Apple – 2012

I was browsing the jobs at Apple, and they actually had a technical position posted for Austin! Unbelievable!

It was for a position entitled “iCloud QA Engineer”. This appeared to be a technical position, focused on QA for Apple’s iCloud offering.

Excerpts from the job description:

Extensive experience with testing or troubleshooting Mac OS X software
Hands-on experience with iOS testing
Impressive knowledge of file or data synchronization
– Proven bug detection and regression skills
– Strong hands-on experience with mobile devices and web applications
– Solid understanding of standard web technologies (Javascript, HTML, CSS)
– Thorough knowledge of Mac OS X, Apple mobile products, and Windows platforms
– Comfortable and adaptable in a high-paced environment
– Creative thinker and problem solver
– Ability to investigate and debug difficult problems
– Strong analytical and debugging skills
– Excellent verbal and written communication skills
– Experience with data integrity change and comparison schemes
– Dedication to user-focused design & high quality technology
– Strong commitment to technical quality assurance as a key part of the development cycle
– Willingness to work cross-functionally with other teams to make all products and deployments seamless for our customers
Desired skills:
* Experience or knowledge of Mac OS X and Windows operating systems
* Experience or knowledge of the iCloud suite of applications.
* Experience with iOS or other mobile device platform application testing.
* A solid knowledge of Java, JavaScript, SQL, Unix shell scripting
* Experience working with Web technologies, including HTML/CSS
* Technical knowledge of the HTTP protocol, Headers and proxies.
* Familiarity of the Apple Push Notification Service
Other skills:
* Ability to write scripts/tools on Windows
* Experience or knowledge of Windows debugging and automation tools
* Comfortable with Unix and shell scripting
* Experience with automation, scripting, PHP, SQL, Perl, or Python
– BSCS or equivalent work experience.
– Strong written and verbal communication skills.
– Automation and/or scripting experience.
– Experience using the UNIX command line.
– White box and black box testing experience.
– Attention to detail and an unwillingness to settle for a product that is just “good enough.”

I had most of these qualifications. This was encouraging! A little weak on the “Technical knowledge of the HTTP protocol, Headers and proxies”, but otherwise solid.

And it was Austin! So I applied.

And then, I asked one of my former coworkers if he could recommend me. He responded that at that time, he and his sister were dealing with moving their mother into assisted living, and he did not have time.

But another friend did recommend me.

So, after some talking to the hiring manager, I finally had a set of interviews. The first half was at Apple’s Riata Trace campus, and the second half were all phone calls from Cupertino. I had an hour between, so I went home to take them.

They asked me how to test one of their apps. I started with installation, and then new user experience, and then I picked a feature and started tearing it apart…

That was the first interview. The second was much the same. I went home.

I started answering the phone calls. The next-to-last interview was key. The fellow asked me to figure out what kind of authentication this test website needed by just using the UNIX curl command.

I still would have trouble doing that now after working in web programming for several years. It was a specific “thing” that the fellow expected, and I could tell because I did not know the magic “trick” he was looking for, that he was not going to recommend me.

This is not a great way to interview people. Expecting people to have the exact skill set needed or the know exactly what you know is a bad interview experience both for the perpetually-disappointed interviewer and the frustrated interviewee.

Almost two weeks later, an Apple HR person sent me this:

It appears that it is very close between and an internal candidate. I should have a decision by tomorrow.

And then four days later (not “tomorrow”), I got this:

I wanted to thank you for taking the time to meet with the team. While the hiring manager feels you have a great skill set he feels that is not quite what he looking for for this position. He does feel that you are a strong candidate and that you are a fit for Apple. I will share your resume with all of the software recruiters and keep you on the Hot Sheet for future consideration.

And I think it all came down to the very specific trick I could not do. How incredibly frustrating.

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