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Photography of Alvaro Montoro being a doofus
Alvaro Montoro

Fullstack Developer

A job interview, Tim Berners-Lee, and the imaginary hot air balloon

career interview watercooler

Around twelve years ago, I went to a group interview (the company interviewing several people at once to review not only their answers but also the interactions among them). One of the activities was as follows:

Each of you is a celebrity/famous person of your choice, all in a hot air balloon flying over the countryside. Which celebrity are you?

Different candidates picked different people: one was Bono (from U2), another was José María Aznar, William Shakespeare, Bill Gates, Linus Torvalds... It was an IT project so there were a few more technology-related figures.

I picked Tim Berners-Lee, and proceeded to explain how I believed in the importance of the WWW, and how it opened the Internet to everybody, spreading content and knowledge, and opening unlimited opportunities to the world.

After we all explained who and why, they proceeded with the second part of the exercise:

The balloon is falling to the ground, and you need to drop someone to survive. Who do you throw out?

I was the first one thrown out from that imaginary balloon.

Many of the people in that room didn't even know who Tim Berners-Lee was! And nobody in there seemed to share my passion for the web or my vision of its potential.

Needless to say, I didn't get any job that day. And judging by how the project never came to life, it seems no one did ( least not for long.)

But even now, over a decade later, I still wholeheartedly believe in the importance and potential of the Web. And if I had to go through a similar process (hopefully not, it was not a good experience), I would still pick Tim Berners-Lee.

...even if it meant being thrown out of an imaginary hot air balloon again.

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