Interview Rubric really needed?

October 24, 2008

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It's been a few weeks of job hunting and I haven't once had to make a decision that my post on interviewing would've helped resolve. The fact is, you get a feel almost immediately for a place, and the reasons you say "yes" or "no" have more to do with who you'll be working with than the number of monitors you get. Usually, a place that's using ancient COTS products has put up red flags far earlier in the process. And the jobs I get excited about have nothing to do with their use of Git.

Some lowlights:

  • Left waiting for so long, I had to walk out of the interview in order to meet an appointment. The receptionist explained "Well, they have a lot of work to get done!" Good luck with getting it done.
  • A guy giving a tech interview (for a J2EE position) couldn't understand how a Swing front-end to an EJB/JPA backend could possibly be called J2EE.
  • Being asked a logic question and, as soon as I used the right word while thinking out loud (in this case "tree"), was cut off and we moved to the next question. After 10 minutes of this, he walked out without telling me anything about the company or job.
  • Being offered a job after having No technical questions asked of me. Gee, who else is working there?
  • Interviewing in a place where every single aspect of the work environment was crappier than the crappiest house I've ever lived. If I can afford a fresh coat of paint every few years, shouldn't some "global enterprise solution consulting firm" be able to swing it?
  • A Java development shop using....Visual Source Safe. I think cp Foo.java Foo.java.bak might be better
Of course, there's been some legitimate highlights as well:
  • Being asked some challenging questions about concurrency and data structures. You may not ever have to implement a linked-list, but anyone should know it and when I'm asked, it's a definite plus that the people on the other end know what they are doing
  • Being asked to write code. So far, exactly two positions have asked me write code in the interview. Thank god for them, or my faith would be shaken; seriously. I'm always very nervous when I'm applying for a job where I have to write code and no one seems to need any proof that I can do it. It makes me wonder who else is working there
  • Solid explanations of the business or project. I used to think this was a no-brainer, but more often than not, I come away from a second interview with NO IDEA what I'd be doing if I took the job.

Criteria is only useful when you have to narrow down a lot of choices. I'd love to have so many great opportunities that I could just pick the one where I can develop on a Mac, or the one with the nicest office (all other things being equal). Sadly, that is not the case around here. It seems very few of my colleagues are being too particular, and I can't help wondering what effect it might have on, well, the world if clueless developers were not as employable as it seems they are.