Note to self

Must read this on Friday morning:

  • A job interview is not a test of my worth as a human being
  • Getting through to the next round of an interview series, or being offered a job, is not a validation of my existence
  • If offered a job, I am not under any kind of obligation to accept it
  • Accepting a good offer for a bad job leads to stress, misery, self-doubt, and despair
  • A job interview is the prime (and possibly only) opportunity to find out if the job is bad for me. Use this opportunity wisely.

3 Replies to “Note to self”

  1. I shall share the story at some point of a technical test that I did with a certain finance company in Edinburgh (couldn’t tell you _IF_ you you guess right).

    A job for a VB6 dev, so they gave me a C test and a VB 3 test (which is not an OO lang) and then complained that I had no OO skills. How did they work that out from two non-OO languages? I never clained that I coould code C, and I did tell them at the test that I hadn’t used it for about 4 years!

  2. It is a little known and inadequately understood fact that a job interview is as much the job seeker interviewing the company as it is the other way around.

    To this end I have composed a short guide, which follows:

    1. Was the interviewer neatly dressed and clean? Different work sites have different requirements as to formality, but a dirty or disheveled interviewer could mean a dirty and disorganized company.

    2. Did they pay any attention to your resume, or did they just process you, as in Matt’s case above? Do you sense at least a glimmer of intelligence somewhere in the company? Do they at least give the impression of being able to read and comprehend English prose? Illiterate and stupid requirements won’t stop at the interview room you know – it’s a hint about how the company is run.

    3. Was the interviewer courteous, or did he/she try to bully you or make you feel small? Again, is this the kind of atmosphere in which you wish to work? (A friend of mine once applied for a job, and an interview was arranged. The night before, my friend came down with a HORRIBLE flu. He could hardly move. So he called the company. Bad sign #1 – a principal of the concern was still in the office at 9:00 pm. Bad sign #2 – this principal told my friend, when he sought to reschedule the interview, and this IS a direct quote: “We don’t have time to get sick here.” RED FLAG RED FLAG)

    4. They’re trying to figure out if you can make them money. You, on the other hand, should be trying to figure out whether or not they are capable of making money in general, and staying solvent. Mick was pretty safe with Microsoft in this regard, at least for the short run. But for the smaller concern, check out the surroundings. Is the place well organized? Does the morale of the interviewer seem high, or is he or she demoralized or desperate? This kind of thing can admittedly be very hard to discern – after all, a failing concern is fooling their bankers, who have access to the books, for cryingoutloud – but do have your sensors out on this one.

    5. Eyeball the interview room closely. Have the walls been painted recently? Is the interviewer’s desk a junk pile? Is there a window, or is this a company which employs only moles? Is this the kind of place you’d like to spend the majority of your waking hours? None of this is dispositive by itself, but there is an overall “feel” you should be alert to. If the interview room depresses you, this could be an important sign.

    6. Do you want to do good, high quality work? If so, do you think you can do it here? What is their reputation in this regard? Are they adequately staffed, or will you be asked to do a slap-dash job in response to unrealistic deadlines?

    In the end, it all comes down to “feel.” I was once interviewing around San Francisco, just exploring my options, and I had the occasion of being taken to lunch (he was trying to recruit me) by one of the Grand Old Men of San Francisco Tax Law. A most charming fellow. We talked about what makes a law partnership work, but this is obviously broader than law. Elliot said, “That’s easy. Shared values.”

    Best wishes to Martin in finding a position. Best wishes to the company, whoever they are, in finding an employee. If the two of them hit it off, better yet, it solves two problems at once.

    I used to have a letter which said (VERY nicely) “good luck in your search for a new lawyer” which expressed my deep regrets in not being “able” to pursue the matter further with the firm in question. I used it when they gave me the creeps. Every prospective employee should have such a form in his or her files, or at least in his or her mind.


  3. The interview on Friday was arranged through the recruitment consultants in charge of their current hiring campaign, so I didn’t get to speak directly to the Company in question. The recruiters, however, did a very good job of convincing me that their attitudes were aligned with those of the Company. This manifested itself in, amongst other things, me being interviewed by a guy in fashionable jeans and a fashionable T-shirt that showed off the nifty tatts on his biceps. They came across as very cool, and very smart.

    (Interestingly, this is the same recruitment firm that handles Microsoft’s graduate recruitment in the UK.)

    I put up this entry mostly because I want to be cautious about wanting this job too much. From the outside, it looks like would be a truly awesome opportunity for me. But I have to keep reminding myself that working as a contractor is also really good for me, both financially and emotionally. Leaving Cedalion for Tribune last year was a big mistake that happened to turn out well in the end. I’ve got it good right now, and if I’m going to make a move, I have to make sure it’s genuinely a move for the better, not just for the sake of coolness, or random change.

    Also, the more excited I get about it, the more crushed I will be if I don’t get the job. On the other hand, one of the things the recruiters were scanning for was interest and passion.

    It’s an emotional tightrope. 😉

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