I write alot about interviews and about interviewing people because it's a very important part of work. You can't hire someone without both of those things happening. And there is no standard to the way they run their course. Every company and every individual will conduct it differently. And because of that you're going to end up with a few train wrecks along the way. The following stories are true and they happened to me while I was out looking for that first job.
"Who Are You?"
This actually happened. I got a phone call on a Monday for an interview on the following Tuesday. And when I arrived at the interview I spent about 10 minutes trying to get someone to open the door for me. What happens after is one of the most awkward moments that I've had in life. They had no idea who I was and had no memory of this interview. It was like a movie. I thought just maybe I was being erased by superior beings and this was phase 1. But no, that wasn't the case, unfortunately. The receptionist just forget to tell anyone that I was coming in. And she also forgot to give anyone my resume. Lucky for me I always carry extras for just such an occasion. The interviewer didn't know what to ask and just mumbled across a few random questions that I could tell he made up on the spot. This lasted for about 20 minutes, and the entire time I knew that there was no way I was getting this job. But at least I got a story out of it.
A Part Of The Team
This interview actually started off well. I answered most of the questions correctly and after about 30 minutes, I thought that I was on my way home. Oh how wrong I was. My next task was to kick one of the developers out of their desk, send them off to lunch, while I built a small website. In the middle of 4 other developers hard at work, as they had a build that day apparently. I sat there for about 2 hours, sweating and typing and hoping this guy wouldn't come back anytime soon to claim his workstation back. But how wrong I was. This guy was a fast eater and came back after about 20 minutes, and the entire time I could tell that he was staring at me hoping that I would catch fire so that he could get back to work.
1 Vs 9
This was probably the most nerve racking interview that I've ever had in life. I was fresh out of college and this particular company was looking for a junior developer to join their ranks. I showed up with portfolio in hand, and not a very good one either, just a pages or some class projects and 1 personal site that I had made, which was just static HTML. What happened next was unexpected. I was taken to a pretty large conference room with a round table and told to wait. 2 people entered soon after. Followed by 2 more. Followed by 5 more. Each with a fresh copy of my portfolio that they had picked up walking in to the room. Questions were coming from left and right and center and I had to be entertaining because that's how you get remembered. In total this took about 2 hours. 2 agonizing hours. I did get a second interview, but by that time I had already accepted a position somewhere else. And not a moment too soon.
6 Hours Later...
The thing about interviews is that you have zero control of anything that is going to go on. You get walked into a random room by a random person, and then people who've you've never met will ask you questions that you may or may not have heard of in the past. You go home when they say you go home. At this particular interview I was told that I would be meeting with about 5 people in a 2 day period. However, after the first person was through, I was then told that all 5 people had time that day if I wanted to avoid coming in the next day. And so I agreed. Here's the thing, people sometimes go to lunch, and sometimes they just leave and no one knows where they are. Which is what ended up happening shortly after I agreed to this. I came in at 10am and went home around 4pm exhausted and afraid of life. Each person on that interview list went missing somehow throughout the day, while I waited in the tiniest room in the world. But on the plus side, I got the job and lived happily ever after. Sort of.
Interviews are tough, and they can haunt you years after they're over. And all you can do is put a smile on your face and plow through it until it ends and you go home, or you black out half way through and wake up at home somehow. These are just a few of the worst interviews that I've had. There's plenty more in the timeline, and there will continue to be plenty more in the future, because that's just the way they work.
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Walter Guevara is a Computer Scientist, software engineer, startup founder and currently mentors for a coding bootcamp. He has been creating software for the past 15 years.