Interview WTF

What is it with clients who specify a great list of skills they’d like to see, highlight a couple of them to the recruiter and then, come the interview, they bang on about just one? I’ve just had one like that and not only did they bang on about the internals of AJAX, fer feck’s sake, but they completely ignored all of the other skills they’d asked for.

This was a pretty spectacularly bad position, it turned out, so I’m not at all sad. They’ve bought a Java based AJAX framework (yes, paid for) even though it doesn’t yet have the .NET interface they need. They’ve been told it will be ready, soon, which is good as they’ve already paid extra for that … WTF!? They really haven’t thought all of this through.

The interviewer handed over a small HTML page and asked me to tell him what might be wrong with it so I immediately pointed out the missing closing tags (HEAD, BODY and HTML) to which he said, “Yes, well, that’s just something I knocked up in a word processor.”. In other words, he can’t write HTML but he’s still rating my knowledge of it. He asked which DTD I would chose for it and I said the latest, always. What if your content didn’t conform, he asked? I’d make it conform if at all possible, I declared. He claimed that wasn’t possible as they had some filters that were kicking out dodgy content from other internal systems. Why not write a parser, I suggested? He looked like he hadn’t thought of that and dismissed the notion with “Oh well, I suppose we could do that”.

My AJAX/DOM/JavaScript isn’t up to date but I thought a lot of what he was asking sounded like someone with no real idea of how to use a framework. Why does he need to find an element in the DOM by hand rather than through the framework? Why would he want to persist data on the client side if he’s not adding offline capabilities? Even given that this may be necessary, what the hell is he doing writing his own mechanism for persistence rather than going with JSON?

They asked for C# but they’re using VB.NET to access an Oracle db without using even the Enterprise Library Data Access Application Block. That is the total extent of the .NET in the project and I’m a .NET contractor – it says so on my CV and that’s what I’ve been doing for the last five years. What in hades were they thinking?

Clincher has to be that this is actually an internal application for the maintenance of an asset database in a company of less than 500. In other words, low use. The only reason I can think of for using AJAX here is CV padding. And what the hell the boy was asking about XSS for is a mystery.

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