Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Dysfunctional Companies

Way back when I has relocating from the South coast to the crappy middle of England, I was job hunting and landed an interview at a less than impressive company selling widgets used by the water industry. Back then I was feeling pretty desperate but not so desperate that I wanted to shell out £90 in petrol for the sake of wasting my time if they didn't like me at the interview so I asked the agent for a telephone interview as a first step.

They could have just said no, instead they said 'tell him if he wants the job he should turn up or else forget about it'. Not a good first impression, is it?

Like a fool I decided to go to the interview anyway. I was joined in the interview by the bitchy HR/Marketing type (there's one in every crappy start-up), who had a chip on her shoulder against men, 'nerds' and it seems anyone with the balls to ask for a telephone interview.

To say she gave me a grilling would be putting it mildly. She was rude, obnoxious, made derogatory remarks about my appearance and asked if I was a hacker. The director was an ass too. I'm actually quite proud of the way I handled it though, I remained calm, smiled and answered every question politely and courteously.

I got home and told my family 'no way would I want to work with a bitch like that, forget it'. The agent rang me up and I told him the same thing. Then the agent rang me back and said 'you've been offered the job'. I immediately told him where they could stick it. He explained that the lady 'just had a thing against nerds, and so that's why she gave you a hard time'. I explained that that was completely dysfunctional: if she had problems getting on with her colleges because they answered back to her when she was obnoxious and she doesn't like that, she should hire a doormat, which I was not. I would probably have slapped the bitch if she talked to me like that on the job. Interviews are different, you play it cool and see whats on offer.

Eventually he talked me back into it and the grounds that this 'second meeting' (they told me) was 'just to meet the team' - this was to be an opportunity to meet and greet the team and find out who I'd be working with and what projects I'd be working on. When large amounts of money are involved I usually hear people out, so I went. I had nothing to loose.

I was promptly grilled by the technical team. Three little boy-nerds, who were the most obnoxious bunch of little shits you'd ever have the displeasure to work with. The penny dropped. I looked at the face of my manager-to-be which seemed to be saying 'help me out here, I can't handle these teenagers'.

'This is the first we've heard about it', they said. Another bad sign.

I was starting to notice a pattern here: A company that didn't trust or respect it's developers, developers who didn't trust or respect their management. Little to no inter-department communication. Alarm bells starting ringing in my head. This was another Dysfunctional company.

My agent rang me that night to tell me that I now 'definitely had the job'. So I guess I only sort of had it before, right? You lying sack of...

There was, I explained to him, not enough fucking money in the world!

The moral of this story is whilst playing hard-ball with your candidates might sift out the wheat from the chaff to a degree, being inflexible, having an attitude and piss poor communication will show your potential candidates that this isn't the place to be. It's unprofessional and makes your company look about as attractive as an 18th century mill.