Tag Archives: Programming Interviews

A series of interviews with a programming company

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I won’t say who these interviews were with. But, they are a big company in Eastern Europe. I thought they would be the best in the East since they were so large and had such good sales staff. However, the programming staff who were introduced to me were a disaster. The thing to learn here is when to draw the line. Donald Trump knows when to say, “You’re fired,” but sometimes I drag things on far too long.

Interview #1 — an exercise in slowness
My first interview with this company involved a long discussion with a Human Resources Manager. I went over exactly what I was looking for. I explained what type of personality I want, the types of languages the person should be able to program in, etc. What I got was someone who could not answer questions. There was a deep thought process about even very basic questions. I always ask a question about what you would do if you inherited a million dollars. Tech workers normally say they would give it to their family, spend it on education, unspecified stocks, or start an IT business. Someone who can barely conduct a conversation will not do well in an IT business or in any business. Commerce is about communication!

I feel that my mistake was that I talked too long to the manager, and I let the discussion with the slow programmer drag on too far too. I did not make sure they had three programmers to talk to either which is my normal strategy. I rarely like programmers, so if there are choices, the chance of me liking a single one improves a lot. The interview was a failure in so many ways. The candidate was long, the interview lasted over an hour including all of the supplemental discussions, and there was only one applicant. So, we scheduled another meeting.

Interview #2 — inability to do math
I went through the same stupidity in the second interview. I talked too much with the charismatic manager. Then, I got to the programmer who was yet again very awkward and obtuse. How can someone obtuse do a job that is for the most intelligent cut of society? This I will never understand! But, anyway, I asked him how to convert a million dollars into rupees and there was a long silence. I had to help him out by suggesting that he look up exchange rates. He didn’t think of that. Then I asked how to fit a giraffe in a refrigerator and got some very slow and awkward questions. I know how much trouble I got into in the past hiring dummies to do smart work. So, I would just rather not do any work than take any chances. On the other hand, smart programmers are not available to do anything these days, so you have to compromise somewhere. I ended the interview and requested a project manager for the 3rd interview.

I feel that yet again, I spent far too much time gabbing with these people who were in no position to help me. I think I need to have a policy about interviews that the first interview lasts anywhere from 3 minutes to 10 minutes. If I like them then we can talk again later. Normally what I get is sluggishness and garbled English language skills! Once I hear garble, it is time to end the interview!

Interview #3 – inability to communicate
The 3rd interview started with the same waste of time gossiping with the manager. This time I got an expensive project manager whose wage was $70 per hour. But, I could barely understand what he was saying. A project manager’s job is to coordinate and communicate. This guy was a basket case at both. So, I had wasted my time again.

My Question of Where to Draw the Line
How many chances should I give an IT company? No company has purely good employees in my experience except for companies like Google who don’t offer web services to small businesses like mine. I feel compelled to give a few chances to companies, since on average, only 20% of overseas IT workers are up to my minimum standards. But, how many chances should I give? Do I give two chances or three? I think either is acceptable. But, the amount of time I wasted on this company was the real problem. It took more time to coordinate a meeting with someone than it took to talk to that someone. Ten back and forth emails to coordinate a meeting with an incompetent fool. What’s the point? I learned to do my interviews one after the next by phone. I would stay up until midnight, call people up in India and Russia and line the interviews up. If you were slow or missed an interview, you get another chance, but only one other chance. I weeded companies out, but after the weeding, there was only one company in Noida left! Oh well, I guess that is the way things are until something changes!

The moral of the story is that three chances is fine — just make sure each chance doesn’t take longer than a few minutes otherwise you could waste your entire workweek gossiping!