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I recently attended a series of interviews (3) with a company for a senior role (8+ Years). The first two interviews went great and I got positive response from the interviewers as well as the HR representative.

The third and the final round, for some reason, was taken by a Junior member in the team (4-4.5 Years experience) and I feel confused by the way she behaved during the interview.

I tried to google, but couldn't find anything relevant.

I could summarize the 3rd interview like this:

  1. The interviewer constantly interrupted me, didn't even let me complete my introduction citing that this is a technical interview (she herself asked for my background).
  2. She was making up screening questions on the go, and these questions weren't even 'closed' in scope, as in, if I ask the same query/doubt (about the question asked to me) in a span of few minutes, she'll answer differently to them.
  3. When I'd start answering questions as well, she'll interrupt, add new details/information to the question and would say "is that clear?", which I felt odd.
  4. She kept asking vague questions, and it seemed that she herself didn't have clarity on the same.

Despite all of that, I continued answering questions as per my past experience.

After the interview, unfortunately I received the rejection email, and I feel so distraught as the first two interviews went great (taken by senior members) and it was a great opportunity.

Is this considered normal? The way she behaved ?

I know this platform is for asking workplace related questions only, but I don't know what to feel and do about such an experience.

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    4-4.5 years is no junior. And this was an odd interview, you got rejected, there's really no reason to dwell - just move on. It's for the best.
    – Aida Paul
    Commented Feb 8 at 17:31
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    @Anonyma Edited the question, hope that helps.
    – user143651
    Commented Feb 8 at 17:56
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    Would you want to work at a company where that is representative of your working day? If not, then maybe you could feel pleased at having dodged a bullet. (I've never had an interview like that.) Commented Feb 8 at 18:22
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    Some people are as bad at interviewing as others are at being interviewed. As Andrew already mentioned, sometimes getting rejected for a job turns out to be for the best. I imagine she was interviewing you because you were going to be working on her team. Would you want to work with her every day? Personally, I can barely stay polite when someone interrupts me repeatedly because they're excited about a topic. Having someone interrupt me multiple times while I am trying to answer their poorly stated question would probably cause the interview to get cut short.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Feb 8 at 18:47
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    @AidaPaul "junior" can be a measure of time, or one of developer expertise. I've met junior developers with a 5+ year career track, I've met genuinely good senior devs with a 3 year career track. Time is not a surefire measure of expertise.
    – Flater
    Commented Feb 11 at 23:54

4 Answers 4

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One possible reason for the negative outcome of the 3rd interview may be (the junior's interviewer) lack of self-confidence.

You said that the third person was less experienced than you. It's possible that

  • she perceives you as someone who could overshadow her, take her place and prevent her from progressing.
  • feel the need to assert herself in relation to her colleagues by denigrating a candidate. I've often seen insecure employees assert themselves by denigrating others or treating them erratically.

In any case, her behavior as you describe it is not enviable, either as a colleague or as a superior.

If you're interested in this company (perhaps for a future position), you could write to them

  • to tell them you were very surprised that the process stopped after the 3rd interview whereas the first 2 rounds had gone well and you got positive feed-back
  • ask them for feedback on your personal improvement. But that's not going to change the situation on this opportunity.

As an employer, I've occasionally agreed to have a feedback discussion (10 minutes) with rejected candidates, and they've appreciated the gesture.

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TLDR: No, it's not normal. Don't worry about it unless it keeps happening.

The third and the final round, for some reason, was taken by a Junior member in the team (4-4.5 Years experience) and I feel confused by the way she behaved during the interview.

There can be good reasons for that, for example if you are expected to mentor less experienced team members. Or she could have been covering for someone else. Additionally, while she might not have as much technical experience you do, 4 years is hardly inexperienced.

(1) The interviewer constantly interrupted me, didn't even let me complete my introduction citing that this is a technical interview (she herself asked for my background).

This is certainly impolite. Maybe she was having a bad day. Maybe she is just an unpleasant person. Maybe she thought you were going into too much detail when she only expected a quick overview.

(2) She was making up screening questions on the go, and these questions weren't even 'closed' in scope, as in, if I ask the same query/doubt (about the question asked to me) in a span of few minutes, she'll answer differently to them.

This sounds like she is an inexperienced interviewer and did not prepare well (whether through her own fault or because she got pulled in spontaneously). I know I certainly wasn’t much use the first time I suddenly found myself on the other side of an interview.

(3) While answering questions as well, she'll interrupt and kept asking "is that clear?", which I felt odd.

It is not always easy to judge what is or isn’t clear to someone you don’t know. Some things you would expect any experienced candidate to know. Others might be very specific to a sub-field or the company itself. If in doubt, I would prefer to make certain whether the other person understands so that I can adjust the level of detail I give in my explanations. Of course, there are likely better ways to do so than to repeatedly ask the same question.

(4) She kept asking vague questions, and it seemed that she herself didn't have clarity on the same.

This might also be due to a lack of preparation.

What I am trying to show here is that there are lots of reasons for why she might have behaved that way and they are unlikely to have much to do with yourself. There will always be some unpleasant / stressed / inexperienced people.

Unless a specific reason for the rejection was mentioned, you can’t be certain if it was due to that interview. Even if your interviews went well and you would be a great fit for the role, there could always be an even better candidate.

Now if experiences like this become a pattern, then it is time to examine whether your own behaviour could be contributing to it. But until then don't waste your own time thinking too deeply about it.

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Is this considered normal ? The way she behaved ?

It seems unusual to me.

Companies in general do a terrible job of interviewing. Very few provide any training on how to conduct interviews.

It's possible that the junior member was just poorly trained. It's also possible that the junior member's behavior was designed to see how you would interact with juniors.

It seems unlikely that you lost out on the job solely due to this third round. But you never know.

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    It took three decades before IBM gave me access to proper interview training....
    – keshlam
    Commented Feb 11 at 2:30
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It may have been a technical design interview, or a deliberately high pressure interview with an impatient interviewee. I offer this as an alternative hypothesis, but the other answers suggesting an incompetent interviewer are also perfectly plausible.

In a technical design interview, the questions are not usually short-form questions with set answers. Open questions, with ambiguous or high level specifications are used. These inherently have multiple solutions. They usually require questions from the interviewee to clarify the problem and make the constraints clear.

It's meant to give the interviewer an understanding of the way you solve design problems, which is what we face in real jobs, after all.

Usually in a design focused interview, there is only time to talk about 2-3 problems in an hour. Rushing through many questions undermines that exploratory process. So this may be a problem with the interviewer, or they may have become impatient with canned responses from yourself as an interviewee. Previous interviewers may have also given feedback about the candidate rambling on or using scripted responses.

In a high pressure interview, the main thing is to stay calm and match the speed, and let incorrect answers go. I have seen it used, and I get the reasoning that sometimes jobs are high pressure too, but I'm not a big fan of the technique for technical work.

I wasn't there, but a few parts of your question support the design interview hypothesis.

She was making up screening questions on the go

In a design focused interview the short questions aren't necessarily screening questions, but probing understanding.

these questions weren't even 'closed' in scope

She kept asking vague questions, and it seemed that she herself didn't have clarity on the same.

These aren't screening questions with right or wrong answers, but questions that explore identifying constraints and making tradeoffs.

if I ask the same query/doubt (about the question asked to me) in a span of few minutes, she'll answer differently to them.

It's common for the design scenario to be adapted during the interview, exploring hypotheticals and alternative constraints.

When I'd start answering questions as well, she'll interrupt, add new details/information to the question and would say "is that clear?", which I felt odd.

Asking questions? She may also have been expressing impatience, if she expected greater familiarity with the domain or the tools you were talking about.