The Weirdest Interview

I’ve been reading lately about how some interviews for programmers go, and this reminded me of an interview i once did that was funny enough to share.

About a year ago, a friend/relative(who works as a head nurse at a big hospital in Beirut) called me to let me know that their IT department were looking for some programmers. So, being the suspicious type that i am, i asked what was the job about. Being the non-technical type she said that she didn’t know but that the IT director was sick and tired of employing people who are fresh out of college and especially those universities that have recently opened up and seem to think that the successful university is the one that makes the most money.(more about that later if anybody is interested) So he was looking at hiring an AUB or LAU graduate.

So i said OK, and that i can give it a shot and talk to the director. Even if nothing comes out of it, at least i get to make some more contacts and stay up-to-date on the employment opportunities front. Or so I’ve thought.

So i went and met the director and after asking me the typical interview questions and me overwhelming him with my answers(people get impressed because they have no idea what i am talking about and do not admit it nor ask me in fear of showing their ignorance), he started describing his projects and their problems. And i started suggesting ways i can fix it and possible alternatives and so on.

So far so good. I thought that this is going well. So he called one programmer to show me around and show me his “big” datacenter. So i found this as an invaluable opportunity to really know about the different projects and their problems. So this programmer(who’s a very nice guy by the way) started telling me everything about the projects and their “real” problems. Problems that are not technical in nature but are management related.

So after taking a look at his datacenter which was just two racks which went mostly unused. I went back to the director to try to “seal the deal” only to find the director saying goodbye and taking off. And i just stood there wondering what just happened.

I thought that either this person didn’t want me to work for him or that he was incredibly busy. Either way, it was very rude. So i stayed there for another hour or so just chatting with the guys that came to talk to me and introduce themselves. Needless to say, after talking to the guys, my initial excitement at solving their different problems and saving their different projects started fading way.

So knowing the country that i lived in, and typical Lebanese behavior, i didn’t feel insulted and thought it was quite normal. But the weird part comes next. So after a few days of trying to contact the director again to find out what happened and what was the outcome of the interview, the following conversation took place. This is a literal translation.

Me:”Hello. How are you doing? I’ve been trying to contact you for a few days now to find out what the outcome of the interview was.”
Him: “Yes.”
Me:”So what happened, you just went away? I didn’t know, am i going to work there or not?”
Him: “Yes you are. I thought we agreed. You were supposed to come in.”
Me: “Ok, but we didn’t talk about any details.”
Him: “Details like what?”
Me: “Details such as salary and benefits and things like that…”
Him: “Just come in and show us what you’ve got and we’ll see.”
Me: “I can’t just come in and work, we have to agree first.”
Him: “How much do you want?”
Me: “Well, i don’t know what is the fair rate for working at an IT department. But i wouldn’t work with less than $1000/month.”
Him: “I can’t give you $1000/month. I have a guy who is married with two kids that i give $400/month, i can’t give you any more.”
Me: “Well, then how much are you offering?”
Him: “I can give you $600/month. But not just working here, working somewhere else too.”
Me: “Ok. Let me think about it and I’ll call you back.”

Needless to say, i never called him back.