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2006-02-04 Interviews

I went down to Manhattan yesterday for two interviews, both financial firms that I will not name here. I was a little leary about scheduling a morning interview as this meant getting up about four hours earlier than I am used to these days and then having to act intelligent in front of any number of inquisitors. On the other hand, one trip to the city to do two interviews seemed preferrable to two trips to the city to do one interview each, so I took a crack at it. In spite of my initial reservations, I think the first interview went extremely well. They were kind enough to take me to their coffee machine first, which helped immensely. I'm not sure I want to work there, though: it's a long trip to downtown, the hours are long and the rate is not good enough to override those concerns.

The second interview was a little more interesting: they presented me with a 5 or 6 page test, the first two or three pages of which seemed to consist entirely of essay questions (like "what are templates and when should you use them?") with no space between them to write the answers. No seperate sheets of paper were provided either.

I found this situation very depressing: I hardly ever write large amounts of text by hand anymore, and penmanship was never my strongest area, so I ended up with two-and-a-half pages of answers scribbled into the margins in a condensed form of my already barely-legible handwriting before someone came in and stopped me. Turned out that this was some kind of master set of questions or something, and that I "wasn't supposed to get this".

The next wrinkle occurred when someone essentially asked me to write the code for an inter-thread queue in Java. Now, I'm pretty good with Java and I try to keep fresh with it but I haven't done anything multi-threaded with it in many years, so after a while of dickering back and forth we finally arrived at the truth of the matter which is that I just didn't remember the notify()/wait() sychronization mechanism of the java Object class.

Such predicaments aside, I think that interview want pretty well. They seemed to want to set up a time for me to come back next week, so we'll see what happens.

In other news, while I was down there I took advantage of the opportunity to see some old friends from Bloomberg. I met with one of them for lunch, and met with a few more later on for drinks. Jenny joined us later, and then she and I went out for dinner before going home. All told, it was a fun day.