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Basically, I was given a whiteboard test to do a certain task during the interview, and I did everything right, covering edge cases, talking about worst and best case run times, etc and the interviewer said everything was completely wrong and wouldn't give me a reason why it was wrong. I asked him for feedback and he said that I completely missed the boat and that I probably wasn't a good technical fit for the job. I don't understand this. When I arrived home, I retyped the code I had written for the whiteboard test on my computer and compiled it and everything worked exactly how he wanted it to in the whiteboard test. What's the deal here?

closed as off-topic by Masked Man, paparazzo, Justin Cave, Monica Cellio Nov 4 '16 at 16:02

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  • 8
    This could be a really ham-fisted attempt at a stress interview. Either way, it's a bad sign about the company. – Wesley Long Nov 4 '16 at 15:12
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    You were right, interviewer was wrong. What do you want to hear from us? – Masked Man Nov 4 '16 at 15:14
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    The code you wrote might have been well written, covered all the bases, compiled and ran properly - but that doesnt mean it answers the question asked. Without knowing the exact question asked and the exact response given, this is unanswerable. – Moo Nov 4 '16 at 15:16
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    Sounds like you dodged a bullet. – Erik Nov 4 '16 at 15:17
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    Like Erik said: Would you really want to work in the same company as that person? – gnasher729 Nov 4 '16 at 15:21
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Either you were wrong, or they were wrong. In both cases, the non-recruitment is a good thing.

  1. He didn't get your answer : they are too self-confident. Better avoid that kind of firms.
  2. He did get your answer, but decided to play with you to see your reaction : this company is not a pleasant place to work in, you will be treated bad.
  3. He did get the answer, but didn't like your style. In which case he could have asked you to use his own guidelines, to see if you can conform.

Unless you were wrong(I cannot check), they are too arrogant to be nice to work with, whatever the reason(unless someone sees another possible reason). Too arrogant to accept a solution that is not theirs.

EDIT : his change of mind at the end is really suspicious. He probably saw something in you he didn't like. And he's not going to tell you.

2

Sometimes the hiring manager doesn't understand the answer or solution given to them, even if it is technically correct.

You've asked for feedback (good) and reflected on your performance from the technical side (good), but have you reflected on how you presented?

For example:

  • Did you notice the hiring manager looking confused?
  • Did you change your approach based on these cues (if there were any)?
  • Did you build rapport whilst you were presenting? Did you ask if there were any questions as you went along?
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Heads up: I am talking about the EU, the situation might be different in the US.

He probably wanted to test your interpersonal skills. He needs to see how you react if challenged rudely. Asking for more specific feedback is the right response in this situation.

Asking him "What specifically makes you think this code is inadequate? Maybe we can look together how to fix it" would be best. It's all about being a good team-player, open to criticism etc. So you need to stay calm and constructive.

I know multiple interviewers in IT who do this to every candidate. (If they had a few beers, they will tell you this is one of the best ways to detect aspergers.) IT is a field where the common impression is that interpersonal skills are lacking, but more and more necessary. So recruiters do a quick test.

The career services from my University even warned us that this test is waiting for us and told us how to react. Once you know what the test is about, the challenge changes. You are no longer at a risk of reacting defensively, but it becomes a challenge to keep a straight face through this piece of theater. (I'm not a fan of this test personally, but if you are warned, it is easy to pass.)

PS Another field where this happens a lot is international business. People in this field typically have good interpersonal skills, but they are also very much needed in cross-cultural settings. Every graduate trainee-ship position in a multi-national company that I know of (from doing interviews myself or through the other students in my batch) had a very similar test.

PPS You can not exclude that the interviewer just needed any excuse to refuse you or still that he was acting totally irrationally. Yet, even in those situations it would be best to answer in the same way as if it was the aforementioned test.

  • I did ask for feedback during the interview. He refused to give it after I was done, but was happy to give it while I was writing the code. He agreed with several things I brought up or wrote down. But then at the end, it's like he changed his mind and everything was wrong to him. – Dac Asf Nov 4 '16 at 15:19
  • How did you react on the spot right after he told you you failed. Did you ask for details at that very moment? Did you show him that you want to work together constructively? Did you keep your cool? – user7019377 Nov 4 '16 at 15:22
  • I was very calm and politely asked for him to point out what I did wrong and for feedback and for us to work through the solution. He refused and told me to leave the interview. – Dac Asf Nov 4 '16 at 15:23
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    30+ years. I've never seen someone tell a complete lie as a stress tactic. I'm not saying it doesn't happen, but to call it "very common" is ridiculous. – Chris E Nov 4 '16 at 15:36
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    @user7019377 I've never heard of this happening either. If you have some particular experience of this being common in some context, I suggest you add it to the answer, and also make it clear this is only one possibility. – user45590 Nov 4 '16 at 15:39

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