Category Archives: Business

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.

What about the rest of us?

Update: Facebook and other third party measurement firms reports are in conflict with previous statistics and indicate that overall Facebook numbers are still growing. Three of the firms’ figures do indicate a decrease in the Facebook user base for at least two non-consecutive months. Rightly so, some are saying there is not enough information to call it a trend.

I attempted to quit Facebook the other day. I say attempted because Facebook does not actually let you delete your account. I just deactivates it. Meaning the data is all there. So when you come back in it’s as though you have never left. It’s as though the digital you has just been asleep and everything has carried on around you.

That’s not actually what I wanted to talk about but let me continue down this way for a bit longer. There are both good things and bad things about being in a digital coma. The good thing is that because my account was only deactivated I still have the opportunity to get information I have on there. For instance I had a few appointments sitting in Facebook that I had not yet put in my Google calendar. I logged in to diarise these before deactivating again. Technically I would not have been at that much of a disadvantage if my account was actually deleted, I could have called/emailed the person and I’d have it again. Facebook however, does make it easier. The bad thing is that I feel as a person I’d be much better off from not having a Facebook account at all. To me being slightly less connected feels like a breath of fresh crisp mountain air.

WHY YOU HERE? YOU LEFT US! WHO NEED WHO NOW MUTHAFUCKA!?

 

The other thing to consider is I am by trade, a WEB developer. I develop applications for the WEB. With Facebook being such a large part of the web, is it really plausible that I cannot have a Facebook account. Is it professionally irresponsible? Is it my professional duty as someone who enjoys what he does to have a Facebook account – Arguably to give myself a better reflection of what is happening on the web?

And with Facebook trying to cement itself in every facet of the web, with the bulk of the current web having nearly 5 Like buttons per page, Facebook orientated commenting and also a lot of newer sites using Facebook connect instead of having native registration.

So with the last sentence in the last paragraph, I’m very nearly on the topic of what I want to say. I heard of a new social music experience Turntable.fm today. It’s description was quite compelling so naturally I wanted to try it out. The thing is, I had to sign up using Facebook. This being the other major reason I have been reactivating and deactivating Facebook since I left. The two services I wanted to look at both required an active Facebook account.

This is a worrying trend for me. Well, “worrying” is the wrong word, it doesn’t fit my lifestyle. I understand that everything is better with friends. I also understand that especially in the case of social software you want to tap into Facebook. Your software is social and it’s a pre-built network ready to go, you would have to have a good reason NOT to use Facebook. The thing is I am an introvert and I think right now I want to be a digital introvert now too. I want to be off Facebook, I don’t want everyone knowing my business. And now especially with people losing interest in Facebook, services like this should, if it makes sense, at least cater for my lifestyle too… what ever that may be, native sign up or twitter integration.

Just as an aside to me not being on Facebook, keep in mind if you see me on Facebook in a year or a months time and want to bring up this post to call me a hypocrite, here is my reply: “Fuck you. I do what I want”

I want some of that pie

Disclaimer: This post has not been checked for grammar or spelling as it’s now 3:00 am and I wish to publish this post AND go to sleep.

Here I sit. Doing nothing. I have so many things I want to do: The comic, My Expense Manager, My Game, My Own Custom Tshirts, My Toys, My Painting…  many others.

That is just scratching the surface of what I want to do. And somehow through all that, I am supposed to become a millionaire too. Looking at that list, I don’t think those things are capable of making me money let alone a millionaire. If they can make me money, I don’t think they will make much money.

The expense manager. I have a plan to monetise that but now where near “sit on my butt for the rest of my life” kind of money. My game… some money maybe… but maybe nothing for all my hard work… it’s a gamble. It will also be my first public game. I can make a success of the expense manager as I know the web I know how to make good websites. Games.. I’ve not done before… so who knows if it will be compelling. I think that is a terrible excuse though and giving me an easy out for failure. I won’t accept it.

Anyway that is not the point of this post. This post is me having a mid life crisis. Noticing that I am still poor and everyone else around me has a house, a company that is earning, is doing some form of investment, is just financially sensible or just seems to have a more richer (in both senses of the word), fuller and sustainable lifestyle. All this is happening while I sit here playing videogames and eating baked beans with sliced vienna sausages on toast. I eat that out of choice. I can easily sustainably afford better but I like it, so that is what I do. However, eating like a poor student is somehow making me feel like I am poor than probably I should. I guess you are what you eat is truer than I originally thought. Also, If I am being honest, I only play videogames some of the time… I play a considerable amount less than I used to. That does not matter though as I have filled that free time with watching TV series or movies.

Distractions, distractions. Distractions from making provisions for my future – earning money. Not even earning money at this point, potentially earning money, I am not working for a client who will pay me, the development is for myself. Once the development is complete, I still have to find my clients and THEN ONLY, maybe get paid.

Sitting here… distracting and procrastinating (Even this post is a form of procrastination) is not doing me any good. Especially since I pit myself against those who in my eyes who are already successful and in turn I model my success on their image. Or those who already have established businesses, who already have a piece of that pie. That pie, that pie that seems to be just outside my reach. No matter how hard I try as I move closer it moves away forever staying just within an inch of my reach.

Reach for the Pie - One of the worst puns... ever.

One thing I can admit to is, it’s all my fault but sometimes I have no idea if the steps I am taking to fix it are the right ones.

I also accept full blame for the terrible visual pun in the picture too.