Well, That Was Thoroughly Unpleasant

Published at 15:12 on 23 September 2015

Had an interview today at a highly regarded company where I was very qualified for the job being hired for and where I would have probably really enjoyed working.

Alas, as luck would have it today is also a very down day intellectually for me. I completely drew a blank at a very easy and obvious problem. Twenty  minutes were allocated for solving it, meaning I should have been able to do it in about half the time*, based on my normal track record for such things, but I couldn’t even get close to a good solution.

* Update: Try one minute. That’s how long it took to solve the problem now that I’ve decompressed from that nightmare.

What is one to do when such a thing happens? Answer: cordially end the interview early. It is utterly pointless to go on: I have never, simply never, ever gotten a job anytime I’ve stumbled even moderately during an interview — and I really stumbled big this time. Going on just for the sake of going on is: a) profoundly unpleasant, b) a waste of my time, and c) a waste of their time.

So that is precisely what I did.

It’s one of the big headaches with hiring someone: you’re trying to decide whether to spend a lot of money on someone, based on a very tiny sampling of who they are. And it’s a statistical fact of life that tiny samples can be highly unrepresentative samples. Just the way it is.

The silver lining is I already have a firm, written job offer. So I’ll just accept that one. Problem solved.

It’s interesting to speculate as to why it happened. Perhaps it was some subconscious desire to move away from the typical startup environment. I do tend to crave change, and the culture of what I call “mandatory fun” (part of many startups these days) at my last job was starting to get to me. The other job — which I will now accept — is at an established firm and is something of a counterpoint. Yet there were some extremely desirable things about the place where I just bombed (I mean, if it was obvious I didn’t want to be there, I would have just rebuffed their interview and signed with the other place already).

Or maybe it was some desire for stability and an answer. If this interview had gone well, it would have created an uncertainty stage for me. I’d be on a camping trip (which I don’t want to blow off, I’ve been camping far too little this year), out of email and phone contact, stalling a sure thing, in the hopes an unsure thing would materialize. This way I have my sure thing before I leave.

Or maybe it was just “interview burnout.” Interviews are hard for me (I’m a very introverted person) and furthermore I’ve had a lot of them recently, so interviewing itself has become something of the sort of rut I depise.

Realistically, I will never know, and further analysis will produce little or no information of real value to me. Moreover, both the missed opportunity and the one being taken are what I call “generic tech jobs”, which I view mainly as medium-term holding patterns until I can get something that really engages my passions. That means something to do with botany or advocating ecological sustainability. Such a thing is going to be a long-term enough process that I’d be broke before I found something if I insisted on such a job or nothing; hence the need for a holding pattern.

Time to get on with life.

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