Though I worked as a developer in the earlier stages of my career, I deviated to a production support role due to some circumstances. I enjoyed and welcomed this change as it taught me a lot of new things. Yet I always longed to come back to a development role. To set this thought into motion, I started looking for development jobs.
About two months ago, I received a call from a recruiter at a major MNC for a software developer position. It is one of the biggest IT services and consulting company in India. I was quite excited about receiving the call as I was looking to shift into a development role. At this point, I knew that this interview would be an outright humiliation as I still had lots of gaps in my knowledge which was relevant to a regular development role.
The very first phase of the interview was a technical walk-in. I went to the campus at scheduled time. The campus was not a great looking one, but was not bad either. I walked past a group of buildings and I was led into one of them. I sat in a cubicle where I was told to wait for a phone call. There were other people like me who were either waiting for their call or already engaged in a tele conversation with some remote person. While I waited for my turn, I picked up the kind of questions these people around me were being asked. In fact, the person in my next cubicle spoke so loud that I became almost sure that I would not fare badly. After an hour, it was my turn. Since it was lunch time, my interviewer looked to wrap the interview up quickly. His rush was not slowed down at all owing to me not being able to convince him that I would be suited as an intermediate level developer. The thing that surprised me was that the interview was not really technical enough for a developer role. I was asked questions more on a design level and not the technical nuances. Either way I would have been a disappointment. But I favored being grilled technically. The interview lasted for about 20 minutes when my interviewer ended the call. I walked out feeling pretty satisfied as I received my due humiliation.
I neither received any communication from the recruiter nor did I expect any. After three days, I was told that I was selected for the next phase. I could not believe it. I told myself that this might be a role where the responsibilities would be a mix of development and support, so they thought I would fit.
The recruiter called me again after three days and informed me that the second phase would be a managerial and telephonic. On the day of the second phase, I got interviewed by the concerned managerial figure. He seemed to be a smarter person, who had a good high level knowledge and understanding of development projects and architecture. Quickly he understood that I spent more time lately on support projects and questioned me relevantly. He was visibly disappointed as he wished to talk to a person with more relevant experience. The call ended after 20, 25 minutes. I thought I would not receive any further calls.
I was wrong. A week after the second phase, the recruiter told me that I will be having another managerial round. What? Another managerial round? For a position that was supposed to be a lot technical in nature, it was turning out to be a total nightmare. If it was for a developer role, I should not have received any call after the first round debacle. I realized that they were not really keen in hiring a good developer, but rather looking to fill a position at any cost. Who knows how many months I would be on bench (no work, but salaried time), if I really did get hired after all?
Having all these thoughts, I decided to play along. This was part of the conversation with the second managerial figure:
Why are you coming out of this company so soon?
I was not comfortable with my project mapping since it was related to X technologies.
What if in my MRC I assign you to a project of X technology? Will you leave my MRC also?
Yes I would.
So you are adamant about technology?
I wouldn’t call it adamant. I would call it passion, since I am really interested to work in technology Y. I am planning to complete couple of Y certifications also by the end of the year.
But you have to be flexible to work on any technology you are assigned. Long time ago when I worked in a Microsoft project, I was given all heap dumps and log files for analysis. I did that.
Yes it is true that one needs to flexible in the field of IT, but now, I am not really interested in working in any technology that is given to me. I want to work in technology Y.
How many lines of code have you written on days you have written code?
Uhm.. About a 100 or so.
100 lines only? Here in my MRC, 220 lines of code is a standard.
So does more the number of lines of code mean more skill?
No, no, but in my MRC, we have it as a standard measure.
You said you worked on bug fixing? Tell me any bug fixing metrics?
Uhm. I am sorry, I don’t know what bug fixing metrics are.
Ok, tell me what rejection index is?
I don’t know. I have never heard of rejection index.
Ok do you know of buzzword, buzzword, ..blah..blah..?
No, I am sorry, I never heard any of them.
At this point the conversation was over. The interviewer was quite pissed off, but kept his cool.
I was pretty sure at this point that the recruiter would not dare to call me again. They waited for a week and gave me a call. I expected to hear that my profile was not being considered at this time and such. To my complete surprise, the recruiter asked how much salary I am expecting and which place I would prefer. This either meant I will be receiving an offer letter sooner or later from this company or there would be further managerial rounds. I lost whatever little respect I had for this company.
How would a person in their right mind accept an offer like this? While I am pretty sure that there are thousands of people being recruited in this way, I never wanted to go to such an extent where I feel that the organization is doing me a favor by letting me in. This does not lead a person to meaningful work. I acknowledge that in the end, not all jobs turn out to be total crap jobs, but I could never enjoy this process which actively seeks to undermine my intelligence and ability. This does not promise a person of any kind of job satisfaction.
Some questions I wish some Sr. Dev or a Lead Dev asked me:
- What kind of projects have your worked on?
- Why was a particular technology was chosen for a particular project?
- Explain OOP concepts with an example.
- What design patterns have you implemented?
- Have you worked on MVC?
- Is MVC a better alternative?
- How can the performance of a stored procedure improved?
- How have you used JQuery in your projects?
In the end, I felt that interviews with various managerial figures was an attempt to shoehorn me into some ‘software analyst’ role. Having had this bad experience, I decided to avoid MRCs altogether, in the hope for a better prospect.
MRC = Mass Recruiting Company