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And He Hung Up During Java Job Interview

Welcome to the real-world of Java job interviews

From Yakov Fain's blog

I've got this email from a strong Java developer I know for years. He wrote, "today was the first time in my life when I hung up during the phone Java job interview". I asked him why. He replied and I just cut and paste his email below without changing a word. The sad part is that it was an interview with one of the most reputable Wall Street companies. See for yourself:
"the guy asked me how did we do timeout on URLConnection. I said that we simply sent a ping once a second and if we did not receive a ping we considered the connection dead.
the guy asked me how did we do timeout on URLConnection. I said that we we sent a ping once a second and if we did not receive a ping we considered the connection dead and notified the user and blah, blah, blah.
the guy said that you should specify the timeout on URLConnection and asked how did we do it. I said that we did not specify timeout in URLConnection, that I am not sure there is a way to do it since in Java originally all IO was blocked.
the guy asked me how did we do timeout on URLConnection. I checked the internet to make sure, I said that we did the timeout on the software level, that I am not aware of any other way to do it and that in the very end I am really telling him how the system worked and if he can give me a hint to what he wants I'll be glad to answer.
the guy asked me how did we do timeout on URLConnection. I am not joking, again. I said - we did it using ping message if we did not receive the ping within 2 secs we considered the connection dead.
the guy asked me how did we do timeout on URLConnection. I hung up."
I guess, the interviewer went by someone's list of Q/As and was expecting the answer "Just close the underlying I/O stream and the connection will be timed out".  His list did not inlude the ping alternative... Lots of morons are working everywhere, including Wall Street, and your future is in their hands. Would you hang up?

More Stories By Yakov Fain

Yakov Fain is a Java Champion and a co-founder of the IT consultancy Farata Systems and the product company SuranceBay. He wrote a thousand blogs ( and several books about software development. Yakov authored and co-authored such books as "Angular 2 Development with TypeScript", "Java 24-Hour Trainer", and "Enterprise Web Development". His Twitter tag is @yfain

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Most Recent Comments
Sunit 03/29/07 04:41:08 PM EDT

I understand what your friend went through. but think about it. If all employees in that company are morons like the interviewer, then your friend could easily get in and become the top dog within no time. :)

Bobbie The Programmer 03/27/07 06:43:26 PM EDT

Perhaps your friend should have tried for some clarification.

Friend: We seem to be going around in circles. Could you clarify what you are really looking for?

Then if the interviewer says: How do you timeout ...

it might be time to hang up.

Remember that being able to clarify an obscure situation is a big part of a programmer's job.

Govind 03/27/07 02:01:32 PM EDT

It happened to me once at Houghton Mifflin, Boston. I attended interview at their competitor "Skill Soft" and got through with flying colors. The guy at Houghton Mifflin was a novice and less experienced than me. He was sticky and never moved to next question as if he was trying to prove me wrong. There are millions of questions, when you don't get your answer you should either rephrase it or ask some other. The question was from a text book. No offence to Indians but it happens most of time when interviewer is an Indian. I myself is an Indian. Most of the Indian origin interviewers want to prove other Indian candidate as dumb and tries to prove their superiority with stupid questions from text books.
The manager should try atleast two different interviewers, if they want real feedback.
If you want to clear such initial round of textbook questions then go through my website:

Alain 03/27/07 09:44:14 AM EDT

Ugly reality. Often happens, when manager do the interview (or bad/non-coder technical architect) and want to look like they are in control. Instead of simply bringing in a tech guy to do the tech interview.

mike 03/27/07 12:15:30 AM EDT

In there is
setConnectionTimeout(int sec)
and setReadTimeout(int sec)

Maybe this was the answer ...

BK 03/26/07 11:32:16 PM EDT

My friend was looking for job. Finally, he realized after several interviews, that employers were not looking for real and truthful candidates, with great potentials but instead candidates who can answered all phone and personal interview questions correctly. Needless to say, he bought couple of canned interview books and studied them. You can also find them online by googling "Java Interview questions" or the like.
Does my friend have real experience on the areas related to the questions asked??
No. He doesn't. It's just a bait to get the foot in the door.
We are now living in Internet age where everything is fast. Fast food. Speed dating.
So it's speed interview?. It's also called "commodity job screening".
As long as employers are lazy and untruthful to what they want, they will attract the wrong candidates.
I sympathize with your friend.

nambi 03/26/07 06:36:23 PM EDT

It's true, there are many idiots working for "reputable" companies. I have met such idiots in cisco, vmware, etrade etc.

Glad you hung up.

R. A. Porter 03/26/07 06:12:00 PM EDT

Of course I'd hang up. No sense working for people too stupid to wipe their own asses - or hire competent interviewers.

dennisk1718 03/26/07 04:46:16 PM EDT

you showed much patience.....