A company which is not a cultural good fit for you, and the employees thereof, can still be very valuable allies. I would not act to antagonize them absent substantial provocation. Not being like you is not a substantial provocation. Most people in the world will, after all, not be like you, and you'll end up not working for approximately all companies in the industry. That's OK.
You've already got the day blocked off in your calendar. Smile. Firm handshakes. Thank them for taking the time to interview you. Heck, they're giving you free live-fire practice for your next interview, make the most out of it. You should never say a word of criticism about the company to anyone but your primary point of contact and you should be darn circumspect with how you word it to him. (I like something along the general lines of "Thanks for your time and allowing me to get to know $FOO_CORP better. We're really in the same boat: I only want to work at employers where I'd do my best work, and you only want to hire people who'd do great things at $FOO_CORP. Having had the opportunity to hear you guys out a bit more, I don't think we're a great mutual fit. I will keep my ears open for you in case any of my friends would be a good fit for your position.")
What really surprised me was that the OP's candidate was a referral. It's one thing to risk burning your own bridges, but it's completely inconsiderate to possibly tarnish the reputation of someone who spoke up on your behalf. Speaking for myself, unless this was a close personal friend, I would be very reluctant to ever subsequently recommend this individual again.
Without delving into anecdotes, I've witnessed a scenario quite similar to this one. A candidate who was referred (as a "rockstar") struggled with the technical interview, and subsequently walked out. It goes without saying how he, and to a lesser extent the individual who referred him, were viewed in the aftermath.
TLDR; Please don't do this. It's completely unnecessary and possibly inconsiderate.
As an interviewer, I'd have a higher opinion of someone willing to cut an interview short if they realise it's not really going to end well and as a candidate, as long as the company hasn't spent money to fly me out somewhere or something, it's an option I like having on the table for an all-day interview since there's not much point in tiring oneself out if it's not going anywhere.
That is certainly not the impression I got from reading the OP :
"At one point when he was asked to move to another conference room he decided he had enough and said that he was done with the interview and wanted to leave."
"When he went to leave the lead jumped into the elevator with him and asked him why he didn't want to continue"
We're forced to interpret a 2nd hand retelling of the events, but everything points to this individual leaving relatively abruptly. Why else would someone feel the need to run after him into the elevator?
Assume that the candidate did give something closer to my latter statement. Perhaps the lead wanted a better explanation of what made the fit so poor. Perhaps the lead actually could not comprehend anyone not wanting to work there. Perhaps the lead didn't believe the explanation given. Any of these could feasibly lead to the same account we're given, as could simply leaving abruptly or literally saying "fuck you, fuck this, fuck everything".
However, my point is simply that based on the only available account we have, there's nothing to indicate this candidate was particularly diplomatic.
"I'm sorry but I don't think it's worth both of our times to continue. I just don't think I'd be a good fit here. It's nothing wrong with you or me, it's just that we don't have the same vision on some things. I really appreciate the opportunity, etc."
If the guy had three hours of interviews already and 3-4 more in the afternoon were planned, plus a lunch, I don't see the problem. It's very easy to end up doing interviews and realizing that the position is not what you had in mind: maybe there's more travel, less hands-on, you'd be working by yourself on the project, etc. You can often easily tell that's not what you're looking for.
Of course, I wouldn't leave in the middle of an hour-long interview and I wouldn't give the impression that I'm rushing out either.
We can be almost certain this is not what he said, because the lead had to run after him and ask him why he was leaving. It's really quite challenging to leave unexpectedly without giving an explanation and leave a pilot impression: "Thanks but I gotta go" doesn't cut it when you clearly already booked the whole day for the interview.
More to the point, however, is that I was presenting a spectrum, with the-only-thing-worse-is-to-bomb-the-office bad on one end and about-as-well-as-leaving-early-can-end-without-bribing-everyone good on the other end and suggesting that bridges would really only expect to be burned near the worse end of the spectrum.
Or, even more of a key point, we only have a fragment of a second-hand telling of a single account of an interaction that really doesn't mean a whole lot and yet people still see the need to take sides and attack one party or the other from this position. This is so many levels of ridiculous that I couldn't help but try to inject some perspective.
I don't understand the deferential view towards the company doing the interview, as if a company itself could never be considered rude, myopic, inconsiderate or wrong.
Also it doesn't sound like a referral (the OP doesn't work there), just a recommendation of the candidate's skills and experience.
If you live in a big city and apply for positions to a broad set of industries, there's a decent chance you'll never encounter anyone you've had a bad experience with. If you're focused on working in a smaller community/field, then you do have to spend more time managing your reputation.
>> When in doubt, don't burn bridges. Don't be rude. Don't be a Prima Donna.
I have a different piece of advice:
Always be professional, polite and respectful. If you've acted appropriately and people are still offended or outraged, then that's really their problem.
>> Someday the tech economy will be very different, ask anyone who lived through 2000 - 2003, when a lot of people had to get out of the industry because there were NO JOBS.
I lived through that bubble, I don't know that it's really that different.
Is economy being different ten years ago valid reason to pretend that you like what you don't really like, waste time and engage in ass-licking? Because, you know, thing may turn up differently someday?
But are you seriously condemning being polite? Just be a decent human being, don't act like you're better than everyone while ditching an interview.
Maybe this guy is such a super genius that everybody will forgive him for being a socially ignorant ass. Those of us mere mortals though should probably learn to be at least a little considerate and not burn bridges wherever we go. People are not robots - they don't like being treated as such even if it is "logical."
If you consider making up a white lie about a sick relative or pulling one person aside and very politely saying this isn't for you 'ass-licking' - then sure, sometimes you need to lick some ass. Most people just consider that kind of behavior part of being a civilized human being though.
It's too vague to be helpful. For example, the "dogmatic principles" criticism. The interviewers could have asked "Is security a good thing?", and he could have answered "No". Or the interviewers could have asked a silly question like "Tabs or spaces?" and berated him for answer answering "Spaces". Context is absolutely important.
And if we take the story as truthful, he just went up and said he's done with the interview, without explaining the reason to the room. He pretty clearly didn't explain to the room that he did not feel that he was a good fit, and did not want to further waste anyone's time. That's the only logical explanation for why the lead had to track him down in the elevator, to understand why the interviewee decided to end it.
This is such a great point. You never know when you might need some help from someone or a favor from a buddy. I can say I double clutched a few times on burning a bridge or two and I always find out later I'm glad I didn't.
Remember, companies need employees just like employees need companies. It's a two-way street.
And some of them may well have far more respect for the guy leaving when he knows he's not going to fit in than staying and 'wasting everyone's time'.
It doesn't sound to me like he was rude or prima-donna-ish. But then we are only getting one side.
I think that if you conclude that the company is not for you, and you feel that the interviewers have been less-than-nice, you are saving everyone otherwise-wasted-time by leaving early. I don't see how you are under any obligation to go through the motions in a process where you do not want a successful outcome. It's not rude to realize the company is not a good fit for you and save time.
In fact, why should any interviewer be offended with a candidate who has made this decision and leaves early? They've already decided they will not accept any offer from you. The only reason to be offended is if you cannot fathom than anyone would not want to work for you.
Your ability to "burn bridges", so to speak depends on how small the hiring community is and where you are in your career.
Myself, I've gotten all of my jobs in the past decade by referral/reputation. I don't have a mortgage to worry about, etc., and I live in a big city so the notion of "burning bridges" isn't as big a deal as it might be for someone starting out. If you burn a bridge for doing something that is justified, and you do it politely and professionally, so be it.
It is quite possible to terminate an interview politely and professionally, and most of my peers (including myself) who have gone through the hiring cycle actually appreciate it when someone cuts it short, because most of us want to spend time recruiting people who actually want to work with us. I'd actually respect that candidate even more, to be honest.
>> What really surprised me was that the OP's candidate was a referral.
This is one area where you generally need to go through all of the motions, even if it's painful - I'm willing to allow my own bridges to burn, but I would never burn someone else's bridge. I've had an interview like that before, and had I not gone in under someone else's word, I would have cut short the interview as politely and professionally as possible.
Having said that, it is worth noting that the OP recommended the person because they were a "no-nonsense" kind of person. They can't regret referring that person for demonstrating the exact behavior that got the referral in the first place.
Having a blanket policy on not walking out of interviews is ridiculous. The manner in which one walks out makes all the difference. The rockstar you mentioned probably walked out the wrong way. Namely sulking, pouting and not saying anything. The right way is to be polite, clear and concise. It's exactly what the company does when they think it's not working out.
Think about this from an employer's perspective. Someone cutting the interview short actually piques my interest. This is especially true if they pass all the technical interviews. I'd probably follow-up with them and see if they were interested in contract or part-time work. On the other hand I don't look too highly upon candidates that just sit through all the interviews by default. I want someone who will speak up, be confident etc.
So consider the possibility that you are assigning people to 'constantly combative' when you simply don't like their smart and inventive ideas and healthy arguments. Perhaps one healthy argument too far hurts your ego and becomes 'constant combat' without being any less healthy in reality.
That incentive structure is all it takes to make a whole dept. or whole company act in an essentially delusional and inwardly-focused way.
This is no different but reversed in "favor" of the candidate.
All-day interviews can be draining/horrible experiences, especially when it has sunk in that you aren't getting the position, don't fit in and so on.
I don't think any of us can actually say if any bridges were burned or not, unless we were there. Ending an interview early is not - by default - an instance of "burning a bridge". It the situation is handled courteously and gracefully, no harm is done unless the person on the other side is a huge asshole. And if they are a huge asshole anyway, there's no point worrying about the bridge.
Nothing indicates that the person did anything to antogonise other than requesting to end the interview due to his perspective on the company changing. For all we know, his request to terminate the interview was a polite one.
If an individual or organisation considers this antagonistic then I would argue that they are an ally not worth having.
Whilst I understand your point about 'heck you've got nothing to lose by putting up with it for a few hours', I would argue that day long interviews are a massive drain on energy and time and in this industry both are immensely valuable to a developer. Whilst this may be a shock to an organisation who are obviously not accustomed to individuals standing up to them, decent organisations would learn from this and possibly review their interview process.
A developer sitting throughout the interview and providing polite feedback afterwards on why they won't be pursuing the role would be lost in the noise and most of the people who need to understand their motivation won't even hear it.
I think the developer did the right thing.
I've interviewed people who, though they stayed the whole interview, ultimately declined the position. I still have much respect for them because I could see that they are capable and motivated, and were I to encounter them again (which is likely in this industry), I'd be more than willing to put in a good word for them if it would help. Now if someone had up and left halfway through? Well, human nature and emotions are tricky things. Are they within their rights? Of course. Will it strike at my ego or make me feel rejection? Absolutely. Will it form a low level resentment, no matter how minute? Unfortunately, yes. Anyone saying otherwise is simply deceiving themselves. Am I in the wrong for this? Yes, but it happens anyway.
You're dealing with humans, not machines. Maximize your advantages by being polite and civil and bending a bit even when you don't have to. It's a small world in tech.
Absolutely. Having said that, everyone should have a sensible threshold at which they stop bending.
>> It's a small world in tech.
It really depends on whether you're trying to keep your employment in a specific category (i.e., SF Web Startups) vs. a tech job in any industry in a large city. In the latter scenario, there's actually a good chance you won't encounter anybody you've met in your "previous work lives".
It's not about drawing a line in the sand. We're not talking about "fair" here. We're talking about human social nature, and all the quirks that come with it.
There are ways to gracefully exit partway through an interview, I'm sure. But it's much more perilous than is a polite, distanced rejection after a short cooling off period. YMMV.
From the OP:
>> I gave him the highest recommendation having worked with him in the past as a no-nonsense guy that cuts through the bull and tackles real problems directly.
What he did sounds completely within character and it sounds like he did it rather diplomatically.
I've never had that happen to me while hiring but I would respect the person even more for telling me it wasn't a fit and reducing the amount of person days it was taking to recruit someone who didn't want to work for my company.
1) He was criticized as being wrong for not following very dogmatic principles to the letter of the law.
2) He was also concerned that nobody really seemed to care much about his relevant business experience and really only judged him intensely on his programming skills, which he felt was only one aspect of his software development experience.
3) It was an open floor plan where everybody wore jeans, t-shirts and sandals.
4) The vast majority were in their early 20's with the oldest person and lead developer being 30.
5) They expected him to be involved in side projects and code for fun when he wasn't in the office.
Which of these are really abuse? Only #1 seems in any way negative, and that sounds more like a slightly bad interviewer than any sort of abuse. Honestly it seems like the OP felt that he was interviewing poorly and decided to walk out instead of being rejected. Now that's a perfectly natural human response; everyone wants to be in control of their own destiny.
But is it a professional response to some sort of abuse? No, it doesn't really seem like it.
0) It was an all day interview where everybody was given chances to grill him.
Personally I wouldn't consider that abuse either. IMHO a good interview is supposed to be hard. How else can you differentiate good candidates from bad? Perhaps others disagree.
I'm not saying this was a problem with the interview described as there isn't enough detail in the original post to say what happened really.
Plus, it was a one-day interview. I've been in job-interviews like this one, where mid-way through the whole thing I was realizing that I would not be a good fit for them, but in my case I could afford to be patient because the interview wasn't going to last more than a couple of hours anyway. But a one-day thingie where for at least 6 hours I would be reminded of me not being worthy for the guys trying to hire me would utterly depress me. I'm scared shitless of depression (pardon my French), so I'd just run away.
And a second thing. Once you get through more things in life which a 20-something man hasn't confronted yet (divorce, leaving your parents behind etc.) you begin to value honest no-bullshit decisions like this one. There's no gain in playing actors.
I think that that's the main reason that it matters that all these guys were in their 20's. I wonder if any have had kids, a family, anything that's more important to them than their work. If I were slated to interview at a company for an entire day, and I knew for certain that I wouldn't be joining them after only a couple of hours, I would without a doubt make the decision to go home to be with my kids.
One thing I would do that this gentleman did not do, however, would be to speak to the principal about my concerns alone before walking out. Seriously, he forced the guy to follow him to the elevator to get an explanation. That's terribly insulting, regardless of the situation. Give the guy a chance to prove your impressions wrong.
If I had 3 person-days of top developer attention aimed at me over the next six hours, I'd make the most of it. I'd find out exactly what it takes to succeed at that company, and if I really wanted to work there, I'd go home and learn those things better.
I've been on interview loops before and if it's clear that it's not a good fit we cut the loop short (sometimes by the third/fourth interviewer). This cuts both ways - there's no point in dragging the process out for both sides if it's clear what the resolution is going to be.
Yes of course. But what specifically in this story do you think constitutes abuse? The situation could at worst be described as a lack of tact by some of the interviewers. If your bar for abuse is that low, you're going to have a bad time in this industry. Or any industry for that matter! Pulling the ripcord because, surprise, a few 20-something engineers don't have flawless social skills is simply a mistake. Far better to figure out how to navigate the situation to mutual advantage, as Patrick's straightforward algorithm demonstrates.
It shouldn't be like that. Tech industry must grow up.
The only remotely questionable thing in that entire account was a criticism for "not following very dogmatic principles to the letter of the law". And even that may not be completely questionable, considering that we don't know the question the interviewer asked, nor the answer that the interviewee gave. Without context, this is pure hearsay.
The subtext is that if you don't accept an unequal and mildly-to-moderately abusive relationship with you on bottom, you don't belong in the industry.
The servile mindset is not necessary, and a company that would get pissy if you did what they would if they decided you weren't what they wanted to hire is a company with (no, not 'for', not really) whom self-respecting people need not work. Our time spent living is more valuable than catering to people desperate for asymmetric power-trip relationships.
Does 'hardly in a position' dictate what is a reasonable and polite way to treat people?
If company needs programmer and programmer needs job, the relationship is more or less symmetrical. If the company doesn't really need a programmer that much, I guess you are right that the programmer is not in a position to do anything except lick boots.
Only if there's one programmer for the job. If there are many equally skilled programmers applying and interviewing for the position, then the company absolutely has the power.
And to be clear, I never said that the interviewee should be willing to take abuse or insults. However, it is perfectly valid for an interviewer to see how the interviewee handles constructive criticism of their work. That can tell a lot about an applicant, especially on how they might fit in your company's culture.
The programmer may have multiple job openings to choose from too, as well as (presumably) an existing job.
So your comment about watching people being treated a certain way really hit home. Perhaps it's time for a more frank (and private) discussion with my boss, or even a new job.
Seriously! No more running around the office in sandals. Damn kids!
So if it was like that, then sure, walk out. If hypercriticism seems to be part of the culture, you owe it to yourself to cut it short. What's the reason for staying? You wouldn't want to do business with that kind of company, period. I think @patio11 and others are imagining a much more civil exchange, but the story struck me as describing a toxic environment.
TL;DR Don't stick around toxic environments.
More simply, there is no possible benefit in acting this way.
I agree that what you suggest is prudent, but the statement is false. For many people, simply avoiding certain kinds of annoyance is a benefit.
If avoiding certain annoyances keeps someone from reaching his stated goals, then obviously it's a bad strategy. However, often it doesn't.
By not dominating the thoughts and feelings inhabiting your mind, you are being held hostage to primal instincts. Merely avoiding annoyance is not worth it when the cost is high.
My point is that you don't know that. Different people have different goals and metrics for success. Avoiding dealing with annoying people may rate much higher for this person than for you.
Too little self discipline is a problem, where "too little" means not enough to allow you to do what you consider important. This doesn't mean that more is better. Discipline is a tool, not an end (unless that's your personal definition of success).
Maybe my question is "socially and professionally inept", but why is realizing that you're not going to fit into a company automatically a criticism?
I'm not talking about the guy who walked out in the example or the way the poster described the situation. I'm asking a much more general question and I'm genuinely interested in an honest answer.
To me it seems quite legitimate that one could come to a realization that there are irreconcilable incompatibilities between oneself and one or more aspects of the job. I consider that a case of "it's not you, it's me".
Are you really objecting to the fact that it might be interpreted as "I've got better things to do with the rest of my day"?
I'm trying to understand the reason why you're so emphatic about this (e.g. couching it in terms of "antagonizing").
Also, with specific regards to everyone but your primary point of contact, I suggest noblesse oblige. There are particular company cultures which do not cause me to vibrate with sympathy. That's neither here nor there. No junior engineer at those companies has the power/authority to meaningfully change core bits of the company culture in response to my feedback. It's like complaining to a Delta clerk because my flight got canceled due to the weather: no gain whatsoever (the thunderstorm and the flight schedule are both beyond the clerk's ability to control), turns this into a you-versus-me situation to no purpose, and sucks up mental cycles that could better be used asking the obvious follow-up "Well, that's too bad. What are our options?"
Your options, vis-a-vis a young engineer at a company whose culture you would not be a good fit for, include "Make a decent impression on him such that, when he moves to a different company in three years, if your name comes up in conversation he says 'Oh yeah, I met him once. Nice guy.'"
You know.. that's true. Very true. But I think it should come with a caveat... any random person you interact with could one day be a valuable ally, yes. But the odds of any given person blundering into your life in a significant position to aid (or harm) you, late down the road, by happenstance, is very low. This is my observation anyway.
I don't go out of my way to antagonize people, or burn bridges, but I also don't go out of my way to pander to people or kiss ass just to maintain a "bridge." And while you never know what you don't know, I have zero reason to believe that any relationship I've damaged through this attitude, has ever had any negative consequence subsequently in my life. The world really is a big place, and you meet a LOT of people over a lifetime... there's a steady stream of new relationships coming along, displacing the old ones.
Again, this isn't to say one should go out and wantonly burn bridges for no reason, and it's not to say that one never benefits from a happenstance encounter with someone from a different part of your life. But I do think we should question how important it really is to worry about burned bridges - especially if your intuition tells you that the person is question isn't likely to be a future ally anyway.
No doubt, but that's not what I'm saying. I'm saying "treat people the way you feel is appropriate, based on your standards, principles, etc., and don't go out of your way to kiss ass or bend over backwards to appease people, just because they might be valuable to you someday because, among other reasons, that probably won't happen anyway."
Where this particular situation differs is that this was an all-day interview. I've been at these and they are taxing on the mind and body, to say the least. If you know you aren't a good fit, there must be a good way to end the interview part-way and explain the differences. While I don't agree with getting up and leaving, I think it is wrong to waste people's time with a fruitless prospect.
The issue is that we have to work with the limitations that come from the people we happen to be, not the people we wish we were. If something has happened during an interview that makes you actually angry, and you stay in a stressful situation for several hours following, it is extremely likely that your anger will come out in a bad way. If this is your situation then leaving, despite being bad, is the least harmful thing that you could do.
Yes, it is convenient not to get angry. Yes, it is wonderful to keep a professional face and pleasant demeanor no matter what may have happened in the interview. But we are humans. We have human limitations. If your limitations have been exceeded, the sooner you recognize and cope with that, the less likely you are to do something you will really regret. And getting space is one of the best techniques available to us. If that means leaving the interview, so be it.
Now you may agree and immediately say that this is a personal limitation that should be fixed ASAP. I strongly disagree. I recommend reading First, Break All The Rules. We're talking about a personality trait here. In adults, trying to change your personality is usually a lost cause. For most people it is FAR more effective to find ways to structure your environment so that you play to your strengths rather than your weaknesses.
So try to keep an even keel. Avoid argument. And if, in the stress of an interview, you get angry, try to get space. If need be, ask if you can have a few minutes alone in a room to collect your thoughts. But if you can't get that, and fear you'll do something you regret, you're probably right. In that situation, exiting the interview may be your best remaining option. (But note that best does not mean good.)
Why make false lying pleasantries when honest feedback is more helpful? Even if you have blocked off the day for the interview, it would still save time on the company's part to not continue the interview.
Because the negative reaction from the interviewer isn't to any perceived rudeness in the way you decline. The reaction comes from the fact that you declined at all; the part where you effectively say: "I don't want to work here and no plausible amount of money is going to change my mind."
I have both cut an interview short and I have stayed through an entire interview and then politely declined to discuss an offer.
Even when I went through the entire process up to, but not including the negotiation over compensation, I was still given looks of shock and dismay. I was still treated as if I'd had three heads and told them their baby was ugly. It was essentially the same reaction as when I'd cut an interview short.
So unless you're going to go all the way through the motions, including haggling over an offer and then stringing them along until you have (or fabricate) some other, better opportunity, I don't think it really matters.
I once interviewed for what I thought was a PM role, and started getting asked lots of in-depth business analyst questions about pricing derivatives. After the first couple of questions, I interjected and said that I had been told the role was X, they clearly want Y, and that's not me. They agreed and I wished them good luck in their search.
You make a good point about moving careers forward. Gaining a useful industry contact is probably worth putting up with just a few hours of unwanted technical interviews (which are good, free practice like you said). This is true even if the culture is not a good fit. However the company was hostile and rude. They should have calmly and casually abided by the interviewee's request then followed-up with a non-confrontational email. The company's behavior during the interview process (when they should be on their best behavior) makes me highly doubt their value as a useful industry contact going forward.
At this point, I'm concerned I'm not a fit for your organization. Much of my time has been spent enhancing my business knowledge in lieu of coding, and that doesn't appear to be valued for this position. I don't work on open source projects and my free time is spent broadening other horizons, not coding. Do you still think I'm a good fit for this position?
Even if he wasn't technical enough for their coding position, maybe there was another position - PM, team lead, consultant, etc. - that he would have been hired for.
I'll may get flamed for this, but I see a guy who spent who got insecure about his technical skills for a heavy coding job he shouldn't have applied to (or been recommended for). I see this all the time. This doesn't mean you can't provide value if you're not a coding ninja; I'm not, yet think I do a pretty good job of it. But I also don't compete with recent CS grads for coding jobs at Google.
The reason is: it shows a worldview where everything is about your personal advantage and not making things bad for yourself. It comes across as selfish and petty. That final paragraph is just kind of gross.
I want to do business with / hire / socialize with people who care about the good of the world, hopefully more than they care about their own small situation. It's hard to describe what that looks like -- it is different for everyone -- but it almost certainly does not look like this.
I also care about the "good of the world," but I think aligning self-good and global-good is a perfectly acceptable reason for doing things.
TL;DR: No, you shouldn't always act out of self interest, but you shouldn't have to deny self-interest in order for something to be considered "good."
Knowing how to say "no, thank you" politely isn't difficult and is always worth it regardless of which side of the desk you're on.
The position I currently have is not the one I initially interviewed for. After being phone screened and then flown halfway across the country for an in-person interview, about 3 hours in I told the people interviewing me that the position they were describing did not match the job description that I responded to. Their response was to send me to another group whose needs matched my skills perfectly and we turned out to be a great fit. I'm still there years later.
You tell the other person you've decided you don't want to work there, due to whatever reason, and in the interest of not wasting their time or effort it would make the most sense to stop the interview.
Why would anyone take offense to this? I'd appreciate someone not wasting my time once they've made their decision...
In this case though, you're saving yourself a few hours (which you already had blocked out in your schedule) at the expense of alienating the people running the interview as well as the person that referred you. Not only that, but stalking off in response to a difficult interview where you are challenged is a huge red flag. That's especially true for a senior position where you're looking for the skills required to lead a team.
I see some people in this thread and in the original defending this guy's "right" to leave at any time. Sure, of course he has that right, but so what? I have the right to do and say all kinds of things that I choose not to do or say.
I'm pretty much always on the side of people who say that you shouldn't waste any of your precious time on Earth, but in this case that's exactly what this guy did! He would have to be outrageously productive to get enough work done in the few hours he saved to make up for the damage done to his (potential) network.
Not only that, but even at a company where he didn't care for the atmosphere it would beggar belief for there not be a few people at least that he'd like to work with in the future.
Now, that's not fair.
The candidate may have had a weak stomach, or lacked a sufficiently preternatural sense of cool to people-skill his way out of each and every awkward social situation. But that doesn't make him a "nut."
In other words, always look how are you going to get new friends / allies. People are good in general (there are some jerks but that is beside the point).
I would ask the OP, Would you like it if someone did this to you? Has anyone ever walked out on you?
Unwarranted assumption. If this interview was as bad as I think it might have been, it is not at all inept to cut it short. It's done all the time here in the US; interviewers cut short day-long interviews when they realize the candidate is not going to work out. There's nothing wrong with politely abdicating.
"I don't think we're a great mutual fit. I will keep my ears open for you in case any of my friends would be a good fit for your position."
That is a perfect thing to say while you're cutting it short.
Seriously- if you're asked to write code in an interview, your interviewer is incompetent at the job he's been tasked with. This means whether you pass or not, the interview is capricious and a waste of time. It also tells you a great deal about the management of the company.
Being asked the write code is what junior programmers do when they are put into this situation, gleeful at the chance to try and make a candidate squirm and still full of enough hormones to see a potential new hire as a challenge to their position. Anyone with experience in software development knows it is not a performance art and that this kind of challenge is all about the interviewers ego, not about producing useful information. You can figure out what you need to know simply by talking to the candidate (and if you can't, you shouldn't be interviewing.) It really is a tragedy that this kind of cargo cult questioning has become so common, but it is also why companies are so messed up. Bad hiring processes produce bad teams.
But of course, the problem with bad teams is they don't know they are bad.
Patio you are being judgmental towards this guy based on your projections of your own inadequacy (e.g. feeling the need to be deferential to people who are abusing you.)
Politely leaving an interview with a company that has proven to you that, not only is it not a good fit, but they are incompetent at interviewing is not "socially inept", it is actually quite the opposite. It is the meek nerd who is afraid of what others think of him who will subject himself to abuse only to avoid an akward situation or confronting someone.
If people's skins are so thin that they cannot handle you canceling the interview, when they are clearly in the wrong, then that's their problem.
You can't limit your life by other people's insecurities.
The idea that an interview is some sort of power affair where the meek come and beg for the charity of a job is silly.
Showing integrity by not wasting people's time-- whether it is by having a quality interview process, or by leaving one that is a waste of time, should be honored. And anyone who gets upset that someone else exhibits integrity, well, are they really going to be much of an ally in the future.
Also, for what its worth, I've worked in software for 20+ years, and worked for a lot of startups. Only once have I worked with someone at one company and then worked with them again at a later company, and it was a complete coincidence. When I have gone looking for work, I've tended to limit myself to 5 interviews because that would give me 4 offers and a callback.
To do 5 interviews in short time (because I didn't want to have to answer an offer when I still had interviews that hadn't yet happened) you can't be doing all day interviews! That would be 5 days right there, and by the time I went to the 4th one, I'd already have 2-3 offers waiting for an answer!
Doing the all day interview is, itself, an indication that the company is only looking for desperate people.
Afterwards I realized that its entirely a subconscious alpha dominance thing. There's this unsaid very primal, tribal power trip that goes along with the interviewee vs employer relationship.
As the interviewer you want to be holding the power card - you sit in a position of power and have other people dance around and do what you say in order for you to be able to judge them and make them prove their worth to you in order to join your tribe.
Its really one of the few times we get to break down our democratic social structure and revert back to this primitive social order in adulthood, so its a pretty important ritual for alpha-types.
When someone comes in and disrupts that natural boundary it becomes offensive as they've unconsciously told you "I don't respect you as a leader" in front of your staff and team. The interviewer then needs to re-affirm their ego and dominance over the tribal unit in a public display.
If you look at all these articles floating around about judging candidates and "top grading" and you look at it from this tribal alpha-dominance perspective it really breaks down some of what we assume is necessary in hiring. I think the whole system is based around some silly ancient ritual that we haven't been able to shake from our culture.
It may be more a simple social etiquette thing than a hierarchy thing, but the fact that the host has leadership representing their group here probably infuses it with some level of asserting dominance in response to public disrespect.
Basically walking out on an interview is a great way to disrespect the interviewer, and you probably shouldn't do it if you don't want a fight ;)
Unfortunately the interviews that require something of a skill test or the chance to have a chat about something that isn't complete BS are extremely rare. A lot of interviews are nothing more than listening to someone talk about how good they are and agreeing with them.
Quite a few times I have interviewed people I have cut it short and told them why, then thanked them for there time. Most people are appreciative of straight talk.
I have spents hours stuck in an interviews listening to three different people telling me about their degrees, experience, how great their skillset is, how great they are, how working there is the greatest thing ever and failing to talk about the job.... I have spent far too many hours in meetings like this. It is a great indicator company culture. Life is short enough as it is, I don't care how much you want to pay me.
As a team lead, please be careful to decide who are good interviewers and who are not. A bad interviewer, which doesn't mean a bad person or anything else, could drive a good candidate away.
I was once contacted by a company which was in urgent need for a position. The interview went well with the first two interviewers. The third one was young and aggressive. He was almost mad when I disagree with him to a technical question. When I knew he was one of the 4 team members including the position, I already decided not to join them before the interview was ended. They gave me an offer. No surprise, I didn't accept it.
You will find this all the time from procurement department "buyers", aggressive technology managers, and virtually everyone who makes spending decisions. If you are prudent enough to structure your business model so you do not have to land every single sales opportunity to survive, then it is pretty easy to come through this ritual with respect on all sides.
For context this wasn't a normal hiring, partly an acquisition of something I was involved with (but didn't own) and the reason I turned them down was because they were, er, unfriendly people and their business model was an unethical borderline scam (though my rejection email was as non-specific, gracious and cordial and Dale Carnegie as you can get).
But there was definitely more to fuel the alpha-dog fire that I started than a normal rejection...
I've seen situations like there where everyone is quick to reject all candidates except their top choice, then have to go back to the drawing board when that choice doesn't work out.
The politicking gets done, and then the hire (you) fails to materialize. What happens to the hiring manager then?
Announcing any kind of surprise or unwelcome news can be problematic in a group situation. When people have an emotional response, they want to express it, and in a group situation the mutual reinforcement can quickly scale up the emotion.
This is why it's generally not a good idea to quit by standing up in a staff meeting and announcing it to everyone at once (unless you're trying to make a scene :-)). It's much smoother to tell your boss first, so that they can help manage the emotion of the team.
Personally, I think the culture sounds great. But if he didn't, there's no point in wasting his whole day there. He was polite in telling them that he didn't think he'd fit and there was no need to waste anyone's time.
Had this been a 2-hour interview, instead of a whole day, I'd say stick it out and be friendly. But not a whole day.
I arrived at the place and was told to go into a large conference room. In the room were about 30 other people all staring at each other wondering what just happened. We were all given a coding test in Java (Java was no where on my resume and I had zero experience with it). After answering what I could with C we were broken up into teams and started a Jeopardy style game on Java and XML. I can't imagine they gained any insight into any candidate with this game since so many different people were answering questions.
Once the game was finished we were then kept in our teams and given engineering problems to work out as a group and then had to present the solutions to the "judges". Every team was pretty much told their answers sucked, I can only compare the feedback to something out of the TV show "Apprentice."
I left the interview completely dumbfounded as to what just happened. People had flown in from out of state to be there for the interview and were blind sided by this horrendous group interview that felt like it took place solely to stroke the ego of the guy leading the whole charade. I also remember the head guy preaching to us that Java was the future and if we didn't learn it we'd be left behind.
At the end, they offered everyone (as in "ok, everyone, you're all a good fit for position EY535353-1") for some horrific job debugging JCL or something to everyone for like $18/hr (this was in 1999), and didn't hire anyone for the good gigs. By that time, the whole crowd was getting unruly, and we basically stormed out.
CEO says something like "You'd be a great fit. Just take this coding test and go complete it in that meeting room over there. And BTW, we can only afford to pay you 25k." "I thought it said 35k." "Yes, but we can't afford that and no one will come for interviews if we say 25k."
I took the test and sat in the meeting room by myself for a few minutes, then went back to the CEO and said I wasn't interested. He kinda shrugged and said fair enough, and gave me a coffee cup with their logo on it for my troubles.
I think they ended up going public a few years later. It might have actually worked out OK for me in the end, ironically enough.
How scummy. That should be an immediate dealbreaker. They've been lying to you even before you knew about their job posting. So you gotta ask yourself if that kind of behaviour will get better, or worse, with time.
I should have objected then and there, but I wasn't mature enough. I went through the motions silently stewing, and on the trip home decided I hated the company's guts and told the recruiter I was done. I guess I quit before my start date.
The strange thing was that after I explained what had happened (after 15 or so minutes of initial interview fun) and said something like "Thanks for taking the time to see me, and sorry it couldn't be more productive," the interviewers were suddenly really keen on me; I was standing halfway through the door, answering questions for a good few minutes until I worked out how to leave, much to the interviewers' reluctance.
Had I more sense at the time (I was 18 or 19 then), I would've sat down the extra ten minutes and tried to work out if we could've done business together one way or another. So whilst there are definitely times to leave early, nowadays I wouldn't be too hasty in doing so.
Good developers have an easier time producing good things in a language they don't know than bad people in a language they do know.
Why limit yourself to <language_x>?
It isn't about limiting myself to the language as it is being able to hit the ground running with it. I was mistakenly given an interview where they were looking for a Ruby developer, and had been referred to them. Only problem was that I didn't know Ruby as intimately as I do other languages. The position was fairly high paying, and one assumes an expectation of proficiency that I wouldn't be able to deliver on.
Could I have learned the language? Sure, almost certainly -- but the question is really whether or not I can learn the language faster than they can realize how inefficient I'm being and (rightly) fire me? Even if I'm upfront about it (which I was), I'm still not willing to gamble unemployment on whether or not I'll get up to speed within their expectations when I could easily justify my salary somewhere in a language I'm more familiar with.
Edit: I should also add that since that time, I have spent more time with Ruby and figured out that I don't really like it. Not going to get into a language debate or anything, it's a fine language, but it didn't fit the way I naturally think so, had I taken that job and learned quickly and all that, I'd have found myself programming in a language that I didn't really love, which could have lead to less job satisfaction as well.
The guy (technical person) was shocked, as if this was impossible. He also insisted more than 5 times to continue with the process, which, I refused.
Later on, they contacted me, telling me that they marked me as "failed interview process" (ie: do not hire in the future).
That told only one thing, that indeed, I wasn't a fit for that culture - probably at any position then.
That's the vision I have after looking at their hiring process.
At least around the time I graduated college, the recruiters for Caterpillar were obnoxious. At a job fair, I overheard a situation where someone apparently didn't meet the minimum GPA requirement and the recruiter was publicly and loudly berating the person for wasting his time. I talked with some of my friends who were in the engineering school and they said that this was fairly normal behavior for Cat recruiters.
you need to have problem solving skills, program easily in different languages, solve performance issues in the code, or, anywhere they pop up really, and so on.
The interviews focuses on problem solving and optimization, you can find them by, heh, Googling around ;-)
It certainly would seem logical that an SRE would be software conservative.
I seem to be a macro liberal who holds specific conservative positions. Perhaps not surprisingly, a friend and fellow engineer who I believe I've done some of my best work with would seem to be a complimentary opposite.
"Thanks, but I couldn't work for a company that requires me to have written permission to install Windows on my development machine."
Ayep. I'm not a good "cultural fit" either.
What I understood from it, is that I failed their interview process (which technically, is remotely valid: I did not want to go further with them).
Of course, in my view of things, they failed (or well, they just weren't what I expected)
HR might not have got the full story.
Still weird that they'd make a point of saying he wasn't welcome to come back and try again.
I see this type of interview a typical "alpha male hehaviour competition" where existing employees are trying to assert in advance their worth to a potential future colleague (to put it nicely).
It was also not surprising they were shocked and upset, but that in itself doesn't mean he should have refrained from ending the interview, or that he was unprofessional.
I have thought of walking out myself, I think most have.
For example one interview the manager presented a long monologue about how stupid he felt people from a certain well known outsourcing country were. It wasn't even so much that he was racist, it was that that his stories showed he was closed minded, judgmental and reactionary. I doubt these personality factors were limited to his opinions about national origin. I continued the interview and declined the subsequent offer, citing another better offer. The other offer was for less money but was a project I wanted to work on more, the diatribe wasn't really relevant and only would have been if the offers were similar or his was for more interesting work. I chose not to give him feedback about his rants because I wanted him to keep doing it so other candidates would have the same warning. Him not saying what he really thinks certainly isn't going to change his actual personality.
In other cases I see the interview to the end out of curiosity and to have a good story to tell, but also because you never really know what is going to happen without seeing it all the way through. I may find out more about their business, I may make some contacts talking to people there. Or maybe it is a wash out, but having flown across the country I am going to make it to the end of the day's interviews.
What HR meant by RF engineer was by RF they wanted a call center guy to handle dropped call issues and by engineer they wanted to never pay overtime. Um, sorry HR lady, thats not really what I went to school for, nor is it anything like what I was doing at that time for about five times the annual salary, admittedly with a very similar job title.
Most companies won't hesitate to cut an interview short when they've decided they don't want you, why should you feel that you can't do the same?
Saying “thanks but no, thanks” after the interview without telling the reason if perfectly fine for both a company and an interviewee.
I have been flushed from an interview process halfway through. (Apparently I failed the personality test for Capital One. Fair enough.) They had a car take me back to the airport. I didn't mind. The guy I was riding with (who was also flushed) was really pissed about it, though.
A company really should solicit feedback from the candidate during the process. The candidate can say "I don't think this company is going to be a good fit," and then the company can decide if there's anything more worth talking about. Maybe there is, maybe there isn't.
This happens. The reverse isn't unreasonable either.
Personally I think it's important to sell no-hire candidates on the company, since even no-hires might be hires in the future (for different roles, or if they add skills), or might be referrers of other, better candidates, or might end up working for a vendor or customer, or just might make negative social media postings about you which dissuade other candidates. So doing morning interviews, lunch (which turns into "selling the company's mission to the candidate", ideally by a senior person who isn't overly busy, not a random HR drone), etc. for the no-hires.
What I was trying to say, probably in too few words, is that many places don't do it that way and I have little sympathy for them. =)
(and you're guaranteed to at least get something, as if they don't have any stored information on you then the door is wide open to discrimination suits)
Companies regularly cut short interviews (speaking from personal experience). They've all been polite about it and explain why, usually saying "it's not the right fit". There are some companies that ask between multiple interviews if the candidate is still interested in talking to the next person.
A candidate should be allowed the same ability to "walk out". From the OPs story I got that he cut his interview not during a round but before the next one was to begin (the reason for moving him into another room). Thats the perfect time to do it. The reason the candidate gave is sufficient, he doesn't wish to waste anyone's time. The response of the company in this case is actually arrogant and unprofessional.
From the brief description, it sounds like the guy was showing a bit too much emotion in leaving. Also - just because an interview process seems harsh doesn't mean the company is harsh - the interview is one thing, the job is often quite another - results tend to speak for themselves regardless of culture (and as long as you aren't a snob or jerk to your co-workers)
If a seasoned, experienced professional doesn't get that, maybe they aren't a good fit...
This is exactly why we do phone screenings and brief initial interviews. If something like location, development technique, interior design or dress code isn't going to work out for someone, you should be able to flush some of that out in a 15-minute phone screen, and the rest in a 30-60 minute initial interview.
By the time you're bringing someone in for a full day, the interviewer should be at well over 75% sure the person is a do-hire. Don't waste your team's time or effort on someone you're not going to go with (unless you're stress-testing your interview process...).
As far as walking out: there's so much data here. For the company, they've either got a dysfunctional interview process or some seriously difficult fellow developers. Both those problems need to be addressed.
For the interviewee, there's the information on how the team responds. If there's a problem, and they want to solve it, they need to be more pro-active about it. "Can we break now and continue later?" Also, "Can we get a post-mortem from you?" At the very least, it's a good time to break for coffee or beers around the corner.
Sounds like he made a good call here. With a professional interviewer, the worst you might get is "perhaps you could help us by explaining why you feel that way?" Who would seriously want to bully someone into staying to be interviewed for a job they didn't feel they could do? Personally I would thank him for his honesty.
I've only done one 4:1, which was actually lunch in between all-day 1:1 interviews, and which didn't feature any technical questions just random social conversation. It was definitely still part of the interview, though.
In this case it sounds like a fairly conventional "business" type guy didn't like the idea of working in a open environment with a bunch of kids wearing jeans. But that kind of basic "what's your work environment like" information should have been known or ascertained by him before accepting an invite for an all-day on-site interview.
In rare cases you may realize during the final screening that there's some fundamental incompatibilty, but if you do your due diligence in the preliminaries this really shouldn't happen.
Having to walk out of a final interview means that both sides executed the initial screening poorly.
A few moths ago a coworker with ~5 years exp wanted to write their own simple graphing library to get around a few problems, everyone in the office said have fun do it on your own time, but don't add it to the code base. He had fun and it was a great learning experience, but the idea of working where most people where at that point has little appeal.
PS: 15 years ago there where a lot of great reasons to write your own framework, now days not so much.
My worst interviewing experiences have all involved HR initial screening. "The tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun, beating its legs trying to turn itself over, but it can't. Not without your help. But you're not helping."
My best interviewing experiences have all had no HR involvement at all (ex-coworkers introduce my soon to be future boss to me at lunch, met my future boss at a industry get together, etc)
I'm guessing some of you would be pissed because you took the whole day off for the interview only to be kicked out early.
On the other hand, if I was on an interview loop, and the person left before it was my turn, I'd be grateful ... now I have extra time to do meaningful work.
Uh this happens a lot. In fact, when I was looking for my first entry level job in a new city this was semi-common. Many interviewers or hiring managers will get hostile at you for the smallest things, like failing to get the catch in a puzzle question or because they dislike something about your resume. As soon as that one person would leave the room, it was usually followed by someone from HR coming back and politely telling me the interview was over. As a worker you owe a potential employer nothing and have the right to leave at any time you wish, regardless of how intimidating some people will be when you say you want out.
If it's becoming accepted practice for companies to dismiss interviewees early, then I see no reason that interviewees should not be able to do the same (politely and professionally, of course)
For my current company the invitation to the interview says that if they like you then you will be invited to continue to another stage of the interview after lunch (they deliberate/discuss while you have lunch).
The fact that the interviewers acted rudely is a great sign that it's an awful place to work. Would be nice if the company were named so others can avoid interviewing there.
From that I'd suggest an interview should be a meeting of equals - they want the right person, you want the right company, both sides have an interest in figuring this out. Companies have no hesitation cutting short a day long interview process if by mid-morning the feedback to HR is that this is going to be a no-hire. Nor should candidates feel bad about cutting short an interview if it's clear early it'll be a no-accept to any prospective offer.
Honesty helps all parties. Analogy by anecdote:
I have always felt that an interview is a fair dialogue. Back in 1997 (yes I am THAT old) I was interviewed for a tech support position near London, for a massive multinational which had a completely failing tech service desk catering to tens of thousands of desktops. At the end of the interview the interviewer - who'd be my prospective boss - asked the question "does that sound like something that appeals to you" after describing the job.
My answer was honest: "no not really, but I wish you all the best in the search."
"Well, I might have interest in leading a team like that because it sounds like there's a real problem to be solved in servicing your internal customers, but it doesn't sound like it's a process I'd enjoy working in, as it is".
This being London in the late 90s where there was a massive IT shortage (a bit like Silicon Valley and engineers today) I got a call back from my agent (fancy name for recruiter) who asked what I'd done. Apparently they'd called him back and offered me the job of running the Service Desk and fixing the problems that made me not interested in working on it.
I ended up with a much higher paying job offer, my first management experience (eventually building the team to over 40 people from the 6 I started with) and they ended up with someone who finally solved their problems, turning first line fix around from 17% to 70% in about six months.
Interviews aren't there for you to say yessir nosir. They're a back and forth between equals trying to find the best for both parties. This guy is absolutely right to call it a day early, if he feels it's not the right fit.
After successfully navigating a few rounds of technical interviewing they gave him one of those famous brain teaser type questions. He responded by asking the interviewer to explain how the question would be relevant to his work with the company.
The interviewer immediately explained that he clearly "wasn't a good fit" and ended the interview.
I tend to feel they were both "right".
Sounds like the guy just spoke directly. Some people can't take that; I don't know how much more neutrally you can give the message "I'm done with the interview" than saying pretty much just that. If you want to sugarcoat it then doing so still won't change the message: it just makes it a slightly more difficult for others to express how badly they take it.
I don't know the exact words used in the situation but he seemed polite yet firm. I would expect such language from anyone who's used to not waste people's time, including his own. While he doesn't want to be rude, he also can't control what can be considered rude by others.
There's no question whether such behaviour is allowed: of course the guy can just go and decide to abort the day. Nobody lost anything there: no money, no time. If he has seen life at all, he must have already learned that no matter what you do you will piss off somebody anyway so it's best to not anticipate too much what others will think of you.
^ now that is smooth. No burnt bridges, still let's you eject.
Half the time, the reaction is that I've lost 'face'.
The other half of the time, I'm praised for my efficiency or speaking up.
You broadcast what you what want. If you want to work with no-nonsense cuts through the bull and tackles real problems directly people, than keep doing what your doing.
If the puzzles are "given a list of N integers, positive and negative, find the consecutive subset with the most negative sum" then I want to see how they come up with an answer.
However, the way the room reacted doesn't surprise me. Companies like to create loyalty which can occasionally turn a bit wolf-pack. Still, a shake of the hand and a 'thanks for coming, sorry it didn't work' is always classy and always a good idea.
2) Explain your concerns and be prepared to listen.
3) If you still want to leave, thank them, and leave.
Leaving without a word is in fact rude (“I'm done, show me the elevator” doesn't count, especially if lead developer had to jump the elevator to ask what's wrong and why he's leaving).
Thus, I start the interview process out by saying that I value and appreciate directness and honesty in all of my dealings. In keeping with that, if at any time I feel I have enough information to know that this will not be a good fit, that I will be honest about that and we can part on good terms and not waste each other's time. I also ask in return that they be up-front and honest with me (don't bring me in for interview after interview just as a charade when they know they're giving the job to Fred anyway).
I've used this tactic a handful of times and it has never failed to get a positive response. On a negotiation level, it may also give me a slight edge because I broached the topic first and raised the possibility of not seeing the process through to the end, something many interviewers forget is a possibility.
Maybe person should ask to talk to lead dev or whoever, explain him that he doesn't believe he would fit, thank him for opportunity and leave. In other words say, it's not you, it's me ;) and still leave and enjoy rest of the day.
I generally don't believe in daylong interviews, I don't see the point in multiple rounds, everyone on the team talking to you endlessly. It is a waste of everyone's time and energy, to me personally it shows how people are uncertain in their decisions and need support.
One more thing, this is opportunity for company to leave a good impression on you as well as you to them, them being disorganized (often the case) doesn't really help much.
Is it rude? Yes.
A lot of this probably has to do with your experience. I once had an interview for a position that was right up my alley. I have an MS in Industrial Engineering and I've worked at large manufacturing companies as a developer, as well as smaller startups that create optimization software for manufacturing, shipping, and production systems.
I went to an interview for a company almost precisely in this business area. They asked me to code a singleton, traverse a binary tree, then do it without recursion, add a leaf to a binary tree, prove that the dual of the primal is the primal of the dual, prove various long term outcomes from markov chains, swap two integers without creating a third integer, write various outer joins, convert a sql table to a binary set of indicators (is this a common thing?), and print all possible permutation of string using recursion.
At no point did anyone ask about, or even show the vaguest interest, in my background or experience. It wasn't super well coordinated, they pretty much just kept moving me from one developer to the other - so of course I was much more exhausted and drained than perhaps my interviewer of the hour realized.
My interviewers were younger, and generally looked fresh out of their CS degrees, so I'd guess that they were quite a bit sharper where it came to markov chains, hessian matrices, and b-trees. I didn't look like I was clueless, but I came off as rusty, and I did stumble with things that I would have done much more easily with an hour hitting my old text books.
It was eye-opening, and frustrating. I was polite and stuck with it, and I kept trying, because I actually wanted the job, and I thought that they could use someone like me, because while they were very talented, my few questions to them suggested that there were areas where I could bring some experience that they didn't have in house.
I didn't get an offer, but I am glad I stuck through it. The one thing I wish I'd done is politely explain to the hiring manager what I just wrote here - that I think their hiring process might be filtering out an area of talent that could be valuable to the company.
Actually, that's probably the advice I'd give the dude who terminated the interview. Rather than ending it abruptly, ask the hiring manager if he'd be willing to confer for 15 minutes or so. Explain why you think it's going badly, and what your concerns are. If you disagree, that's fine - then you can end it on better terms without appearing to leave in a huff.
And while this is off topic, I would like to point out one more thing - this is the sort of experience that often comes to my mind when I hear about companies complaining about a lack of available talent, and it's one of the reasons I'm skeptical (though this interview was years ago, when hiring wasn't on fire the way it is now).
I could understand this approach for more junior guys straight out of college, but when hiring senior developers I'd assume the company would want to know a bit more about the candidates soft skills, past challenges and so on.
It actually put me off continuing the process with two of the companies (though I didn't walk out of the interview!) because it made me feel like all they wanted was a 'coding robot' and couldn't care less about the person behind the computer monitor.
What's wrong with meeting the guy, talking to him and then inviting to work one day at the company? Just give him some tasks, see how he manages it. If it doesn't work out, you got 8 man-hours for free.
They wanna judge people based on how they dress, what they do on their free time, etc. Not everyone is on their 20's, or wanna be a geek all day. Some software companies act like model agencies thinking they are the coolest the place in the world. It's embarrassing.
Setting aside the legal, ethical, and tax implications of such a proposal, why should a talented developer be expected to donate a day of unpaid labor?
I wish I left some interviews early :)
In the end it's important to leave on a good impression for future connections but probably those people (in your friends company) were arrogant immature kids in the first place and they don't care about good future connections anyways. In this case don't waste your time.
Same for the interviewers - please let the people know early on and save their time instead of being "polite" and dragging them into meetings multiple people (usually with the same dumb questions) or even stretching interview process into multiple days!
When you receive an invitation to dinner, is it polite to save your host money by leaving before dessert? No. By default it will be rude and it would be up to you to find a nice way to do so.
Likewise I feel if an interview is scheduled for all day and you accept the invitation, then it's up to you to apologise if you want to leave early. So long as you explain that you don't want to waste their time, then no one should be narkey about it. But if you make it sound like you don't want to waste your time, then I think they have a right to be a little miffed at you.
I think interviewers purposefully don't tell you how you've done in your interviews because it avoids any bad feelings/burnt bridges, and having to explain why they've done poorly. IMO this goes both ways, if you walk out of an interview, you better be okay with burning that bridge and explaining to a heated person on the spot why you're walking out.
Why would it be different the other way around? The key is, of course, being polite and graceful about it. But I don't buy the argument that this is burning a bridge. There are plenty of fish in the sea, and it's unlikely that cutting an interview short is actually going to cause you problems in the future.
You never know who you will meet again in your future, or who your interviewer knows that you will meet in your future. It's a small world.
You want to be well-remembered. Walking out goes against that goal. Anything short of direct hostility, I suggest sucking it up and going through it to the end.
If he was certain that leaving early was the right thing to do, it would have been better to choose a moment when he could tell one of the interviewers quietly, and exit without causing a noticeable scene.
What does this even mean?? He didn't respond correctly with their secret handshake? He didn't drink his cup of coffee with exactly 2 creams?
Is this a social thing, or a programmer thing? Did he use an unconventional coding style?
This line really sticks in my craw, confuses and somehow bothers me... I would love an extrapolation.
The question could be evaluated more objectively if it were just left to the headline: "Is it rude to leave an interview early if you have already made your decision?". The answer is no, of course not, as long as you're don't do it rudely.
The moment you understand your situation, it is fair game to treat them in equal manner.
The fact that someone followed him to ask questions tells me company seemed interested in him despite his opinion of how the interview was going.
It would be better for all involved to have a more casual meet-and-greet, tour of the office, initial conversation beforehand.
This could be handled much better by somebody with even a shred of social skills. If he didn't think it was a good fit he could have requested to talk to the lead or hiring manager and expressed his concerns. They may mutually agree to end the interview. Perhaps if the company really wanted this guy they would start figuring out ways to possibly make it work. Or they may have ended with a handshake and parted ways on good terms. Just declaring "I'm done" like this brainiac and asking for the door shows that, though he may be a smart programmer, he has zero social skills.
What exactly is the upside of staying longer in this case?
I've walked out of interviews after finding the usual bait-n-switch techniques regarding position description, expectations, travel requirements, compensation, work conditions, .. just to name a few.
Do I expect HR/management to get a clue - not really, it's not my job to further their problem solving ability.