Blessed are the Geeks, for they shall internet the earth

Worse Job Interviews

Interviewing for a job is a skill more important than the craft for which you are applying. Just like you, I’ve had good interviews, bad interviews and some strange ones. The job I have now was a strange one. While in the middle of my interview the owner came in, he was introduced as a doctor and he said out of the clear blue,

“Do you know that doctors can prescribe drugs to themselves?” 

As those that read this site my already have determined I’m not a well man, I said without thinking,

“You’re on drugs right now aren’t you, sir.” Fortunately he is a man with a good since of humor otherwise I wouldn’t have gotten the job. But not every interview I’m been on has gone so well.

The Insurance Company:

Once I interviewed with an insurance company around the Puget Sound area in Washington State, only later while telling this same story did I discover this company had a particularly bad reputation for abusiveness with their employees. I won’t mention their name because they already know they know who they are.

There were two interviewers, one a female accountant, the company controller I believe and the other was a computer consultant that they used quiet frequently. The two were straitlaced, rigid and very serious. I won’t bore you with the entire dialog; just the highlights that made it so memorable.

Typically during an interview I would be taken to the server room and asked to identify all of its components. Instead I was taken around and introduced to some of the key managers. It was obvious to why there was no network administrator on staff as they were all rude arrogant and each one had something nasty to say. The female accountant then took me to an empty cubical were the computer consultant met us and they began asking their questions. After a few brief questions about my resume she asked, 

     “So, how do you react to people screaming in your face?”

     I blinked a couple of times and asked, “You mean someone screaming in my face because they have an auditory problem, or someone screaming in my face because they have an attitude problem?” I already knowing the answer I was just buying time for something intelligent to say. Unfortunately nothing immediately came to mind like I had hoped.

   “Let’s say for the sake of argument the last one; someone with an attitude problem.” She said.

  What made this interview easier than most was the fact that I already had a job so with a strait face I looked directly into her eyes and answered,

     “Ms, I’ve been waiting my whole life for someone to yell in my face.” I almost couldn’t hold my seriousness.

    There was a brief moment of nervous silence when the contractor asked;

   “If you were to rate your NT skills from say, 1 to 10, how would you rate yours?”

   This was the last question, the question that ended the interview.

    I answered a seven. I thought seven was a more realistic answer than someone saying 9 or 10. Although looking back I was really a 3 or 4. Immediately the man said,

   “I’m sorry we’re looking for a 10.”

   I said that I’ve never met a 10 before.

   “I have.” He quickly interjected.

   I stood and replied, unless you’re talking about a 9 that swallows, I don’t think you have.”

   To my surprise the female accountant burst into laughter. Her laugh was so sudden and loud you would have thought she was just stabbed. Encouraged by her reaction I slid my arms in my jacket sleeves and then into my pocket and removed my card. I tossed it on the table where they were still sitting and added,

   “Give me a call when you find that person. I’d like to see a 10 that would work in this place.” And then I walked out, the only one smiling in the entire building I think.

   Unlike most people that walk away from a situation and tell themselves later that they wish they would have said this or that, I always wish I didn’t say anything.

Orange Badge Head Hunter:

There are two types of workers at the Redmond Microsoft campus; Orange badges and Blue badges. Blue badges are permanent employees where Orange badges are contractors or temporary employees. This particular company I was interviewing with supplied technical staff to Microsoft.

While waiting in the lobby for a long time, a man finally entered and escorted me into a small room with two computers and a printer. He told me that I would first have to take a technical knowledge test before the interview. He said me down, entered my name and a test popped up. He then left me to it. The test was simple, I cut through it pretty fast and my score was in the mid nineties. I waited for a bit and then wandered out into the outer office. Someone found me walked me back in and told me I was suppose to take the test. I explained that I did. He looked in the printer and said,

    “Than why didn’t it print?”

    I smiled and said that I didn’t know. He made me take the test again. I did and scored even a higher test, as the questions were the same. Still nothing printed. I told them my score but he looked at me as if he didn’t believe me. My next stop was to the office of the man that would interview me.

    “You know…” he looked down at my resume. “I’m a little concerned that you didn’t want to take the technical test, it is a requirement before I can even speak with you?”

    I explained that I didn’t take the test—twice and told him my score—he didn’t seem to believe me either. So not only did I have to take the test twice, but also I didn’t even get credit for the high scores.

   He then told me about the company and how unlike other companies that contract with Microsoft, their employees weren’t contractors. I would work as permanent for them.

   “So I wouldn’t work under a contract, I would work directly for your company?” I asked.

   “That’s right. ”

   “So if my assigned project at Microsoft ran out, I would still draw a paycheck from you until I was reassigned because I was a permanent employee of this company?”

   “Not exactly.” He replied. “We would have to find you another position before we could pay you again.”

   “Ah, but isn’t that what contractors do?” I asked

   “Yes, but contractors don’t get insurance benefits.”

   “Oh, so you pay for your employees medical benefits? That’s cool.” I said.

   “Well, not exactly. You have to pay for your own benefits, we only provided the underwriter.”

   “But you take it out of our checks.” I asked.

   “No, you have to take care of all of that yourself.” He answered.

   “I see.”

   He then proceeded in asking me a series of odd questions:

   “If you were to work with us and another company were to offer you more money to come to work for them, would you do it?” he asked.

   At first I thought he was kidding, but he just looked at me waiting for an answer. I sighed, thought for a moment and asked,

   “If someone were to offer you more money to leave this place, including benefits, would you do it?”

   “No I wouldn’t.” he said with a strait face. “You see, were looking for people that will stay loyal so we can stay competitive. Because Microsoft doesn’t pay us that much for our people so we need people we can count on.” (I swear, this is from an actual interview.)

   “But don’t you think you would owe it to your family to get the best paying job with benefits you could for their sake?” I asked.

   “I don’t look at it like that Doug, and I don’t think my family does either. Loyalty means a lot to me and my family.”

   Often when I laugh, I do it so sudden and so loud that I startle people, as I did in this case as well. I thought the idiot was kidding.

   “You don’t really have a family there, Bob, to you?”

   “That’s not really the point here. My question is to you and what you would do.” He said as he continued to stare at me stilling waited for an answer.

   “Well, gee Bob.” I replied. “I would stay here as a contractor for less money.

    He then said, “You know Doug, either you are the most relaxed people that I’ve ever met or you have no intention work with us?”

   I smiled because he was correct with both.

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A Career in Computers

The Information Technology Survival Guide -- Douglas Chick


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