Former Apple executive and iOS chief Scott Forstall made a rare public appearance this week at Code.org’s virtual Code Break event, and in between classes, Forstall shared the intriguing story of how he was hired by Steve Jobs.
Forstall revealed that he had been considering working at Microsoft when he went to interview at NexT, the company started by Jobs after he had left Apple. Forstall described the NexT interview as “intense,” involving seventeen people over the course of the day.
However, ten minutes into the first interview, Jobs burst into the room and grabbed the interviewer and took him out into the hallway. The two had an animated discussion as Forstall waited. Eventually, Jobs came back into the room to personally conduct the interview with him.
“He just started peppering me with question after question, and after about 15 minutes we really clicked – on design, philosophy, and a bunch of other things,” Forstall recalled.
“Eventually he stopped, and said, ‘I know you have to interview for the rest of the day. I don’t care what anyone says, at the end of the day, I’m giving you an offer. But please, pretend you’re interested in everyone’s questions throughout the rest of the day.’ Then he looked at me and said, ‘I’m sure you’re going to accept this offer.’ So this was his way to convince me.”
Forstall went on to reveal that he’d also had an offer from Microsoft, which he subsequently turned down that day. The next morning, he found a dead fish in a box on his doorstep.
Reminded of the mafia’s use of a dead fish delivery as a threat, Forstall checked the box for a return address: It was from Microsoft. So Forstall called up his contact there, but it turned out the company had sent him a fresh king salmon from Seattle’s Pike Place fish market, implying that he wouldn’t be able to buy fish like that if he moved to the Bay Area.
Forstall said he ended up cooking the fish and eating it that evening, and then went on to work with Steve Jobs at NeXT and then Apple for the next 20 years, before departing the company in 2013.
The video is embedded above. You can watch the part where Forstall’s shares his experience of joining NeXT and working with Jobs from around the 34-minute mark.