Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Moment of Trust

I was recently propositioned by Bloomberg with a lead engineering position.  Truth be told I really didn’t do anything in particular to precipitate this event; I just got a keyword match on my online resume. This means, of course, that I did not deal with Bloomberg directly at first but through their hired recruiting firm. 

This firm was a little different than those I have dealt with in the past; they were hired directly and had a specific process for weeding out candidates before they ever got to the Bloomberg campus. The claim by the recruiting firm was that the hiring process was so strenuous that most people would fold without preparation. My interpretation was that Bloomberg is big enough to not want to waste time with unqualified applicants.

In either case, the process with this agency was fairly drawn out. There was an initial phone screen; then an extended session where I did some live coding online; and finally there was a detailed technical phone interview. Most of the initial portion (the first two sessions) dealt with my knowledge of C++ topics and how well I wrote optimized production code on-the-fly (because that is relevant). The final screen dove into logic problems, questions with dynamic rules, and the like. The reasoning offered to me was that Bloomberg’s interview process was modeled on that of Microsoft and Google and I could expect these types of things.

Ultimately, I passed these stages and was set for the actual Bloomberg interview. According to the recruiting firm Bloomberg only interviewed as long as the found it relevant which meant I would know quick if there would be no offer since they would just show me the door with thanks. Specifically, I was told that less than 2 hours was not good and 3 to 4 hours meant I’d made it the full way through.

The interview process was set up to incrementally increase in difficulty. It started with what would be fellow engineers asking pointed technical questions and progressed to middle-management asking design questions and more vague logic questions. Then, upper-management asked questions about how I deal with conflict and people management related stuff. The process climaxed with me meeting the director of operations and discussing the role I’d play and compensation. All told, I was in the facility for more than 5 hours. Things had gone well.

My wife was ecstatic. After all, it was her idea to consider the opportunity in the first place. In addition to that nugget, there was a significant amount of money on the table – I stood to make more than 150% of my current salary. After talking with the recruiting firm on the phone they assured me that Bloomberg had been in contact and that they would be preparing an offer.

I took the long way home from that interview. I ran over the good points and bad points and how I could have done better – I don’t think I’ll ever be satisfied with the progress I make.  When I got home, my wife and I had a long talk about what I would gain and lose by accepting an offer and I decided to write the recruiting firm and tell them to convey my thanks to Bloomberg but that I would not be accepting any offer.

In that decision, and my wife’s reaction to it, I knew that I’d found true happiness. I asked her what she thought about my decision and – with everything we stood to lose – she said: “I trust you.”


  1. "I had a long talk about what I would gain and lose by accepting an offer and I decided to write the recruiting firm and tell them to convey my thanks to Bloomberg but that I would not be accepting any offer." May I ask what made you take that decision? It was just about to get excited where the post ends

  2. I had to weigh what I would lose. I currently have a tremendous amount of flexibility in what I work on and how I choose to approach it - work is fun for me. Accepting the offer meant giving up applied research and moving to a high stress, low variability position. While the money would certainly have been welcome, my happiness would undoubtedly have suffered for it. To me, it just wasn't worth it.