I am a software engineer in my early forties. I was contacted by a recruiter for a large company I might be interested in working for and after a phone interview I took a day off to go interview onsite (for a senior position.)

Everything was going great and I was getting exciting thinking the people who had interviewed me so far might be good to work with, I was liking the environment, the attitudes, the challenges they were posing me.

But then the interview with next person did not go so well. He spent the first 15 minutes reading my resume not asking me any technical questions. Then he asked me about a company I worked for 15 years ago that has long since been acquired by a bigger company so I told him what it was and how it was big at the time and this and that and their technology was the basis for this and that and I did this and that blah blah.

Then he said something to the effect of "well that's long before my time" and just he seemed bemused implying like that he doesn't understand why I'm still doing this. I couldn't believe it. I'm not giving him the benefit of the doubt because he seemed to be a pretty snarky arrogant kid who was more interested in "defeating" me than determining if I was a good fit for the job.

Anyway it ruined my day. I'm pretty sure he'll vote me down whereas I'm sure the rest of the people I spoke to will vote to bring me on. Even if I get an offer I'm not sure I'll want to take the job because I would have a problem working with that kid.

I feel like he torpedoed me and I wasted my time and I feel very disrespected and humiliated.

Do I have any recourse?

Edit: this just happened the other day and I'm just mad about having wasted my time. Maybe I'm overreacting I don't know, but he definitely didn't know how to interview someone, he wasn't prepared, and it's possible I interpreted that along with his snarky style (very snarky) as hostility to me and I've become a bit sensitive about being an older person in my field as it is generally populated by younger folks. My thanks for the comments and answers I appreciate it. Perhaps with new perspective if I end up getting an offer I'll take it anyway and just try to chill out lol

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  • 12
    The answers may be different depending on what the relationship between the position you applied for and the younger interviewer. Would he be your peer? Your supervisor? Or on a different team altogether? – Beofett Jul 12 at 18:24
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    It's impossible to judge objectively because you provided too little explaination. I think we could see this as overreacting, did he clearly state something negative apart from his tone? – Cris Jul 12 at 18:57
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    Were there other things about the interview that made you feel like your age was an issue? – dbeer Jul 12 at 18:59
  • Lol... In my early 40's I went on an interview and one of the younger folks said something like, "You can be the token old guy". I seem to recall it was intended to mean I would be the elder statesmen or adult when visitors were in the office. – jww Oct 10 at 7:17
up vote 58 down vote accepted

Everything was going great and I was getting exciting thinking the people who had interviewed me so far might be good to work with, I was liking the environment, the attitudes, the challenges they were posing me.

Awesome - So this may suggest that they value your experience and knowledge. This is highly dependent on personal worldviews, though, as the next interviewer proved. Hint: We're all human and therefore fallible, and more so when we're young. So it isn't so rare to find younger professionals that think that only the new stuff - themselves included - is better, and still need to get rid of their own flavor of ageism.

Then he said something to the effect of "well that's long before my time" and just he seemed bemused implying like that he doesn't understand why I'm still doing this.

You can almost always see situations like this like an opportunity instead. Consider this reply:

"I know, right? Big Acquired Company held such control over the market at the time, and not it's just but a passing thought; really a waste. On the other hand, it's good to see companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon occupying the niche by providing opensource tools like Angular and React, or platforms like AWS. And even Apple and Microsoft, old companies as they are, managed to reinvent themselves and now are hip again - look at Microsoft and .NET Core and Azure. I went through all this, and I'm still excited to learn - who knows, I guess I love what I do."

They're young, and those are the technologies they probably know. By reaching to them you create rapport - you're both talking the same language, and they'll see you now with different eyes (hopefully without prejudice).

I'm not giving him the benefit of the doubt because he seemed to be a pretty snarky arrogant kid who was more interested in "defeating" me than determining if I was a good fit for the job.

Now, as a veteran software engineer myself, let me offer some advice: Give him the benefit of doubt. He's young and inexperienced. By virtue of a longer time as an IT professional you know the value of those with more experience and knowledge than you; show them that the Age Game is irrelevant. Change his mind by virtue of example, and he may turn to be your fiercest ally.

I feel like he torpedoed me and I wasted my time and I feel very disrespected and humiliated.

I know it can hurt our professional pride to hear that kind of thing. But when we feel that way it speaks more about us than them - remember that Impostor's Syndrome is a very real thing - and recognize your value and limitations.

  • 12
    "He's young and inexperienced" - frankly, why is he conducting an interview or even part of the interview, if this is the case? – ESR Jul 13 at 4:10
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    @EdmundReed how else will he learn? A better question might be why he's interviewing unsupervised. – Erik Jul 13 at 6:58
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    @EdmundReed I assumed it's both - young people don't generally have a lot of experience interviewing either. It's a useful skill to have, so making people practice it isn't a bad thing. – Erik Jul 13 at 7:34
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    Veteran? 43? Come back in another 15 years, and maybe we'll let you in the Veterans group a couple of years early (but good answer anyway). – Martin Bonner Jul 13 at 13:31
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    @mbrig - well I did say "generally" - but w.r.t. Joel Spolsky specifically I found his "Guerilla Guide to Interviewing" and it says (in his recommendation) that 2 negative votes will torpedo the interview but generally one won't - unless it's a senior guy. Particularly, a single negative vote from a junior guy won't - and that's what we're talking about here. And I guess I will modify my comment above to the extent that a senior guy's opinion is frequently given more weight by the hiring manager. – davidbak Jul 13 at 15:31

To answer your question, you should brush it off, get some thicker skin, and forget about this opportunity if it bugs you this much. You really don't have recourse because there is no legal issue. You took this slight very personally and that is about it.

An innocuous comment like 'That was before my time' is in no way preventing you from getting the job, putting you below other candidates based on your age, etc. I have interviewed individuals old enough to be my father and yes, we chatted about things they did when they were my age and no, we did not jump into technical discussion in the first 15 minutes. They mention how they programmed on a Commodore and I have said how it was well before my first interaction with computers. This is in no way discriminating or demeaning them, it is a statement of fact.

This really got under your skin and you kind of catastrophized it by assuming he will topedo you, he is arrogant, he was looking to defeat you, etc. I would do some introspection and understand why you took this non-slight so hard.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Snow Jul 14 at 19:52

You handle it by not working for them.

As you know, an interview is a two-way process. They failed theirs.

Move on.

  • 23
    I wish I could upvote this answer more than once. If snarky enough, I'd end the interview on the spot and leave the interviewer to explain to the company why someone felt the need to walk out of an interview that went well with several other people. – Blrfl Jul 12 at 19:49
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    @Blrfl - this comment is exactly what I'd have written - and done. – Tim Jul 13 at 6:53
  • Or, as I did after a snarky and disrespectful interview, use the company for your own needs and move on to a better job. Which was my plan all along. – camden_kid Jul 13 at 8:17
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    Also tell the company that you were interviewing for - even before they get back to you: "Hi, I'd like to withdraw from the application because I felt the atmosphere would not be appropriate for me to work in." or similar. No finger pointing, just objective facts. They may come back and ask for details, and they you could choose to give them or not. – afaulconbridge Jul 13 at 14:52
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    This. There are plenty of places that fail my "interview process" before I apply. If I go to their careers page and at the top there's a bunch of stuff about how everyone plays foosball all day and then does rock climbing together in a group after work and on weekends, well, I like a pleasant working environment, sure, and it's nice to work with friendly people, and I'm friendly myself, but I've already got a life and I'm not especially interested in becoming BFF with the whole darn team. So, I look at a different company... – davidbak Jul 13 at 15:10

Well, it was one interviewer. I don’t get this anymore, maybe because I’m beyond the age where they can be snarky, maybe because of my qualifications.

I’ll remember from your question, in case it ever happens to me, that I won’t let anyone read my CV for 15 minutes while I’m waiting. “Why haven’t you read my CV before the interview “ will put them wonderfully on their back foot. It’s rude and unprofessional. If they do it to get some psychological advantage, that’s shot down as well.

I have done things where people could ask me because they are generally interested. That happens.

I would recommend not drawing any conclusions from his behaviour, and not assuming he has too much say. You can always carefully enquiry about his role in the company.

PS If you feel disrespected, tell them. If you feel humiliated, don’t. Just don’t. It’s their loss.

  • 22
    "Why haven’t you read my CV before the interview" will simply get you "I didn't have time" from most people who haven't read your CV. Because they didn't have time, and they don't give a damn about interviewing, it's something HR put on their back. They would rather be on their PC, programming next feature their boss is expecting from them instead of dealing with you. – Davor Jul 12 at 17:57
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    While I agree with you that it's unprofessional to read someone's resume in the first 15 minutes of the interview, if someone asked me why I didn't read his or her CV before the interview it'd eliminate any chance she or he had of getting the job. – dbeer Jul 12 at 18:58
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    @dbeer It'd be perfectly fine in my economy. – Steve Jul 12 at 19:15
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    @dbeer well, if the interviewer read my CV in the first 15 minutes, this eliminate any chance that I will accept an offer from them. The interview is a bidirectional process, the company interview you and you interview the company – Gianluca Jul 12 at 20:27
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    @Davor then why I should work in this company if they don't care to read my CV (but normally they require that you know whatever the company do) 15 minutes before the interview itself ? They are showing a monumental lack of planning and capacity to give a job to the right person – Gianluca Jul 12 at 20:32

Remember, when interviewing for a company, you are also interviewing them.

Even if I get an offer I'm not sure I'll want to take the job because I would have a problem working with that kid.

THIS ^^^^ says it all. They self-selected themselves out of the process.

The way to deal with any unprofessional behavior is to continue in a professional manner, and address any impoliteness with either a serious comment or detached silence.

childish statements such as "that's long before my time" can be replied with. "I'm sorry you missed the opportunity to work with it, it taught me a great deal"

Rise above it. It's something we older folks have to deal with.

consider yourself to have dodged a bullet

Don't let it get to you. I always used to say this to my staff when they had to deal with anyone rude.

You only had to deal with this idiot for a few minutes, they have to live with themselves their entire lives

Don't let it get to you, but let it fuel your efforts to get a job where you are given the proper amount of respect.

  • Dismissing an entire company that may consiste of 1000+ people over one disgruntled programmer who interviewed you is such a bad move, I have no word for it. And yet almost all answers here are advocating that as it it was some amazing wisdom. – Davor Jul 14 at 12:38

The company picked one person to interview you who wasn't prepared and made a terrible impression. I wouldn't hold that against them too much.

Maybe it was his first time as an interviewer (or he's very inexperienced at it) and thought that he was supposed to "win". This is particularly common with "peer" interviews where one of the interviewers is someone holding a job similar to the one you are being recruited for. The hope is that they will be able to communicate to you what your job would be like and what the company culture is like. Sometimes, they just don't care and so come unprepared or misunderstand their objective.

Unfortunately, unless they hire someone he interviewed and that person reports on what a terrible interviewer he was, the company will probably never find out. That's another reason not to hold it against the company -- they're not likely to find out how lousy he is as an interviewer.

So how can a company avoid this problem? How can you do this right? When using peer interviewers, if you don't have absolute confidence that the interviewer will take their responsibility seriously, have them do "pair" interviews with two interviewers in the room. Usually, an experienced interviewer manages the transition from the end of their interview to the beginning of the peer interviewer's interview and stays in the room.

This way, the company gets a report from the experienced interviewer on whether or not the peer interviewer did a good job. And if they're really doing a terrible job, the experienced interviewer can intervene. If things are going really well, the experienced interviewer can leave the room.

  • This is best answer. The interviewer was incompetent. It makes no sense to hold that fact against the company or those who work there. – mathreadler Jul 13 at 10:54

Say they make an offer, when you decline, you can mention it's because of that manager, otherwise there is no meaningful recourse. Can you imagine if a stranger called you and said a friend of yours was rude to them? How would you react?

That aside, your experience here is the very reason for interviews, can you imagine if they hired you without the interview and now you're working 40+ hrs a week w the guy?

On one hand, be glad that they exposed the potential culture of their workforce. That kind of information is quite difficult to attain until you've already secured a job, started working, and then start realizing who you don't like.

On the other hand, it is possible that they purposefully orchestrated your interaction with the younger employee to get a sense of how you react in sub-par situations; maybe he is not an arrogant jerk. Maybe he is the nicest person you'll ever meet but previous senior employees always felt threatened which created bad vibes in the office. If this is something that you cannot handle then it's easier for them if you disqualify yourself from the position.

If the younger interviewer's actions were completely natural and unscripted then I am certain that his coworkers have noticed. It is possible that once you are on the job you will find plenty of people you do like and have minimal interactions with the "jerk".

In any case, if you do get hired just make sure to not place the "jerk" label too early. In a few months you may find yourself in a conversation with colleagues and the topic will be:

Man, the interview process was daunting but we are sure glad we ended up with you!

This will open up your chance to express that you weren't sure that they liked you.

I just turned 45 and work as a software engineering consultant. The last few places I've been employed at I've been one of the youngest on the team. In my current job I'm the second youngest guy in IT. So don't let an inference about your age get to you, you've still got a lot of years left in the craft, also his comment could be interpreted to be about his own lack of experience rather than being about you. Often people interviewing candidates are themselves a bit nervous.

Just some background: In Australia where I live it is becoming very common to see guys in their 50's and 60's working in IT. (I sit next to two guys in their 60's that are analyst/programmers.) Younger people are turned off it and computer science grads are at a low ebb. A commonly held view, which is actually not correct, is that IT is boring, complicated and prone to outsourcing. But let them think that, its perfect for me as it means more opportunities. I'm earning more now than ever, and the jobs are easier to get and easier to do.

I mention all this because my answer is don't be too sensitive about your age, there's a lot of older software developers out there. It's actually a great profession for keeping you young mentally (solve puzzles all day) and physically (not arduous). If some young guy says "that was before my time" that could refer to the year 2000 or just a few years ago for someone new to the workforce. In fact if someone was in their early 20's when the Matrix movies came out they'd be in their 40's now.

People are often a bit careless with their remarks, how you react to it is up to you. There is no spoon...

My final point is I think you need to look at why this bothered you, it shouldn't. Maybe you're a bit stressed out. Maybe you'd prefer not to be doing software development anymore. You can control all of that. Work on relaxing, finding resiliency and focus on the basics. Be grateful, if you want to change your life you can.

protected by Masked Man Jul 13 at 0:48

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