Saturday, December 14, 2019

Techs from the Crypt: Job Interview Gone Wrong

I was debating for a short while whether to write this or not as it was fairly recent. Obviously my decision is to write it. Now usually I get on with people just fine and working retail I tend to stay in a neutral position and let others steer the conversation. I know there are some personality types I just don't get along with and admit it is a problem with myself to a degree. Unfortunately it seems to be fairly common among the tech savvy areas of things. I go along the philosophy of if it works for what I need, I go with it unless there is a reason not to. So most of the tech in my house ends up with some odd hack or it is just sort of there without much fine tuning because I have no reason to. Quite a lot of tech people I seem to run into are the kinds who... their way is the right way and if there's a problem they see, even if it's not a problem, you should just do what they say because they know best. What does this have to do with a job interview? Well, I recently had a job interview where I almost hung up on the person because they were everything I dislike about certain IT people.

So on LinkedIn I get a message about a position. It looked automated with some grammatical errors, but I've learned to take chances and just go for anything because you never know what door could open for you. I say that I'm interested and get a request for a number and a good time to chat about the position. I give my cell and say afternoon. Perhaps that was an error on my part, but by afternoon I mean 12pm to 1pm because that's what I always heard it for growing up in upstate NY. Generally up there we considered after 3 to enter into the evening, so I expected at the latest sometime before 3 I would get the call.

The time came and past (me on lunch), so I forgot about it and was driving home from work. Around 3.40pm and I get the call. I don't have Bluetooth or anything for my car because I keep things relatively downgraded miss it. When I get home, it's a message from the guy asking to either talk or schedule a time to talk. I thought we did schedule it, but like I said afternoon but some people that means something different.

I call him back and we start to talk. I explain a bit about what I do and why I may be looking for a better opportunity which usually gets a good response, but it fell flat. I may have misread because I just took some extra strength Dayquil to keep a head cold at bay. I chalk it up to that in my head and move on. A few oddities stuck out to me in the conversation.

The first was related to hard drives. He asked about regular and solid state so I gave the spiel about the differences and using SSD to boot with HDD for storage for speed and savings on storage capacity. He then asked about M.2, which I'm bad with names of stuff. Tell him I can't remember and when he mentioned what it is the alphabet soup of PCIE NVME came to mind and I remembered because I just bought my first laptop with that kind of storage. So I chime in and mention that yes I actually have a couple of laptops at home with those kinds of storage and it's my first time using them. He asked about what they use at the school system I work at and I tell him mostly HDD because it's relatively cheap storage and there are a few SSD to boot from on some machines. I get told by him that no new servers have regular HDD because the speed is too slow and at the very least they get SSD for cost effectiveness. He then asks why we have HDD and I explain we are a public school system, we don't have the money to be cutting edge. In the back of my mind I'm wondering where he's been because HDD are still in wide use, still manufactured, and very common. Last I knew a lot of places aim for large storage with redundancy for the best value possible. I shake that off and just assume maybe he's more of the high-end side of things.

The next thing to stand out was when we started talking about Internet speeds and stuff. I know enough networking to get me by in most situations, but I don't do it on a daily basis so I can take a moment to remember things. He asked about my plan and all that and I tell him right now I have a 30 up 10 down. We go for a while and then he goes "Megabytes or Megabits?" I say "Megabits, that's how you measure network speeds." So then he asks me my throughput in megabytes. I tell him I'm not sure off the top of my head, just divide it by 8. He says "yeah, that's right so it's like 2 or something... 2.75." No, it's not but whatever you say. Just for those that don't know, you can estimate with the two closest whole numbers, in which 3*8 is 24 and 4*8 is 32, so it's between 3 and 4. As I said, I was on Dayquil and I also try to be nice and neutral because I worked retail long enough to know how to avoid most arguments.

We continue on, I am starting to get annoyed because the guy keeps either trying to correct me or tell me what the answer is to things I can't remember all the specifics on. Part of my problem is my job is so generalized I can't always shift gears and I'm sure a lot of techs out there know what I'm talking about when the shifts and alphabet soups get confusing after a while.

The questions started getting rather personal and weirded me out a bit, I was wondering if the guy was even being serious at this point. Questions like do I have a lab at my house, what do I do in my free time, what my WAN IP is. I tell him what I'm comfortable with telling him and tell him I do not know my WAN IP.

"Well, are you at your computer?"
No, and it's off right now.
"Well, if you logged into your router, what would it say?"
Well, I have little bit of a weird setup with two routers, the business class Comcast one and my own personal one, so one would be a 10 dot something and the other would be an actual WAN.
"Oh, I see. It's not weird, it's wrong."

At this point, I'm thinking who the hell is this guy? I didn't call him for tech support.

No, it's just a network in a network.
"Yes, it's called a double NAT and that's wrong."
Well, it works for what I need it to and I don't have any problems with it.
"Well, it's wrong. You should put your Comcast router in bridge mode and then it will work right."
I don't have any problems with it and I just go with what works.
"You should listen to me and spend the 20 minutes to put it in bridge mode. I know what I'm talking about, I do this all the time. It would get rid of any weird issues you have with connectivity or VPN."
I haven't had any problems with vpn or connectivity. I'll fix a problem when it becomes a problem.

At this point I honestly wanted to shout a few expletives, tell him to hire an HR or PR guy to talk to people, and hang up on him. I get I do things in ways they might not be done. At work I get keyboards for different chromebooks to connect to other models with some pliers and modify them, doing things not by the books to get the results I want when I want is what I do. I also didn't ask for help with my setup, my setup works for me.

I really did consider just hanging up on him before considering telling him to get some help from an HR or a PR guy to get help talking to people. I opted to finish the call as calmly as I could. After I finished and had some time to think it over, I sent a response on LinkedIn. For your reading pleasure, here's what I said:

I appreciate you taking the time for that interview, but after reflecting upon the conversation, I no longer have interest in a position for your company. The main reason is because your way of talking struck me as a type of person I could not work with or for. I wish you luck with your search.

That was about the best I could think to say because I really wanted to be rude. I'm sure someone may think I am over-reacting or even in the wrong. Maybe I should listen to the high and mighty people who know of problems I don't even know I have. As far as a job interview going wrong, this was a first that went in this sideways direction. I've interviewed with people who have tried to cheat me like a car salesman, people who have no interest, people who think I am clueless, people who right out of the gate feel I have no business getting to that stage of the interview process, but never someone who wants to give me tech support I never asked for.

In reflection as a whole, I am truly growing tired with the stereotypical "IT pros."  My best advice to any IT people would be learn to laugh, shrug things off, and let things go. If you can't, shout them randomly on the Internet, then move on.

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