than I did about what I'd just spent three years doing at 20-100x the scale. "How would you send 10,000 emails a day?"
    "Well, from your prior three questions, I know you want me to say thread pool, but that's basically within what one connection and a single copy of qmail or postfix can do, and building your own MTA is something you do* for millions a day not tens of thousands."

    Went down hill from there.

    (* More than ten years ago.)
    Jun 3, 2018 0

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