David Ruttka

I make computers do things

++

In Spring 2003, I was looking around for what would be my first professional job after getting my degree. One interview stands out not only because it’s where I ended up but also because I gave what might be the most terrible answer of my career.

Most of my coursework was in C++, so most of the technical questions were on syntax and defining terms like polymorphism. Somewhere along the way, one of the interviewers asked me what ++ does. I looked at him, thought for a moment, and said something to the effect of, “I don’t know. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before!”

I’ve come up with all kinds of explanations for this. I had been up late the previous night watching news of the Iraq invasion. I had gotten up early because the office was an hour from campus. Previous questions might have put my mind on some strange track where an increment operator wouldn’t apply. Maybe it was all just an extremely vivid nightmare that I’ve mistaken for reality!

I’ve certainly had other moments where I’ve looked back and realized that I could have done better, but it’ll be hard for anything to knock this one off the top spot.

What’s your most treasured goof?

This post originally appeared on The DevStop.