Getting an Interview
Getting an Interview
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Contract Ruby On Rails Software Engineer Interview
I applied through other source. The process took a day – interviewed at LinkedIn in January 2012.
A senior engineering VP reached out to me using - of course - LinkedIn itself. He had taken the time to read my profile, venturing a friendly remark about a well-known company at which we'd both worked a couple of decades before. We engaged in a friendly and informative email exchange, and he arranged to call me early the next day. We spoke for about an hour, getting along very well. He asked if I'd be up for a follow-up technical screen the same day with a senior member of his staff; I answered in the affirmative, knowing I'd need to move around a couple of commitments.
So, his direct report contacts me at the appointed time, and almost immediately I experienced a "oh no it's going to be one of _those_ calls" sinking feeling. With no preamble, the guy - a former CS professor from Bulgaria - launched into a series of questions about my day-to-day influences, e.g. "What do you read to keep up with the Rails community?" I truthfully answered, "various Pragmatic Programmers publications, Stack Overflow, Y. Katz's blog," etc., which seemed to satisfy him. OK, fine. He immediately then challenged me how, programmatically, I would go about determining the set of integers between 1 and 100 evenly divisible ("remainder 0") by 3 but not by 9.
Fine: it's going to be one of those "how does this guy think?" questions, which I knocked out quickly. To my confusion, he immediately blurted out, "Wrong... wrong... that doesn't work," which I found a bit unsettling and bizarre. He'd asked me to do the exercise on paper (not how programmers actually work), which I did. Insisting it would work, I mentioned that I should have opened a console window and fired up the interactive irb interpreter, where Ruby programmers often test short exploratory blocks of code. I had done that, and found that my solution actually worked. The guy got hung up on a "thinking out loud" utterance I made at one point, involving the use of the 'yield' keyword, and chose to force us down a conversational cul-de-sac with no productive purpose in mind.
At a certain point, I knew with complete certainty that I would never work with or under this guy, and told him I'd like to terminate the interview. Oddly, he wanted to continue, but by that point I knew that every minute spent in unnecessary combat with my arrogant interlocutor was an additional point of blood pressure increase not worth experiencing.
The high irony of the incident is this: they're trying to staff a team to build out an applicant tracking system, some subsystem of which would, ideally, generate metrics for the effectiveness of interviewers. Sincerest best wishes to them in that endeavor.