Job Interviews of 2011

I’ve been getting kicked in the teeth a lot recently. A while ago I went for a few job interviews. I even thought about going permanent for a while. In fact I even applied for a few permanent jobs. I applied for 3 places. One of them, www.playfire.com, a gaming social network) I really wanted to work at. Another, Assanka, I thought would have been good for me as it would have been able to shift my career path slightly. And also a 3rd company, Webgains, a good place with a focus on improvement.

Webgains said:~ “No thank you”. They were very nice and respectful, which was nice. Originally I thought that I interviewed really badly that day and would have done better another day. But when started being honest with myself, I played the interview back to myself in my head and realised that I have a surface level knowledge of enough of things to enable me to find the answer rapidly when the technical requirements exceed my current level. So in short, with the knowledge I had then, I probably would have never interviewed well. There is an argument against that level of questioning and that my strategy of “knowledge + Google” should be enough. I would have to disagree, the role was for a senior position where I would be mentoring other. Einstein once said, “If you can’t explain something simply, you don’t understand it well enough”. If that’s the case, I was in no position to be teaching others. Looking back in it now it not getting the job has only been a blessing, it showed me how I can improve and I think had I gotten the job I think I would have been really by the content and industry.

Assanka was plain shit shit (double shit). When I made the application, I got this automated response:

Thank you for your application to join Assanka. You have now passed the CV review stage and we would like to invite you to complete our online skills assessment.  The test takes at least 2 hours for a strong candidate so, not wishing to waste anybody’s time, we have only extended this invitation to you because we feel you have a good chance of being the right person for the job.

Once you submit the test, it will be scored and you will receive a response within 7 days. If successful, we will invite you to an interview.”

I thought the email rude. I decided I wouldn’t take the job. In my head imagined them offering me the job and me telling them “No, I don’t like the elitist attitude portrayed in your communications. I don’t care how big you are or how many awards you have won, you are dealing with people and I want to work in an environment with decent friendly people and if this email is representative of your culture, NO”. So to make my visions come true I decided to do the test.

The test was terrible. They showed blank boxes you clicked on to view questions. The questions ranged from easy to difficult with headings for multiple disciplines. You choose your own subset of questions to answer. Once you clicked a question, you HAD to answer it, you couldn’t read it and leave it for later. ANSWER NOW or FORFEIT were the options. If I want to show that I have SOME knowledge in other fields so I could be useful in more than one place, no luck. You can’t read a question and say: “Ok too easy, everyone knows this, I will be proving nothing by answering, move to the next” or “Too difficult, answering this now is going to waste time I could use proving I am competent elsewhere”. Forfeit is forfeit. I had 0 human interaction, so I had no idea what skills they valued in their programmers. Did they use this same test for everyone or just programmers? Do they expect me to have knowledge in all the disciplines? So my strategy was to spread myself thinly across all the disciplines. Most of the questions were worded confusingly forcing you to make assumptions about what they were actually asking.

A week or so later, I got an email. (I can’t find the email so I’m paraphrasing slightly):

“Dear human,

Your test results indicate you would be good at: MOLESTING GOATS.

Unfortunately we don’t currently have a position for: MOLESTING GOATS.

Thank you”

They told me no!? I WAS GOING TO TELL THEM NO! Hmmm… I should have said no before I took the test. No helpful feedback wrapped in a healthy dose of snark for them. It’s no wonder they have the word ass in their name.

Playfire, I’d been eyeing for months and months. The first time I saw they had an opening I wanted it so badly I talked myself out of applying for fear of not getting it – weird logic, I know. Playfire are a cool startup, doing interesting things. If I got the job not only would I would be programming, but also surrounded by content I love. I foresaw much potential and have no doubt (with the correct guidance) they’ll do really well. I talked myself into applying.

I was nervous sending them my CV, nervous doing the tests and nervous waiting feedback. I always found nervosity to be a good thing. It gets me to perform better. That made me confident… or less worried. (Nervosity is ACTUALLY a word!? Here I thought I was being funny by making up words).

I know you can be very thinly spread when running a start-up. So I was surprised and humbled when one of the Co-Founders took time to get into an email conversation with me.

I got sent the test. There was a strong emphasis on performance, something that doesn’t always take precedence in agency work. Even the test questions were mathematically worded. I was never an algorithmic byte jockey, so the test challenging and new to me. It was great.

They very next day after completing the test, I got a reply. Here’s part of it: “you’re clearly a strong developer, but unfortunately not quite what we’re looking for in this role”. I suspect the co-fo was just trying to not hurt my feelings. All-in-all dealing with playfire was most pleasant. I really do hope they do well.

That’s it… I haven’t written in a while… I wanted to write and this came out. The you have it, go about your business.

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