Amazing Apple Anecdote: Jobs Interviews

Amazing Apple Anecdote: Jobs Interviews

We’re back with another Amazing Apple Anecdote! This week we learn the Steve Jobs method for performing job interviews, and let’s just say it’s unconventional.

Andy Hertzfeld recalls (via Folklore):

In January 1981, we began interviewing candidates for the software manager position. We had high standards and expectations and interviewed a number of outstanding people, like Ed Taft (who became one of the first employees at Adobe) and Tim Mott (who helped start Electronic Arts), who for one reason or another didn’t take the job. But we also interviewed some more mundane candidates, which could sometimes get pretty wild if Steve decided he didn’t respect someone. For example, Burrell, Steve and I interviewed Angeline Lo’s former manager, whom she highly recommended. As soon as the guy walked into the room, I knew it was going to be problematic, because he seemed extremely straight-laced and uptight, dressing more like an insurance salesman than a technologist. He also seemed very nervous as he fumbled at our first few questions. 

I could tell that Steve was losing patience when he started to roll his eyes at the candidate’s responses. Steve began to grill him with some unconventional questions. 

“How old were you when you lost your virginity?”, Steve asked 

The candidate wasn’t sure if he heard correctly. “What did you say?” 

Steve repeated the question, changing it slightly. “Are you a virgin?”. Burrell and I started to laugh, as the candidate became more disconcerted. He didn’t know how to respond. 

Steve changed the subject. “How many times have you taken LSD?” 

The poor guy was turning varying shades of red, so I tried to change the subject and asked a straight-forward technical question. But when he started to give a long-winded response, Steve got impatient again. 

“Gooble, gobble, gobble, gobble”, Steve started making turkey noises. This was too much for Burrell and myself, and we all started cracking up. “Gobble, gobble, gobble”, Steve continued, laughing himself now. 

At this point, the candidate stood up. “I guess I’m not the right guy for this job”, he said. 

“I guess you’re not”, Steve responded. “I think this interview is over.” 

That was probably the most petrifying job interview of their lives, as one would imagine that sex and drug use aren’t exactly what you’re going to be asked on in a formal interview. But Apple do things differently. That’s it for this week but we’ll be back soon with another amazing anecdote. For now though, enjoy!

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