Here’s one that will surprise non-Americans: after a job interview in the States it is customary to send “thank you” notes to the people who interviewed you. No really! And they have to sound grateful and excited to the point of obsequiousness. In twenty four hours I had three job interviews and so I’m expected to send three sets of thank you messages. After I sent the first one I felt so ridiculous that I couldn’t bear to send another. Luckily, one of the companies had such tedious requirements for new recruits that I asked my poor recruiter to tell them to get stuffed. Boom – no need for a “thank you” there either. In all honesty I was already irritated with them even before we spoke; they had asked me to answer a bunch of vague questions on paper which took about three times as long to complete than if they’d asked me in person. Nonetheless when they called me for a “technical interview” I was quite pleased; at least it showed they had some idea about employing technical people.
But the technical interview actually consisted of a fifteen minute chat during which I was told they were going to ask me to write some software to prove I knew PHP. He briefly outlined the task during the call and it sounded effectively like a “hello world” type application . But then it all went a bit weird.

“When I was asked to do this task I spent about 30 or 40 hours on it”

he told me. I couldn’t believe what he was suggesting.

“But you don’t have to spend anywhere near as long on it.”

he added redundantly. After further questioning I inferred that rather than being a straightforward problem solving exercise I was supposed to use it as a method of writing an extraordinarily bloated piece of bragware that proved I could write OO/MVC code. He also wanted UML diagrams…of this “hello world” type app.

Let me tell you, if I asked a programmer to produce some code that did something simple like that and he even suggested producing a UML diagram, I would dispatch him from my office with a caterpillar boot lodged in his ringpiece…and then I’d invoice him for the missing shoe.

After the call I seriously considered attempting this pointless task until I realised that in fact he could fucking well fuck off and take his fucking stupid attitude with him. It wasn’t like I was applying to Google! This may sound like an overreaction but there were other things about the company and his attitude that, even given my normal lack of discretion, I hesitate to mention here.

Still – I have a second interview lined up with one of the other companies on Tuesday and a technical quiz to undertake for the other this weekend. I don’t mind proving I know what I claim to know, in fact I prefer it as it demonstrates that the company has a clue. But I do object to being asked to spend several hours (it would probably have take around 4 hours if I’d done a decent job of it) jumping through stupid hoops to prove I can bloat code.

One of the companies has an interest in social networks and so, without thinking it through, I mentioned that I’d written a Facebook app. Obviously, they wanted to see it…so I I showed them…Ploppy…
It was a potentially foolhardy gamble, but I think it paid off; I’m still in the running and the feedback to my recruiter was all positive. Even though they’ve seen that I have a sense of humour on a level with an 11 year old boy.

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