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Tell me your tech interview horror stories

Nočnica Fee
Actually the pug from Dune (1984)
・2 min read

cover image: Interrogation of Joan of Arc by Paul Delaroche

Sharing our experiences with technical interviews can help cultivate a better ecosystem for technical interviews, so what has your experience been? I'd like to hear about the worst you've been through.

I'll go first: my worst tech interviews have been bad for a number of reasons, some of them weren't anyone's fault:

  • I was interviewed for an ops position that I really shouldn't have been up for. When posed with a log-parsing question that required grep, I spent my hour trying to write a node program to do what I needed. I got about 5% done.

  • Interviewing for a Rails role, I did well until it came up that I hadn't heard of a specific Ruby gem, I believe it was Capistrano. I've still never used it.

Other experiences were... easier to point fingers

  • the one that stands out over all the others was for a company doing b2b services with some multimedia servers. It looked a bit old and creaky to me but I went in with a brave heart. At the technical, the lead dev asked me some pointed questions, and it became clear he'd found my blog. Worse he'd read every single post (about 30), looking for stuff to confront me on. At one point I recall him saying 'you mentioned you don't like learning JSX, we use JSX, why are you even interviewing here!'

After the interview he went through my github and accused me of plagarizing my code samples.


Okay, I've shared my worst ones, tell me yours in the comments.

Discussion (4)

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dana94 profile image
Dana Ottaviani

I had to share my screen with 2 interviewers as they gave me directions to code a card game in JavaScript. It wasn't even supposed to run, they just wanted to see how I write code. I wasn't familiar with the card game and had to keep asking them for instructions on how to play and I hesitated to stay silent for too long because they wanted to know what I was doing and why I was doing it.

This kind of interview doesn't allow a developer to struggle in my opinion. I'm going to have instances I need to Google something or just write down my thoughts on paper and that wasn't encouraged.

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nocnica profile image
Nočnica Fee Author

Funny story I was once on the other side of this! I was asking people to code a game of blackjack, and the third candidate had never played the game. For that interview I just stopped and changed the premise, but before that I hadn't really thought about how culturally specific some of my questions and puzzles were.

I'm so glad I don't have to participate in interviews like that anymore!

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trueneu profile image
Pavel Gurkov

For the company, that shall go unnamed, various interviews have been rescheduled 8 times. 1 was my fault and I rescheduled 5 minutes after scheduling.

It came to the point when I would wait near the building for the recruiter to come by for an on-site, only to find out she thought she scheduled for a different date and is sleeping.

Then I waited for 6 months for a reply.
Then I told it to a friend, and she worked there, so she pulled strings.

They decided to do the interview again.

For a different position though. And different career level.

Questions asked were based on how many skill endorsements I have on LinkedIn.

They ignored me when I told them it’s not really relevant to my experience and they’re gonna be disappointed.

Well... In 2 weeks I was tired of waiting the feedback and told this to my friend. She pulled the strings as we were standing next to each other, over IM, to say 1 minute later, that I got rejected.

That’s it. That’s feedback. No apologies. No nothing. The recruiter tried to reach out to me once more.

I rejected.

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trueneu profile image
Pavel Gurkov

Not exactly tech horror, just your general everyday normal cringe interviewing process. :)

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