Jumping through hoops, that’s me

Update (Wednesday, November 18th at 4:00 p.m. EST): see this entry to see what happened afterwards.

On the day of my birthday, I had an 11:15 interview with a recruiting company up in the office park wasteland where I used to work. In fact, their office was in the same building as OpenCola, my former place of work, the place from which I was unceremoniously let go because they “couldn’t find a role for me.”

“You don’t remind returning to ‘the scene of the crime’?” asked the headhunter.

Not if it increases the odds that I’ll be earning a living soon.

Photo: Black Honda CR-V.

I drove up there in the Birthdaymobile. Until Sunday, the black ’98 CR-V that I’ve been using since the start of the year was a spare car that my parents had. It used to be Dad’s, then my sister’s, then passed over to me on a sort of extended loan. The lease period had expired, and Mom bought it outright and gave it to me for my birthday. Thanks, Mom!

(I might “Chinamize” it slightly once I’m employed again. I am, after all, an Asian boy. Perhaps a little tint on the window, and Bad Badtz-Maru seatcovers…)

In order to secure this interview, I answered 12 essay questions emailed to me. I presume that these were meant to see what kind of programmer and person I was. I answered questions from technical critques (“What do you like about .NET?” “What don’t you like?”) to geek-cultural knowledge (“Who is Kent Beck?” “Who is Don Knuth?”) to philosophical (“What is it about programming that draws you to it?” “What is your interpretation of the meaning of life, the universe and everything?”). Nine pages of answers later, I had secured this interview.

The company for which the recruiter is looking for candidates is a nice one with a long history, very big American clients with deep pockets and almost no chance in hell of ever disappearing and is run by incredibly smart people. They treat their employees well: well-appointed office spaces designed for actual productivity, sensible 40-hour weeks and a policy of avoid heroic hours, a comfy lounge with pool table, and every week a chef comes in to prepare a gourmet lunch for the staff. Best of all, they’re crawling distance from Big Trouble in Little China, my house.

About fifteen minutes into the interview before my Schmoozer-Sense told me it was time to close the deal.

Me: I think I’m the guy for the position. Would you agree?

Headhunter: I’m going to recommend you for sure. I think you’ll do well over there.

Me: So what happens next?

Headhunter: Well, standard procedure for them is to have two interviews. The first is a simple get-to-know-you. It’s all personality, to see if you fit with the rest of the team. They’re strong on personality. That’ll be the easy one.

Me: I take it that the second interview is the technical one.

Headhunter: Probably not “technical” in the way you’re thinking. The second interview is an hour-long presenation. You make one in front if the president and some higher-ups.

Me: An hour?

Headhunter: Well, it depends. The Q&A sessions could go long. I think one presentation took up to three hours with the Q&A.

Me: Uh, do I get a budget for this presentation, or do I recoup my time costs by selling a “Joey’s Interview: Behind the Magic” TV special?

It’s certainly a hirer’s market out there. I don’t ever recall having to jump through so many hoops to get a job. I’m half-expecting them to make me walk across burning coals, face off against other candidates in the evening gown competition or challenge one of the Iron Chefs as the final trial.

(If we do the Iron Chef thing, I’m going to pull a Bobby Flay and stand on the cutting board and claim victory. Hell, I’ll pee on the losing chef’s face too.)

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