Even with an interview cheat-sheet, an over-40 American Citizen can’t get the job

I went in for an interview for a job last week for which a recruiter from a local recruiting firm had submitted my resume.  The recruiter had already placed someone from India in this particular downtown Seattle company about a month before.  In fact, the Indian made note of all the interview questions that he was asked in order to get the job, and forwarded those questions, with the answers, to the recruiter in an email.  This cheat-sheet was then forwarded to me via the recruiter, and I was even given contact information for this Indian so that I may get a first hand interview prep if desired.

I didn’t contact the Indian, but I did look over the cheat-sheet containing over 25 questions.  At the top of the list were two semi-tricky SQL questions, one involving a “Left Outer Join” and the other involving a table “self join” where you have to use aliases to complete the SQL query statement.  The remaining questions on the list included some .NET questions, as well as some more general questions.  It was a pretty thorough list.

The cheat-sheet was very accurate.  When I appeared for the interview that was scheduled to last 2 hours, I met with 2 people simultaneously.  Both are managers for the development of the software product that the company was built on, which is a web based investment management application.  After the initial small talk was over, they started the interview off with those two SQL questions right off of the cheat-sheet.  Of course, I worked out the problems in front of them (I didn’t rattle off SQL statements like I had them memorized from a cheat-sheet).  They seemed very happy that I came up with the correct answers.  They proceeded to ask a few more questions that were on the cheat-sheet.  However, they only asked about 8 of the questions off of the list of over 25 questions.  They didn’t even ask any of the .NET questions.  Then the interview was over in less than an hour.  That was when they told me that they have several other candidates that they are interviewing over the next couple of weeks and that it would be at least a week before they could get back to the recruiter or me with a decision.

The next day, they told the recruiter that they were turning me down for the job because my .NET web experience wasn’t recent enough.

???

About two months before this, I had an interview at Amazon.com here in Seattle.  This interview had a computer programming problem for me to solve.  I didn’t have a “cheat-sheet” for this interview, but I was told at the interview that I had the best solution that they had ever seen in an interview.  That sounded great.  Amazon is right up there with Bill Gates saying that they want to hire the “Best and the Brightest”, and I just proved to them that I am in that category.

What was the result?  Well, two days later, I heard from the Amazon recruiter.  She told me that they were not going to hire me for the position.  I asked her why.  She responded “It is not Amazon’s policy to give a reason as to why you were not hired.”

???

At the end of last week, I went to yet another job interview.  I am still waiting to hear back from this one.  I thought the interview went well, but I have long learned now to not put any stock in how well I think an interview went.  I did find a comment of one of the interviewers interesting however.  He said “It’s hard to find anyone with .NET experience in the Seattle area.”  I find this comment particular interesting, given that my interview was taking place in a conference room, within this company’s rented facility, that is less than a 10 minute drive from the location where .NET was invented and developed – Microsoft.  It was on this same Microsoft campus where I began working with .NET, back when .NET was nothing more than an initial internal-use-only alpha release.

2 thoughts on “Even with an interview cheat-sheet, an over-40 American Citizen can’t get the job

  1. Hamilton

    There’s an interesting point to notice here. The Indian applicant sent a cheat-sheet back to the recruiter. In my experience, foreign students and tech workers are much more inter-relationship and team oriented than Americans. An Americans might have felt uncomfortable about sending back the cheat-sheet, (I would have).

    You can take away from this whatever you want, but as competition ramps up with India and China, it seems to me that we’re competing with cultures that don’t have the same perception of ‘political correctness’, or fairness that Americans might have. To get a closer approximation, think of the ‘Good ‘Ol Boys’ networks of the 1920’s in America.

  2. beadew

    Yeah, I have been to a lot of those interviews. Finally I got an offer from a company that does hire Americans, including older folks. No, it isn’t AARP! It’s a very large company located in a very small town in NW Arkansas. What, like Wal-Mart? That’s the one! We have some very advanced IT and we are hiring.

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