Saturday, July 07, 2007

Job Search Takes Discouraging Turn

You may recall that, last week, I wrote in a post about job leads:
The guy at the Online Payment Subsidiary with whom I would be doing the interview on Friday just e-mailed me to let me know that the time that I agreed on won't work now. So it will either be later on in the afternoon on Friday or possibly a half hour after my joint counseling session on Monday (yech). I expressed a preference for the Friday afternoon time, but I'm making myself as flexible as possible.

I forgot to post a follow-up that the person in question failed to call me at either time. On Tuesday, I e-mailed the interview coordinator to let her know that I had not been contacted by the interviewer and was still interested in carrying out the interview. I got an e-mail Thursday evening giving me a choice of Friday afternoon or sometime on Monday. Figuring the sooner, the better, I opted for the earlier time.

Last week, when I received the reschedule e-mail directly from the interviewer, I ran the guy's name through a search engine. I turned up two pieces of useful information. One was good, the other not so good.

The good info was that this guy had given a presentation recently at a company sponsored development conference, and his talk materials were available for download. This would give me material from which I could prepare and dream up well targeted questions.

The bad info came in the form of a personal website maintained by he and his wife. It was pretty clear from the content that they were quite publicly pious. I have no problem with people who have deeply held religious beliefs, but to paraphrase a couple lines from a recent post over at Mr. Nice Guy, there are two different varieties of this species:

  • Pretty sharp people who have some pretty thought provoking things to say.

  • Not so sharp people who think they have thought provoking things to say but actually are full of hot gas.

Therese and Recovering Soul and others who frequent this blog belong to the former. My interviewer clearly belonged to the latter, folks who could find obscure verses from the book of Leviticus to determine which brand of oil filter to use. I started to worry that he wouldn't be fond of my current family situation

The call came on Friday afternoon as planned, and sure enough, it was one of the first things that came up in the interview. He asked me about the history of my interviewing process with the company. He knew that I had received an offer with the another department in April, then turned it down on the basis of cost of living, got another offer with the same team in the desert Southwest, but then asked for a position in the Silicon Valley again.

I tried to stay away from references to family, emphasizing the poor quality of the job market here and the need to move into an area with better opportunities. He started asking questions about whether my family would be coming with me and wondered how well I would fare being away from them. I think he made some reference to his own role as a father and how difficult it would be for him. He said that he had serious concerns about such an arrangement.

We burned up 10 - 15 minutes of a one hour interview just on that topic. He touched on it again about 3/4 of the way through, asking me whether I had plans to move the rest of my family out there. I talked about the possibility of them moving out at a later time (more lie than truth, cringe), but I said that there wasn't a fixed plan.

Other than those awkward exchanges, the conversation went pretty well. He let slip that he would have liked to have me come out to their Silicon Valley offices to do another interview cycle in person with his group, but that the HR guy had told him that due to budgetary constraints that wouldn't be possible. With this in mind, I let him know at the end of the interview that if he or his team members would need additional information to make a decision, I would make myself available.

He gave me a chance to ask him some questions, and I asked him six or seven ones that dealt with the specifics of what they do, how they fit into the bigger picture of the company's goals, and what he looks for in evaluating the fitness of a candidate. I wanted to drive home the notion that I was truly interested in both the company and the work of his team.

After I got off the phone, I felt ooky, as if I could feel the job was slipping through my fingers like dry, fine grained sand. I remember feeling angry and struggling to soothe myself.

I got home around 6 p.m., feeling drained. I tried my best to interact with the kids and converse with my wife, but all I could think was, "I WANT OUT OF THIS MARRIAGE. I DON'T CARE IF I GET OUT OF THIS PLACE. I WANT TO WASTE AS LITTLE OF MY FUTURE LIFESPAN MARRIED TO THIS WOMAN AS POSSIBLE."

In retrospect, the probing questions of the family situation probably would send a seasoned human resources professional into a fit of EEOC-induced apoplexy. If the HR folks contact me next week to let me know that I was denied the position and there are no further options for hiring, I am tempted to make them aware of interviewer's gaffe.

On Friday afteroon, I got a call from the recruiter who was representing the Local Growing Network Telephony Software Company. She said that she had in her notes that she was supposed to follow up with me earlier this week, but she could not remember what for. Now there's a way to build confidence! Loose track of your contacts and count on them to remember all the details.

After I summarized what we had talked about last time, she said she would send me some links to a programming tests. It looks like she sent me one for C++ and one for the .NET Framework, even though I told her that I had no experience developing for the latter.
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