One of the challenges was that Steve, as you very likely know, was inordinately secretive about Apple’s projects. He might be looking for someone who would be able to, say, solve some thorny problems about the antenna for a proposed cell phone that no one even guessed Apple might be working on. He might say something like, “Let me tell you where we’re trying to go,” or “Let me show you something I’m thinking about,” and pull out something as seemingly unimportant as a piece of plastic with a new color on it. He was always very interested in the getting other people’s reaction to physical design.
Or it might be, “What do you think of the design of my watch?” I always knew that if the applicant left with a new watch like Steve’s, it meant the person had recognized the beauty of the design, and Steve had rewarded his good taste by reaching into the box in his desk and presenting the person with a duplicate of his own as a gift. Those watches cost something like $2,000, but Steve gave duplicates away to anyone who recognized the excellence of the design.