Right Working Romantic Related Learning Friendly Healthy Legal Inspirational Unfiltered

That Is One Powerful Candidate

, , , , , , , , | Working | August 7, 2020

We’re interviewing a job candidate by phone. As part of the interview process, the candidates log in to a mockup of our database system to demonstrate their technical skills. The current candidate has been doing well but is struggling with a particular task. When she gets an error, we see her circling a part of the error message with her cursor on the shared screen.

Interviewer #1: “Hey, we see you indicating part of the error message. Can you tell us what you make of that?”

Interviewer #2: *On mute* “It would be nice if she could because I don’t have a clue what that means…”

Candidate: “I’ve seen that before in [our kind of system]. Pretty sure someone didn’t set it up correctly, so it’s kind of a security vulnerability.”

Me: “I know we’re not interviewing you for a security role, but can you tell us a little more about what you see here?”

Candidate: *Typing* “Sure. If I were an unscrupulous user, I’d see this error, and… actually, I don’t want to break anything.”

Interviewer #1: “You’re in a test environment. If you break it, we’ll just reset. I’m curious now. Do your worst!”

Candidate: “Okay!”

We wait a few minutes while she types a very long command on the screen.

Interview #1: *On mute* “Who the heck flagged her as ‘less experienced’? I’ve never seen half these words in my life.”

Interviewer #2: “She only has three years of experience with [System]. The rest of the candidates had at least six.”

Candidate: “Aaaaaand… there we go. Okay, I think this is gonna work. Let’s see what happens when I do th—”

As all three of us lean forward to watch what’s about to happen, the computer running the test environment — and the phone call — shuts off. We jump back in surprise.

Interviewer #1: “She was in a virtual machine! How’d she do that?”

I start frantically hitting the ON button on the PC tower.

Me: “The machine won’t even start!”

Interviewer #2: “[Interviewer #1], why’d you have to use the phrase ‘do your worst’ here?”

I get the candidate on the phone, and she says something must have gone wrong and overwhelmed the test environment. When she hears the computer won’t even start, I can hear her start to panic.

Me: “Don’t worry; it’s an old desktop that we needed to replace anyway. If there’s an exploit that can actually break a computer, we needed to know.”

Candidate: “This is a longshot, but… when you were leaning in to look at the code, no one hit anything on the computer, did you?”

I look down. [Interviewer #1]’s elbow is firmly planted on the on/off switch of the powerstrip that the computer is plugged into. We all have a good laugh and everyone calms down, and we restart the computer and resume the call.

Interviewer #2: “By the way, we see you only have three years of experience with [System]. How’d you recognize an obscure error like that?”

Candidate: “Oh, those were three years at [Company that makes the system].”

This story is part of our Best Of August 2020 roundup!

Read the next Best Of August 2020 story!

Read the Best Of August 2020 roundup!

Question of the Week

Have you ever served a bad customer who got what they deserved?

I have a story to share!