BOFH: Unconventional interview

How many pints did you say you can drink?


Episode 31

"Ah, could we borrow you for a couple of minutes?" the Boss asks quietly, interrupting the PFY's riveting (if somewhat longwinded and one-sided) discussion of RS6000 boot flags.

"Of course," I yawn, getting up quickly for fear that the PFY will mistake my patience for interest and tell me what each of the hundreds of associated boot codes means. "How can I help?"

"Well, I...must say I appreciate your enthusiasm," the Boss says. "But it's just a simple thing. We're interviewing for the new senior management IT support person role..."

"Oh yes, after the previous person left on medical grounds."

"He tripped carrying a PC down a stairwell and was subsequently hit by a 19" monitor!" the Boss says recalling the tragedy.

"Nasty," the PFY adds.

"Yes, although he did claim the monitor had been thrown down on him after he had been pushed down the stairwell."

"I think you'll find that that was just the concussion talking," I add. "My theory is that he put the monitor at the top of the stairs to save two journeys back to the original office, then tripped over the cable when he was carrying the base unit..."

"I..." the Boss replies, thinking about it for a bit. "Hmm, well I still think it was a little unfair of you to press the company to make him pay for the damaged machine."

"It was all entirely avoidable!" I say, neglecting to mention that the way to avoid such an accident was to ensure you didn't mention to an easily-led board member that outsourcing IT was cheaper than contractors...

"In any case, he didn't leave on medical grounds - he was taken to hospital!"

"And where are hospitals located?"

"?"

"ON MEDICAL GROUNDS!" the PFY chuckles.

"!"

"So anyway, you're interviewing for this person," I say. "And you need our help how?"

"We have two candidates and we can't really pick between them because they both seem to be equally qualified."

"Just pick one at random then," the PFY suggests.

"We can't do that, it's not right. Anyway we called them both in and thought we'd have a face to face with them both."

"So you've got them both in the same room?"

"Yes, we thought it would be fair for them to see who they were up against."

"And HR okayed this?" the PFY asks dubiously.

"We didn't ask, it's really just another type of interview process."

"I see. And so where would you see us fitting into this...process?"

"We thought that some form of testing might help."

"You want us to test them?"

"Yes."

"What on?"

"On their suitability for the support role."

"To be quite honest," the PFY chips in. "If you want an accurate assessment of their abilities you'd probably want to opt for a less formal environment where they're unlikely to be on their guard."

"What are you suggesting?"

"I dunno, something less rigidly structured and more aimed at finding out their strengths and weaknesses - while at the same time giving us a chance to gauge their technical abilities."

"And this could be achieved how?"

...Later, at the pub...

"So you realise that while this is a less formal environment it still constitutes part of the interview process?" the PFY asks.

"Yes," both the candidates respond.

"So, who fancies a pint?"

"I'll just have a water," contestant number one says.

"Shandy for me," contestant number two says.

"Good choice," the PFY replies, sarcastically.

"Actually, make mine a lager," number one counters.

"A pint of extra strength heavy!" number two responds.

...

...10 triple tequila slammers later...

"So why do you want the job?" the PFY asks.

"What job?" number two asks.

"The IT support job at our company."

"Oh, that job," number one replies. "It looked like it paid well."

"IS THE RIGHT ANSWER!" the PFY blurts.

"Is that it?" number two gasps.

"Of course not, we'll have to do second interviews with you both, same time, same place tomorrow - the company's paying."

"Oh, ok then. But won't you just pick him again?"

"It's possible, but then you get to appeal the decision because your comments were made under duress and you can't be judged for suitability based solely on your ability to drink..."

"...although that's obviously an important feature in an IT support person," the PFY adds.

"...and after that you'll get to do the whole interview process again!" I cry.

...

"Actually, I don't want the job, come to think of it," number one says. "It sounded like a lot of work."

"Me either," number two says. "Those senior managers sound like a hassle."

"True, but remember the job pays well," the PFY adds.

"Nah, I think I'll stay where I am," number two slurs.

"Me too."

"But the interview's only half over - there's hours to go to till closing time," the PFY whimpers at the exiting figures.

"Bugger," I blurt from the bar. "Two pints of lager and a packet of salt and vinegar crisps, and...Have you considered a role in IT - you'd be a shoe-in with your ability to put up with idiots!!!?"


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