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Marcell Lipp
Marcell Lipp

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What was your worst job interview?

Hi Everyone,

Normally I'm posting rather articles, but know I'm interested in your opinion and experience.
So this week I attended a job interview at a company for a software developer position. This was a skype interview and somehow it made me a really bad experience.

So what was strange for me, that the interview did not have an introduction round, they didn't ask me for a short introduction or something. They started with a practical task. It was basically an issues problem, but the task was to find the solution which is the most optimal for runtime. And I needed to tell them how I'm thinking step by step. The solution was not trivial, but not so difficult. But I just started to tell them my idea and they just told: "ok, but it's not the most optimal one", so I tried to think in an other way, but they told again "it is still not optimal enough". And to be honest I totaly blocked regarding this issue, I couldn't find the solution, but they just kept asking "ok, but how would you do
it?" etc. So I totally blooded, but they were teasing me 1 hour long and at the end they told "sorry, time is over" and that was the interview.
So of course it was my weakness that I could not find the solution and I can totally understand that they were not choosing me for this position, but I'm feeling really uncomfortable because of two things. First of all I had the feeling, that they were handling me really as a biorobot. They were not really interested in who am I and what's my preference or experience or whatever. On the otherhand I still think, that if I had have 30 minutes alone thinking about this problem I would have been able to find the solution, but not in such a stressed situation. And I really think that I have a good knowledge in the field they are working and I'm feeling upset that they gave me other chance to show it, only this one task.

What do you think about that?

Did you have any similar experience?

And in general I think I have the problem, that if I'm working somewhere I'm usualy getting a good feedback regarding my work from my boss and my colleagues, I'm getting always new opportunities and I can always achieve my tasks, most of the cases without any external support. But everytime when I'm searching for a new job because of any reason after the first round of interviews I'm feeling myself totally stupid and I'm getting so many rejection from different companies . So I really don't know if it's normal or I'm doing something wrong...
Do you have any idea?

Thanks in advance!

Top comments (14)

kaelscion profile image

Man, that totally sucks. First off, be happy you didn't get that job. In my experience, the on-boarding process is usually when companies are the nicest they are going to be. If they were treating you like this before you were even on the payroll, just imagine what they would have been like once they felt like they owned you.

Second, it is my distinct opinion that the folks interviewing you were probably not actual developers themselves. They may have been development managers, Project Managers, or Product Managers, but I really doubt they actually dug into that much code themselves. From what I have found through the years, stating "That is incorrect"/"that is not the best way" means that, even if they are experienced developers, they are pretty closed minded and assume that they have the 100% correct answer to their question that is relevant to 100% of use cases, which is never true of any one person ever. Rather, they should have asked you why you chose the solution you did, what you felt made it the best solution, etc. Working successfully in a technology environment is about collaboration of people with different experiences, points of view, and methods of going about things. Simply saying that you are "wrong" without any feedback as to why or giving you any indication of your answer having any merit shows that they would likely be EXTREMELY resistant to doing anything differently, even if a better way were found at some point.

In my case, I had a job interview at one point. Phone interviews, remote coding challenges, algorithm tests, etc. I went in for an interview in-person for an engineer's position at this small company doing innovative work in ML and AI for shipping companies. The interview went great, the PM and Lead Engineer really seemed to hit it off with me. We had similar backgrounds, even personal interests. At the end of the interview, not only did they give me an offer with the salary they wanted to pay me, confirmed which of their benefits packages I wanted, they even gave me a start date. The next day, they called and asked for some MORE code samples, which I sent promptly. Repeatedly, I inquired as to when I would be receiving the job offer to sign so that I could get my ID badge made and repeatedly, they told me that they were just drawing it up and would send it by the end of the day. After two weeks of this weird stalling, I called and was a little more assertive about where the heck my letter was. They apologized, and I received a letter from them the next day. In summary, the letter said "Sorry if we mislead you and made you think like we had offered you the job, but we actually didn't. We have been considering other candidates and have selected somebody else. We apologize for any miscommunication."

Suffice to say, employers of all shapes and sizes all over the world pull this kind of garbage. Whether your looking to be a Junior Dev or Senior Engineer people will jerk you around. For some reason, companies are against simply saying "no thanks. You just wouldn't be a good fit for out team right now." Jerking you around seems to be part of process. Why it can't just be up-front, tactful (or at least civil), and quick so that we can move on with our job search and lives, I'm not sure. Either way, I feel your pain and hope you can find a company that will appreciate your skillset and viewpoint.

I don't know what country you are from, but know that its a problem all over the world. The "idiot-shaming" and "genius-developer" complex that most companies want is a huge problem everywhere. I have never tried to work in silicon valley, but even in the small tech area that I live in, the superiority complex that any company develops once it hits "unicorn" status is irritating. Image is huge in tech, and everything really. The more "relevant" a company thinks it is, the more arrogant and frustrating it is to interview with them. Professional Sports has figured out that paying a huge sum for one amazing player, then giving peanuts to a bunch of bums is not a recipe for success as it is a team effort to win consistently. Software is exactly the same. The idea of the 10x developer is a bit sad and unrealistic, creates dependence on one person, and limits innovation in a huge way. Keep trucking my friend. You'll get there!

puritanic profile image
Darkø Tasevski • Edited

That really sucks, and honestly, I'm not sure if I would like to work with that people.

I had several interviews this summer, one was a total failure because we had the interview via Google Hangouts and connection seemed to be really bad on their side, they were constantly dropping out and I had to ask them several times to repeat what they've said, after a while I was totally uncomfortable with asking them to repeat again, and I felt like an idiot. They decided to continue the interview despite my comments that the connection is bad and that I don't understand half of the stuff they've said. We've had a short live coding session, and I tried to answer their question as best as I could, but in the end, they've just told me (via email) that they are looking for someone with more seniority. O.o
Two months after that, one of my friends started working for them, and he's been crying ever since :D They are working on a monolith with several technologies mixed in and with a serious tech debt, so I guess that I've missed bullet with that one :)

Another one was with a pretty big Swiss company, and at the first, I've felt kind of negative aura around them, I've passed 3 round of interviews with them and in the end, I had a conversation with their PM and HR who told me that I've overpriced (and it wasn't a big number at all) myself because I got into programming by self-learning, and don't have a degree and that working for them will be big in my CV...
I've just kindly excused myself and said that that's my price and if they don't like it they could've told me one month ago. In the end, they offered me a little smaller amount than I requested but I've already decided to not accept it, because I really don't like that kind of elitism and arrogance to be around me in the office.

In the end, I've accepted to work for another company for a much less money but I will be working with a great team and with a bleeding edge tech, which is, IMHO, much better in the long run.

adeelhuss94 profile image

this man told me that i don't deserve basic minimum wage in my country and that i should be thankful if he even lets me work for free.

adeelhuss94 profile image

i have had hard time applying since then shattered my confidence.

david_j_eddy profile image
David J Eddy

Don't let other control your self worth. We all started somewhere, we all know something others do not, you know something I do not. Always be learning, always be receptive to constructive criticism. But do not ever let another person dictate your self worth.

If that person was that rude to you, it is better to not get involved with them anyway.

Stay positive, you're worth it.

Thread Thread
adeelhuss94 profile image

Thank you.

phantomread profile image
phantomread • Edited

Don't think like that,
Many top talents have been rejected as well.

Interview does not reflect your ability at all, it's simply like a date match.

phantomread profile image

This is not your fault, this is a bad interview + bad company.lucky you didn't get it, this is not a company you want to work for anyway.

From what you've described, this sort of interview falls under the category of brain teasing. Teasing a candidate without giving any hints is pointless, what they should have done is to work through the solution with you together instead of pressing you alone to get the right answer. No one in a work place solves brain teasing/algo problem, what people do most of the time is team work and collaboration, this is actually a fundamental flaw in most of modern technical interview where a candidate is tested against something which is not even close to the company's real work environment.

Next time when you come across a interview like this, ask them why they wouldn't want to provide any hints, what is the objective of the interview and what are you expecting to get out of the candidate.

ladydascalie profile image
Benjamin Cable

First off, really sorry you had to go through that. Personally I think I would have walked out at some point, there's only so much you need to put up with.

My experience is different and perhaps a little more light-hearted. My worst interview, by far, was for the job I currently hold, and it wasn't the company'S fault at all!

I decided to leave early to give myself time to find the place and collect myself, however what I didn't account for was the fact that it was incredibly hot that day, and that walking around in this heat would cause the beginning of a sun-stroke.

When the interview began, everything was going smoothly, but partway through I started feeling dizzy, short of breath etc. I started sluring my words and looking very pale, so I requested we take a short 5 minutes break so I could get my composure back.

I managed to finish the intervew, but went home thinking that I would never get the job. I did get the job. I still work there.

The guy who hired me left maybe a year and a half after that, and admitted that he thought when I requested the break, I would most likely pass out, so he was getting ready to call for an ambulance if needed.

buphmin profile image

Mine is short and wasn't about the interview itself or technical problems so much as the response to my simple break the ice type of question "how do you like working here?" The response I got from one guy interviewing me was a complete look of depression and he got quiet and said "it's ok I guess..." To me that was a hard no.

jfrankcarr profile image
Frank Carr

I've had a few where the interviewer had forgotten they had scheduled the interview so I showed up but the person doing the interview wasn't for some reason.

Most recently during my job search earlier this year I had an interview with a local "cool" tech company. I had multiple phone screens and tests that I passed without any trouble. Finally, I was called in for a face-to-face. During that interview, it became quickly clear that some of the people interviewing me had an issue with my age (late 50's). I was scheduled for a 3 hour interview and was sent on my way within 30 minutes of my arrival.

adeelhuss94 profile image

Thank you.