Programmer job interviews - the shits and giggles

May 21, 2017

[HEADS UP: I won't be playing "naming and shaming". No company names here, just shits and giggles!]

During the whole last years, I was a WPF developer at Vicoinz. A project I joined in its infancy, and developed from "oh damn, we have nothing" to "it's the best damn automated HearthStone tournament system". We started out in Zagreb, got an investment, moved to Poland for a year. When I realized that it'll soon be done (a.k.a. app will work, and it's time for marketing/sales to take over) I started looking for new challenges and started doing job interviews.

IT Recruiters - trying to stay cool

So one of my first interviews happened in Stockholm and the position was "WPF developer". I was excited because I really love Sweden, and the job was a perfect fit. There was no way I could fail this one. We start talking, we laughed a lot, and at some point, the recruiter admitted she is just a headhunter with no extensive programming knowledge, but the tech team gave her instructions what to look for.

The first argument we got into was "Windows Phone" vs. "Windows Forms". Part of my work experience is developing Windows Phone applications, and I did that for roughly 3 years as a side gig. Love the platform, tooling, and generally, writing clean XAML. But the recruiter didn't know what a "Windows Phone" is, for her it's all a "Smartphone" and to quote her: "the tech team told me, Windows Forms experience doesn't count for the WPF position". She was confusing Windows Phones with Windows Forms, and there was no way in hell I could convince her I have almost no experience with Windows Forms, and that my 3 years of Windows Phone dev. experience should count because it's pretty much the same stack as WPF.

I even fired up VisualStudio, created 3 projects, trying to show her that in 2 projects (WPF and Windows Phone) you define the UI with XAML, and the 3rd being Windows Forms, well, was completely different. She nodded like "sure thing kiddo" and asked me if I had any other relevant experience.

This is when the interview gets super funny. I told her "Yeah, I published a Xamarin application, was working on it for 6 months". She looked weird at me and asked "What? You made a SUBMARINE?!"

At that point I had no energy explaining what Xamarin.Forms are. I gave up, we chatted a little more, I spent a fun day in Stockholm and went back home knowing I wouldn't get the job.

Relocation from hell

I wasn't interviewing for some time after that, was still busy with Vicoinz, but then I got an offer from Germany I just couldn't ignore. Someone was searching for a Windows Store (UWP) developer. What a dream position.

First part went super smooth. I got a tech assignment, that was easy as well. In the end they congratulated me. One more guy and me got into the final stage. We were invited for a 3 month probation period, after which they would pick one to fill the full time position.

No compensation for relocating, no real salary during those 3 months. I wasn't in the mood to waste 3 months of my life, competing with another guy at the office, wasting my own money, just for a shot at the job. This was the shittiest "final stage" I have ever seen. If you are an IT recruiter reading this, and you are playing with the thought of contacting me. If you have an offer like this, delete me from LinkedIn, mark my e-mail address as spam, block my phone number. For your own good...

Full stack nightmare

There were more interviews in the mean time, some more and some less spectacular. Eventually this one company, I've heard about 2-3 years ago, contacted me on Linked in. It was in my hometown, Zagreb in Croatia. Wasn't really excited of moving back there, but it was one of three companies I considered returning home for.

I went to their offices for the first part, they seemed as cool as the project they were working on. They were looking for a Junior .Net developer (MVC related project) and I was like "screw it, I'll learn a lot, haven't done much MVC anyway, junior sounds good!".

For a junior position I'd expect a task like "add a new controller and 2-3 views to this project". But nope, I had to do a project from scratch and it had to use MySQL instead MSSQL as a database (not a real problem, but junior task?) and it had to have both normal MVC controllers and WebAPI methods.

I mad an N-Layer style project (.DAL project for DB access, .Core for business logic and .Web (MVC) sitting on top). I made a detailed README.md to tell em what else I'd improve, and at first they responded with "solution looks good, you're going to stage 3".

Stage 3 of their interview was a clusterfuck of "personality test", "english language", "linguistic logic" and "abstract thinking".

The personality test had statements and I had to answer them with "Correct" or "Incorrect". Some of the highlights: "I love standing while the national anthem plays" ... like, whatthefuck? Yeah sure I stand while it plays before hockey games or during events. Do I feel some pride? Perhaps... do I LOVE standing? Huh, for someone whose "linguistic logic" test was a mental game of using and abusing the Croatian language, they sure throw the word LOVE easily around.

I let the timer expire, dodging the question, not picking neither correct nor incorrect.

Then even more bizarre questions started popping up. "I believe there's only one correct religion." Like, are you fucking shitting me? RELIGION? Please, don't even...

In the mean time, I got an e-mail I had to improve my tech solution. Suggestions for improvement were pretty much a copy paste of what I've written in the README.md file. At that point I was like "Junior .Net position? Fuck this shit, fuck you, your junior tech assignment, your retarded 250+ questions personality/IQ/language clusterfuck tests... I'm not participating anymore".

I wrote a nice e-mail notifying them I won't do anything else, if they don't know after all this if I'm a good hire or not, they won't ever know no matter how many more tests they give me. Ofc. I didn't get the job.

How I got recruited

As I said, this is just a little sample of all the shits and giggles I went through in 6 months. In the end I got recruited by Telegra as a .Net developer. Tech interview with interesting questions, medical check and a talk with a real psychologist. No HR people doing tech questions, no HR students who "went to a conference and created personality tests". It was truly a pleasure going through all parts, even the company walkthrough, with demos of all the tech they develop, was awesome.

I might write a followup post with more funny situations I was in during interviews, but these are just the best examples of what recruiters shouldn't do under any circumstances if they want to hire good programmers.

In the end I felt like a dolphin jumping through hoops set on fire, being there just for the entertainment of the recruiters, with no real intention of giving me a job. And not just me, no one. Some of the jobs I interviewed for are "still up for grabs" even after 4-5 months.