BOFH 2003: Episode 4
There's nothing like a Job Interviewing for a little bit of time off work, and with our current lack of both Head of IT (serious burns after a nasty transformer explosion) and Boss (voted out of the building by a mass of public opinion expressed on an intranet website) the tide appears to be out in the catchment pool of potential interviewers.
Which is where The PFY and I come in...
"As you probably know," The HR Droid burbles to the 12 or so interviewer hopefuls collected in the IT meeting room, "we need to appoint a Selection Committee for the roles of Head of IT Department and Techical Manager, IT Department. For the senior role we expect to shortlist five candidates, whilst for middle management somewhere in the region of the candidates - which means that the interview process is likely to be a whole day for the Head of IT, and half a day for the Technical Manager. The second interview process is likely to only take an hour apiece for both roles. Anyone who would like to be on the Selection Panel would therefore have to be able to make themselves available for those interview times."
At this, a couple of selection team hopefuls get up and reluctantly drag themselves from the room.
"The committee is expected to be myself, two of you people, and the Chief Operating Officer. Are there any other questions before we move on?"
"Is lunch provided?" some furry toothed developer asks, taking a break from picking the egg stains out of his cardigan.
Another couple of people depart...
"Can you be on the committee if you're an applicant?" a sad geek from the helpdesk (with delusions of grandeur) asks.
"Interviewers are expected to be impartial."
And then there were seven...
"In the event that the person chosen turns out to be deadwood, are there any repercussions on members of the committee?" I ask, knowingly.
"You know, undocumented bulletproof-glasss-ceiling, legal action by the company for negligence in the course of the interviewing...."
"You mean would the Company hold you responsible? Of course not!"
Two more chairs are vacated by people who realise just how easily your office can be relocated to outside a toilet door or how quickly a redundancy clause can be invoked.
"No more questions. In that case I suppose we should just select from you five. What do you say, draw names out of a hat?"
"What about Rock, Paper Scissors?" The PFY suggests.
Ten minutes later..
"Funny." the HR Droid mumbles to The PFY and I as the sole survivors of the game. "We only had Paper, Rock and Scissors - Claw Hammer wasn't an option."
"Big Boy's games, Big Boy's rules," The PFY comments, putting the aforementioned item back in his backpack.
"Well, I suppose in the absence of objection I'll just get my assistant, Sharon, to go over what we're expecting from you in interview techniques. Sharon?"
"Hi," Sharon says, addressing The PFY and me. "What I'm basically going to cover is Interview Technique, what you should be looking for, questions you should be asking, the manner in which you ask them, and questions that are not acceptable in an interview situation."
I was worried about this - Talk about take all the fun out of interviewing....
"Yes, questions which might be used in a discriminatory evaluation - Race, Creed and of course, Sex.."
"Uh, not for me thanks!" The PFY slips in cheerfully.
"That is exactly what I'm talking about," she snaps.
"Yes, but I'm just not interested," The PFY responds, switching levity off with a >snap<</p>
"Look, I'm serious!"
"I'm sure you are, but I'm just not available - I'm already in a relationship!"
"Right! I'm sorry," Sharon chirps decisively, putting a line through The PFY's name on her interviewer sheet, "but I don't think that you're suitable material for an interviewee."
"I can't believe it!" The PFY cries "I'm being kicked off the interview panel because I won't sleep with her!"
"That's just shameful!" I concur, seeing the bandwagon and jumping on board to see where the ride takes us. "Isn't this against company policy - Harassment or something?!!"
"I THINK Sharon was trying to highlight questions that would be unsuitable for an interview and your partner grasped the wrong end of the stick" The HR Droid replies soothingly.
"GOOD GRIEF MAN, HE'S NOT MY PARTNER!" I gasp, overplaying the horror a little, "JUST BECAUSE HE WON'T SLEEP WITH HER DOESN'T MEAN HE'S GAY!? AND QUITE FRANKLY, *I* RESENT THE IMPLICATION!!!"
"No-one was implying anything by this!" The HR Droid babbles attempting to calm things down before they really get out of hand. "I meant partner at work."
"What, you're suggesting we're ambidextrous!" The PFY cries ."AC at home and DC at work!!!!"
"NO! No-one's suggesting anything of the sort! LOOK, what we mean is that there are certain phrases, topics and questions which aren't appropriate in the process of an interview, and they should be avoided."
"Oh!" The PFY gushes, "Now I understand! But which phrases precisely? The problem with the Internet is that it's a multicultural group with varying degrees of what's acceptable and not. Could you give me some, well, examples of what we shouldn't say, questions we shouldn't ask - words we shouldn't use."
. . . .
Fish, Barrel, Loud Bangs...
. . . .
"Well it's fairly damning evidence, I have to agree!" the Head of HR nods sadly as The PFY plays back the recording of selected parts of our conversation from his PDA. "And obviously, I'm pleased you brought it to me to deal with, and didn't complain at other levels. You realise, however, that this complaint will slow the interview process down significantly."
"We understand," I respond, "but we'd rather do this the proper way if possible…"
"Yes," The PFY concurs. "Everything above board and Politically Correct..." ®
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