Over the past 6 to 9 months I have interviewed with quite a few companies. The current economy has created a few new breeds of interviewer, breeds our field could do without.
New Breeds are below:
The HR Ogre
It seems that some companies have decided that in order to filter out bad candidates they would put their HR people in charge of doing the filtering. This is fine when it comes to criminal records, reference checking, salary and benefits expectations, etc. But it is not ok for them to try to figure out whether or not I am qualified technically.
I had several encounters with the HR Ogres. One lady asked me to remove all the acronyms or provider her with definitions of them from a common dictionary. For example, did I really mean “.net”, or did I mean “.com”. OOAD means what? This is not an Architect position it a software position, they want to build software… not buildings. You spelled “is” wrong in several places, you typed IIS.
These clowns come to the interview with a list of questions they just spent the morning looking up in a book or on the web. They ask stupid questions like, “tell me what the sp_OAGetProperty does”, or “on the transformations tab, what does the Phases filter do?” My answer is always, “no clue, give me two minutes with Google and I’ll let you know”.
These guys have always been around to a certain degree, but they seem to be more prevalent now. My guess is management has decided Jimmy the DBA and Elmo the maintenance guy should be in on the interviews to help weed out the bad candidates. Never interviewing before, they figure cool, time to stump some people.
These guys should just wear shirts that says, "Look we are hiring, want to invest in our company?" These guys are interviewing and interviewing and interviewing and interviewing and interviewing and interviewing to look good for their investors. They have absolutely no interest in hiring you.
I have seen this in the past, but it is worse now. A lot of times if you are on the inside of one of these companies being forced to do the interviewing you will be told, “We just want to make sure we have plenty of options in the pipeline in case we land a contract sometime soon.”
These are the guys forced to do the interviewing for the Startup Marketer Interviewers (above). They come to the interview with their latest problems. They know they aren’t hiring so instead of wasting their time they figure they might as well see if they can get some free answers.
You will find these guys going into way too much detail trying to explain the issue. One guy I was talking with spent the whole interview talking about their caching issue and the threading problems they were having on IIS and asking me what I would do to fix it. When I said I would have to spend some time with the application he would try to explain it again a different way in hopes a different view would spark a thought in my head.
Recruiter with a Fantasy Job
The big thing with recruiters used to be meet and greets. They got points for getting your resume, talking to you on the phone, meeting for lunch, and doing preliminary interviews with their staff. The more points at the end of the month, the bigger the bonus.
They don’t do the lunches as often, but they do seem to have crossed an ethical boundary when it comes to telling you they have a perfect fit for you to get you on the phone. A warning sign with these guys is that they will not tell you who the company is if you ask them right up front. They will also not have a salary range, but instead they’ll ask you what you want, and they’ll say that your asking price is fine.
Then they will start asking you a ton of questions. Most of them they should already know if they have found you the perfect fit. 15 to 20 minutes later you will get the line, “now that we have gone through these questions I realize you are not a very good fit for the position I contacted you about. I’ll get in touch with you if anything else pops up.” Then they should thank you the points they just earned by getting your info in the system, but they don’t.
So what is a person supposed to do to avoid wasting their time?
When my resume goes out, I never answer my phone unless I know who it is.
I make all interested parties contact me by email first, or leave a message that has a reason why I must call. So far, only one has left a message that gave me a reason to call instead of email. There was a time sensitive issue.
All recruiting firms must tell me who they are representing and what the salary range of the position is before we do anything else. If we don't agree on the rate upfront, or at least make sure we are in the same ballpark, there is no reason to continue.
All companies must put me in contact with a technical person so I have someone besides the HR person to communicate with. Let them educate their HR person.
Head Hunters really have never been a problem. They have no point systems, and they usually aren’t experiencing some sort of power trip. They want you hired so they can make their money. They usually will tell you upfront what the pay is, and sometimes insist you sign a non-compete before they tell you who it is they represent.
I have a no meet and greet policy. I have been on enough of them to last me a life time. If the recruiter must see me before the interview, they can meet me a half an hour before the interview.
You can usually spot the Startup Marketers if you subscribe to job sites and just watch who is always relisting the same position over and over again.
It is hard to prevent getting hit by the Book Techie or the Solution Seekers. I often find myself repeatedly asking, “On my resume, which job or skill set is this in reference too?” or “I am not very good at memorizing, can you relate it to a skill I have listed that I say I have done.”
Interviewers that are not referencing your resume and digging into the jobs you say you have done, and the skills that you say you have, are usually not very experienced interviewers. Although you are there to meet the specifics of a job description, finding out your history can only be done by investigating things you say you have in your history. Their specific job needs may also be asked about, but they should not be the focus of the interview. You and your past should be.