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A big company contacts me, without me ever applying to them:

—Hey, you’re awesome! We want you to come work with us!
—Umm, not sure but lets talk about it
—So you’re interested a bit, great! Now you have to study about our history, our statistics, what our CEO likes to eat for breakfast, what kind of underwear our CTO prefers to wear oh, and you have to spend a few hours, preferably days to study everything you did at university and then we'll make you jump through hoops about all this, so that we can see if we really want you.
—…why would I do all that when I’m not even sure I want to work there?
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Iman Haamid's profile photoJulie Ng's profile photoLea Verou's profile photoApostolos Mantes's profile photo
16 comments
 
I guess there's someone at the company, who wants to work with you, but then he's bound by all these corporate procedures, "preferred supplier" approval processes etc.
 
tell them "show me the money" :-) and "will you pay for my time, that I spend on this interview?"
 
Very good point Denis! They expect you to devote tons of hours on their interviews, without being compensated for them at all. So basically, by doing these interviews you lose money.
 
Yes, yes yes and YES. This is why they can't have nice things.
 
Lea, imagine a person good on doing things but bad at explaining them to others and communicating in general. A good interviewer would detect this. Again, not your case but I think you get the idea. In your case, an interviewer could provide you with an HTML page and ask you to comment on correctness, style and might ask to see you make certain changes to it. This may seem trivial for someone like you but the interviewer will confirm your aptitude first hand. Same thing happens to developers who are called to write simple linked list code on their interviews, they are tested for aptitude, not for knowing C functions by heart.

However, if the question "what our CEO likes to eat for breakfast" is not an exaggeration, you probably have your answer there how you should continue.
 
The breakfast part was an exaggeration, but I don't think you realize what kind of technical hoops we're talking about. Definitely not the "comment on this code" kind and much, much longer than what you describe.
 
I skimped over this the first time but just re-read this; the part about the CTO underwear preference funny. I understand companies are trying to protect themselves from the IT pretenders but they are losing out on the good ones too.
 
I think you're missing the "without me ever applying to them" bit.
If it's a job I've applied for, sure, company research is part of my standard procedure.

If it's out of the blue, the prerogative is on you to sell me the position and the company. The interview should be about you confirming my technical ability and getting a feel for my personality.
 
Lea did the job at least line up with what you do for a living. I've had the same kind of emails where I did not apply and the job had nothing to do with what I do for a living.
 
As for the crazy hoops: I'm with you because I royally suck at this kind of interview. And I hate every minute of it. No one writes code on a white board in the real world. If I want to figure out what sort algorithm is best, I can look it up, right? The whole thing is an awkward college oral exam. BUT. I do still value these. They do filter out a lot of bozos. They filter some good people too, but the bozos are way more expensive. And that's before I get into the one time my team let a bozo in and I was the one left with the actual task of getting him out, which could all have been avoided with a modicum of silly hoops (And trust me: terminating a guy twice your age when you're on a visa is far more awkward than watching them struggle at a white board). Never again. But while there is sometimes too much macho nonsense and 'whiteboarding' torture going on in those things, it achieves something important: it creates a basic level of trust between the new team and you that is simply not going to exist if all you had was a one-hour 'tell-me-about-yourself' interview.
 
These companies always have headhunters working for them;
usually after 6 month of contract they get about 10k+ provision for the head (depending who's head it is).
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