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Interview with an Asshole

by Milissa Danceur

I have a job that I (mostly) love, in a great community, and I work with an incredibly diverse and exciting group of people developing "killer" technology. Too good to be true? No, but there are some things that are less than ideal. I am the person in my company responsible for recruiting new employees. I live in constant wonder, frustration, and sometimes raging fury at the attitude and behavior of many people who are seeking employment. At first I suspected that it might be generational - not to use age as a discriminating factor, mind you, but it was showing up at first in twenty-somethings. I have found, however, that it is fairly evenly dispersed throughout the general population of the US.

My most recent favorite quote was "Well, do we HAVE to work 40 hours a week?" My answer was "No, in fact, you don't have to work here at all - good-bye!" And the applicant was offended! Ha! This is a start-up pal. Sometimes we work 36 hours straight! We program until we're done - that's why we get the big bucks and stock options, remember. And the last time I checked, 40 hours was standard for full-time employment.

I am always in awe of sheer, obtuse stupidity. I wonder how some people ever get jobs. I look at their resumes and know that they worked for other people before, but I just can't imagine anyone getting through the process and still wanting to hire them. Once, during the process of recruiting a CFO, an applicant called in to check on the status of his resume. My assistant forwarded the call to me and when I answered, a male voice asked me to "Put me through to the HR Director, honey, I'm applying for the CFO position." I then asked him to listen carefully, the sound that he was hearing was the HR Director wadding up his resume. Then I asked if he could hear it actually hitting the bottom of the waste basket. I later dug it out of the trash, shredded it and sent it back to him.

Last week I actually got an email from someone who demanded to know "What your Company can do for me?" No resume, no introduction, just a kind of I saw your ad, and what outrageous salary will you pay me to grace you with my (enormously bloated ego) presence. Last time I checked, WE are the employer. I realize that the market for engineers is tight. Generally I am excited by non-traditional methods of recruitment, but GET A FUCKING CLUE! We don't know who the hell you are, and by the attitude of your email, you sound dangerous as hell. I wouldn't wish you on any of my co-workers. [That is not really what I said. It is what I should have said. We have rules about using obscenity in "official" correspondence. I did respond that employment should be sought elsewhere, as that kind of persona would not fit our requirements. I would really love to find out who this person was, and respond in a more "appropriate" manner.]

It all comes down to having a real shortage of people who want to work, and want to work with other people. It's not age, or gender, or race, or color, or physical ability, or sexual identity or orientation, or any other "category" of division we impose on ourselves as a species. Jesus, I have loads of jobs to fill, and there are so few people out there who can: 1) perform them in a technically competent way and 2) take responsibility for their own work and 3) manage to be productive individually as well as within a team without being bastards. It's funny. Attitudes are just like resumes. I have never seen one actually get someone a job, but I have sure seen them KEEP people from getting them.

Milissa is not alone, Bob Levy recorded some of the Most Bizarre Job Interview Incidents.

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