Friday, September 10, 2010

The company that I work for is going to run out of money in about 4 weeks.   This severely impacts their ability to pay people.  So, we've all been interviewing.  Wheeee!

You see, there are things that I am good at, like Scrabble and TV watching, and then there is the list of things that I'm terrible at.  High on the "terrible" list is interviewing for a job.

Most tech companies interview programmers by asking them to step to a whiteboard and solve clever programming problems under pressure.   This process is optimized to hire programmers who are excellent at solving clever programming problems at whiteboards under pressure.  As it turns out, I SUCK at this.  Although I'm reasonably clever and I'm pretty good at the programming stuff, asking me to perform with my job on the line removes all possibility that I'm going to produce the goods.  This is also reason #2 why I am not a porn star.*

What I need is are companies that optimize for something else.  I need companies that think like this:

Human Resources:  Are you ready to interview the next candidate?
Hiring Manager:  Yes!
Human Resources:  What qualities are  you looking for?
Hiring Manager: I'd like to get someone really sweaty.
Human Resources:  Makes sense.  Anything else?
Hiring Manager:  Well, ideally the candidate will nervously spew a nonstop series of reasons about why they can't solve this type of technical problem.  Rapid-fire excuses are a priority here.
Human Resources:  Good!  I think we're all set then.
Hiring Manager:  And really really sweaty.  I want to see, smell, and practically taste the sweat.
Human Resources:  I think this next guy is your man.

THAT's the company that's going to hire me!

I actually had a dream about interviewing the other night.  I dreamed that I had gone back to visit my previous company and ended up in a meeting where the BigWig VP stormed in and wanted to know what each person was working on.  Each person in turn explained what they had been doing.  When the VP got to me, he stared at me, paused, and said, "You've got a booger hanging out of your nose.  We'll get back to you."

I then furiously dug all the boogers out of my nose, waiting for the VP to circle back to me.  When he finally did, I said, "Hi, I'm Mike.  I used to work here, but quit two years ago to join a start-up.  Now, I'm seriously considering begging for my old job back."

The VP considered this for a moment, and said, "You didn't say that with very much energy."

He then turned to the rest of the room.

"Everyone?" he asked, "Is this the sort of person we want to hire back?"

Everyone in unison said, "Nooooo!" 

He turned back to me and shrugged his shoulders dismissively.

I'm no Freud, but I think it's safe to say that I'm freaked out about interviewing on all my levels of consciousness.

Most of the interviews so far have been from companies who were considering hiring all of the programmers from my current company. These talks are from the deals that our CEO has been trying to spin in these final few days of our corporatehood.  The CEO walked into our last company meeting on Monday and kicked it off by asking if we still had a bottle of tequila in the cabinet.

I jokingly asked if it was a good sign or a bad sign when the CEO wants to do shots before a company meeting.

Turns out, bad sign.

* Unimpressive physique


Candid Engineer said...

Best of luck finding something.

Hank said...

First of all, "unimpressive physique" is not true and no excuse. Don't make me link to pics of Ron Jeremy. The only thing impeding your porn career is your desire to stay married (I hope).

Second, I think this dream shows an impressive level of commitment to problem solving - the ability to worry consciously and subconsciously about a single problem. Most of us are busy using our subconscious to process problems we've forgotten to confront during waking hours. You don't waste time on those. You should share this dream with prospective employers.

Finally, don't forget to set the garbage cans out tonight.

Your loving wife

Sue said...

I bet you're a lot of fun to be around these days.

Avery Gray said...

You and I seem to be in the same boat. I'm getting my portfolio together so I can interview for jobs with companies that have little to no desire to hire someone with my unique "qualifications". I feel good about my chances at remaining a "self-directed" home-based designer. I just wish the pay was better.

For what it's worth, I think you will do well in your interviews. Just picture the whiteboard in its underwear. Intimidation factor eliminated.

You're welcome.