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Thursday, March 12, 2015

Why I Won't Go on Any More Tech-Job Interviews

I could use a job. I've been out of work for about two years. Took my first 401K disbursement recently. My wife is on disability for schizophrenia, but now that's she's saddled with Part B expenses for Medicare (thank you, State of Florida), disability pays less than $600 a month.

So yeah, I could use a job right about now.

But a fact came roaring into my consciousness the other night as I was dozing off to sleep: I simply won't go on any more bullshit tech-job interviews.

Life is too short. I have too much self-respect.

What's a "bullshit tech-job interview"? Come on. You know what I'm talking about. The kind of interview where (after phone screens) the company brings you in on-site, then has specialists tag-team you all day in a series of 45-minute mini-inteviews, asking you programming (and non-programming) riddles, making you jump through hoops like some sort of trained seal.

I'm not a trained seal any more. I won't go to any more demeaning, dehumanizing, pompous-nonsense interviews. Lunch? Sure. Phone interview? Yeah, of course. Tests? Maybe. I can see where an employer might want to verify, with a practicum, that I know skills applicable to the specific job at hand. Fair enough.

But sit me down in a room with some wise ass asking me how I'd determine the number of window panes in New York City, or some shit like that? F*ck the hell off. Just get the hell out.

Most of the stuff on my resume is easily verified. Writing samples? I've got hundreds, online. Do I know computer science? Seven software patents (licensed to Apple, Oracle, Novell, others) speak to that. Can I write code? I have the death sentence in seven languages.

There's no need for a day-long interview. If your precious culture is so intricate and brittle that I might break it just by coming onboard? If it's so piddly-ass dainty that I need to come on site all day for the specific purpose of seeing if I'll "fit in," maybe you think a bit too much about culture. How's your business doing?

I've been through the Google interview process (at Google Manhattan, a few years ago). Friends of mine have been through it. It blows major chunks. It's more of an elaborate hazing ritual than an interview "process." How anyone can sit through five hours of being treated like a game-show contestant and not feel insulted, I don't know.

Rackspace put me through a similar ordeal. Apparently even Rackspace (based, I guess, on their placing 40th, or something, in one of those Fortune rankings of top companies to work for) feels they can get away with imitating the Google hiring style. (And take it from me, that's all it is, a cheap imitation.) Except, they also had me do a special marketing presentation to a room full of bigwigs, via phone conference, before bringing me on site. To see if I "fit in."

I worked for Novell for 7 years (and Adobe Systems for 3), so I think I know how to "fit in" with other software-industry professionals. I have a track record, you see. It's not like I'm fresh out of college (or prison) and have to be treated as an unknown quantity.

For the Adobe job, I had to submit to a test. Which I didn't mind at all, because the test pertained in a specific way to the job at hand. It wasn't a game-show quiz. It wasn't a bunch of riddles. They sent me a big wad of source code and said (essentially) "Here, document this for the end user, and also write developer doc, and also, while you're at it, develop a small test program, in the language of your choice, to exercise the Java classes, and document your test program so that an unskilled user could run it and know if it's working properly." The source code consisted of 17 Java classes, uncommented. I was given two weeks to send my test results in. I turned it around in 48 hours. (The code was for a high-performance web server, multi-threaded and thread-pooled in such a way that it would block neither at the file- nor network-I/O levels.) This was for a technical documentation job, which I succeeded in landing (after an all-day interview in Basel).

I'm all for answering questions. But they have to pertain in some realistic way to the duties of the job, the thing I'm being hired for. (This was actually the case, in the Adobe process.) Don't ask me far-flung hypotheticals or make me speculate on matters of purely academic concern; don't pretend you're going to "learn how I think" by asking inane game-show questions. Please, just stop with the riddles. If you want to know how many golf balls will fit in a 747? Go shove the balls up your ass look it up online.

☙ ❧

The following list of people who retweeted me yesterday might not be 100% complete, but it's as good as I can do with my silly notifications-scraping hack. In any case, you should get busy following the folks shown below. They're fantastic Twitter networkers, and they retweet! (Click their pictures; the pics are live links.)


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16 comments:

  1. Please, take this advice: Read Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, and The Power of Now, go through the "bullshit" interview process, start making money for you and your wife, participate in the interview process, then change how the interview process is done. Choose. Do. Change.

    This post and the pattern of thought behind it is called "victim mentality". Learn to recognize the thought pattern, and choose an alternate, empowering thought pattern.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I won't "participate" in a broken process. Participating in it is what enables and perpetuates broken processes. Changing the process doesn't start with me getting hired at Google and then changing it from the inside: are you nuts? You really, sincerely believe Google will let me overhaul their broken HR system from the inside? You really think someone can do that? You're delusional.

      What has to happen is for thousands of job applicants to follow my lead by refusing to enable the corporate bullshit mentality that has led to the current nightmare situation in which worthy people are dehumanized by HR systems run amuck. Activism starts at THIS level, my friend. You have swallowed the Kool-aid. Good luck to you.

      Delete
    2. "On the hiring side, we found that brainteasers are a complete waste of time. How many golf balls can you fit into an airplane? How many gas stations in Manhattan? A complete waste of time. They don’t predict anything. They serve primarily to make the interviewer feel smart." -- http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/20/business/in-head-hunting-big-data-may-not-be-such-a-big-deal.html?pagewanted=all

      looks like you can take your bullshit out of scare quotes

      Delete
    3. "Participating in it is what enables and perpetuates broken processes."

      So... fucking.. true!

      Delete
    4. There is a distinct difference between the "woe is me" victim mentality and the assertive and self-confident "this crap is an insulting waste of my time and intelligence" mentality. I would suggest if you're the sort of person who will jump through any hoop to please any idiotic request by a carrot-toting ignoramus who promises you the moon, then no matter how well you can slough off the injury like the Black Knight in Monty Python's Holy Grail by claiming it is only a flesh wound, you are deluding yourself and the consequences of that sort of denial are a complete emotional breakdown at some point in your future. I have read both of your recommended books and from my perspective, you clearly haven't learned to discern the differences between the two mindsets. Kas is right; the only way any of this is going to change is when the people who are treated like trained monkeys is to teach those who are in positions of power they can't fully grasp is to respect the hard work one puts into developing their respective careers by forcing them to regard them - us - and you, that we are all human beings with varying degrees of experience and expertise which it is up to them, the employers who sign paycheques, that they need to recognize this aspect about who we are as prospective employees first and foremost.

      Delete
    5. Tks very much for your post.

      Avoid surprises — interviews need preparation. Some questions come up time and time again — usually about you, your experience and the job itself. We've gathered together the most common questions so you can get your preparation off to a flying start.

      You also find all interview questions at link at the end of this post.

      Source: Download Ebook: Ultimate Guide To Job Interview Questions Answers:

      Best rgsTks very much for your post.

      Avoid surprises — interviews need preparation. Some questions come up time and time again — usually about you, your experience and the job itself. We've gathered together the most common questions so you can get your preparation off to a flying start.

      You also find all interview questions at link at the end of this post.

      Source: Download Ebook: Ultimate Guide To Job Interview Questions Answers:

      Best rgs

      Delete
  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Having been on both sides of the interviewing process I can definitely sympathize with you but often times these exercises tell you a lot about what its like to work with someone on a problem which I think is one of the most valuable pieces of information you can get from a candidate. Also while your resume paints a good picture of your experience I am always surprised by the amount of people that exaggerate on their resume.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. KC, thanks. I, too, have been on both sides of this process. I was a hiring manager at Novell for years and hired a number of technical writers. I know what it's like to do the interviewing. It's not easy. I had a basic "sanity test" I gave people. None of the ten questions on the test was riddle-like, though. Yes, people distort the truth on their resumes; that's part of the game. After you read a couple hundred resumes you start to get wise to the whole thing.

      Through casual conservation, you can eventually get some idea of how the person problem-solves. There is never any need to ask a riddle. The need to ask a riddle shows a failure of imagination on the asker's part.

      Delete
  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Tks very much for your post.

    Avoid surprises — interviews need preparation. Some questions come up time and time again — usually about you, your experience and the job itself. We've gathered together the most common questions so you can get your preparation off to a flying start.

    You also find all interview questions at link at the end of this post.

    Source: Download Ebook: Ultimate Guide To Job Interview Questions Answers:

    Best rgs

    ReplyDelete
  6. Tks very much for your post.

    Avoid surprises — interviews need preparation. Some questions come up time and time again — usually about you, your experience and the job itself. We've gathered together the most common questions so you can get your preparation off to a flying start.

    You also find all interview questions at link at the end of this post.

    Source: Download Ebook: Ultimate Guide To Job Interview Questions Answers:

    Best rgs

    ReplyDelete
  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Probably one must need to regard about all those circumstantial piece ideas as mentioned here and these will further bring around the vital aspects. interviewing coaching services

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  9. The federal resume writing services are best for job seekers who want to apply for high post with the best written content. I hope this will work for them.

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