Weirdest Interview So Far

This is a pretty good story and I want you all to hear it. When I was graduating from college I interviewed with three companies. Two of them (MTSI and Rockwell Collins) offered me jobs. The other one, Empire Systems Inc., did not.

So Empire Systems Inc. was founded by a couple LeTourneau (my alma mater) alumni. I didn’t know the two of them myself, but we did overlap, by a year or two. Anyway so back to the interviews.

They came to school for the career fair and gave their spiel, which changed a couple times, but what I recall was something like the (non-existant at the time) iPad, called the Marquess. They needed EE’s and programmers and whatnot. It sounded kinda cool and I really wanted to work there, so I submitted my (probably worthless) resume. I got an interview; I suspect everyone who submitted a resume did, but who knows.

Interview I

So they invite me into some room; I think it was a class, but it could have been some kind of break room. The important thing to know is that it had a projector. We introduced ourselves, sat down, and get started.

The first question was likely something boring, like, “How would you handle conflict on the job?” I don’t remember. What I do remember is that the next question was: “There was a dot moving around on the projector while you answered; which quadrant was it primarily in?”

The rest of the interview went like that, where they’d ask a normal question, and then some oddball thing. The other oddball questions I remember were:

  • “We’re going to show faces of famous people; identify them.”
  • “Identify the following animals as predator or prey.”

That last question, with the animals, was especially funny, because I watched the first two (tiger and shark?) and said: “predator” and then didn’t say anymore, assuming that they all were. I was wrong but didn’t correct myself.

Interview II

I remember waiting a long time to hear back. I followed up a couple times before getting the coveted on site interview. But finally they raised the capital they needed to hire more engineers. They had me, another peer, and some others out. I remember vividly that for some reason, presumably lack of planning, they brought us via train instead of plane, even though it was not any cheaper. (As an aside, that train ride was when AJAX finally clicked for me, and I think I leveled up as an engineer, I guess to level 1?)

I remember two things about that situation. The first was that the interview, again, was crazy. It first featured a test. No; not a quiz where you have to implement sorting algorithms or whatever. This quiz asked details about the history of France and various parts of the Middle East. It was huge too, like, maybe twenty or thirty pages. Then after that they did a group interview. And by that I mean: one interviewer to many interviewees. So they’d ask a question and we’d all have to vie for their attention or whatever.

I recall them asking something like, “if you could invent anything, what would it be?” I think that’s a good question and it has made me think a lot ever since. Aside from that the whole thing was a joke.

The other thing I recall, with fondness, was their showing off of how it was a lifestyle job. They talked about doing karate before work and wearing ties every day and all kinds of stupid stuff like that, but it didn’t matter because it was all vapor (keep reading.) The good memory was that they had us over for a game night with some of the people who worked at Empire and their spouses and friends. That was a lot of fun. It felt really homey.

Backstory and Embezzlement

One of my friends at MTSI actually did a project with the founder of Empire in college. The friend in question told me that said founder tended to be very slippery when it came to his part of the project and had some bogus excuses relating to his other classes. Specifically he “charmed the profs with just mountains of documentation and presentation skills.”

Well, turns out he was slippery in real life too. About a year after I joined at MTSI someone sent a link about how the founder effectively stole half a million bucks. The whole thing sorta reminds me of this.

I hope you enjoyed this little walk down memory lane; I know I did!

Posted Sun, Mar 6, 2016