Interviewing a candidate is so much fun because you get to passively assert your superiority and be professorial enough that you can justify those nine years you spent in graduate school studying compiler optimizations only to get a job maintaining a failure-prone database driven web app.

Interviewers spend almost as much time Googling for interview questions as candidates do.

I've been on both sides of the interview, and I'm here to dump a big load of truth on you about what interviewers really think.

The Technical Question

What The Interviewer Says: How would you find a cycle in a singly linked list?

What The Interviewer Thinks: This job has nothing to do with linked lists.  In fact, I don't think anyone has used a singly liked list since the seventies.  I wonder if you're good at PHP and MySQL, because that's what all the work is here, but I'm not going to ask you anything about actual job requirements, because that doesn't afford me the opportunity to be pathologically pedantic.

The Follow-Up

What The Interviewer Says: And how would you refine your solution to use O(n) time and O(1) space?

What The Interviewer Thinks: I haven't actually solved this problem myself, nor have I formally proven the "right" answer to be correct. I have done no preparation for this interview beyond looking on the internet for programming interview questions.  I'm basically dead wood in this organization, and I pray every day that nobody figures this out.  As such, if you come up with the answer quickly, I'll either think you cheated and looked up programming interview questions on the internet, or you're genuinely smart enough to expose my own uselessness should you get hired.  In either case, your best course of action here is to pretend like you don't know and let me explain the correct answer with a shit-eating grin on my face.

The Bullshit

What The Interviewer Says: Where do you see yourself in five years?

What The Interviewer Thinks: I have no idea what I'm doing.  I really need to keep this room from going dead-air, so I'll give you something to talk about.  Just start talking.  I really don't care, say anything.  I'm not listening.  I'm using this moment to think about the woman working in HR that I want to bone, but wants nothing to do with me because I'm an introverted nerd who will never work up the sack to ask her out.  Fuck my life.

Finally It's Over

What The Interviewer Says: Do you have any questions for me?

What The Interviewer Thinks: We're 35 minutes through a 45 minute interview.  If this doesn't take up ten minutes, I can blame ending the interview early on my clock being fast.

So What Is A Good Interview?

For once, I'd like to have a 45 minute candid conversation with an interviewee.  Talk about interests, shoot the breeze, and get a general idea of the guy's technical aptitude and fit with the company.  Talk about projects, see if the guy gets animated.  Combine that with some pre-submitted code samples, and you can get a genuine idea of how suited the candidate is.

I don't know about you, but I would not want to work for or with somebody who is this passive-aggressive.

Asking pedantic and useless questions like this is just a waste of everyone's time.