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BOFH: HR's gold mine gambit – they get the gold and we get the shaft
If you step outside, you'll find the unicycle for the practical test
Episode 12 So the Boss has quit and we have to replace him.
I suggested a piece of office furniture might achieve the same purpose – and not eat all the biscuits – but the Director would still like to fill the position. So the PFY and I are looking through a veritable mountain of CVs and cover letters while the Director takes a holiday.
HR both pushed the boat out and cast the net wide with a job ad so vague that almost anyone could apply for it – and almost everyone has.
So now we're interviewing for a "Business Manager."
"This person," I say to the PFY while holding up a cover letter, "believes he's a good fit for the role because he 'knows how to mind his business'."
"I'll see your business minder and raise you a guy who in his cover letter admitted that he's – AND I QUOTE – 'No Nucular psychologist'," the PFY responds.
"Shortlist him!" I say.
Oh, did I mention that with the Director absent, HR have insisted on placing two of their people on the interview committee?
"What we're looking for, though," I continue, "is a rambler. You know, someone with several stories that could drag an interview out for a couple of hours."
"There was one person whose CV listed every dog breeding trophy she'd received in 20 years," the PFY says, scrabbling back through the papers in front of him.
"Yes, yes, THAT'S what I'm talking about!"
"There's another one that collects biscuit tins?" the PFY suggests.
"How many have they got?"
"A couple of thousand."
"Have they categorized them?"
>scrabble< "It doesn't say."
"No problems – we can delve into that at the interview."
HR aren't happy. Apparently we're supposed to winnow the shortlist to three candidates. However, I manage to negotiate up to five – including a bloke with a cassette tape library of birdcall recordings.
A few days later the first candidate shows up and we get right into it.
"What's your favorite processor socket?" the PFY asks, pen poised.
"Beg pardon?" our interviewee asks, his 12 years in the holistic hemp oil industry not helping him much with that question.
"Processor socket," I say. "But moving right on – tell me, how many versions of OS/2 were released?"
"I … would I need to know that?" he asks.
"No," I respond. "No one does."
"If you were a cloud hosting platform, which cloud hosting platform would you be?" the PFY asks.
Our candidate looks at us with a blank expression on his face.
"Perhaps we could ask some questions that would be directly related to the role?" one of the HR blokes suggests.
"Sure, sure," I say. "If you woke up in a shallow grave in a forestry setting with a lump on your head, would you tell anyone? Asking for a friend."
- BOFH: Tech helps HR investigate the Boss's devices
- BOFH: Where do you think you are going with that toner cartridge?
- BOFH: You'll have to really trust me on this team-building exercise
- BOFH: Something's consuming 40% of UPS capacity – and it's coming from the beancounters' office
"Maybe stick to relevant business questions," HR suggests.
The interviews continue, each applicant being asked for some practical demonstration of their fit for the role. The only standout was the ex-baker who'd come with a pie chart made out of a real pie, representing the areas he thought would be a good fit for the company.
"Well, it doesn't look promising," one of the HR types sighs when we've seen everyone.
"No, probably not," I agree, "though it would probably have been a bit better to have advertised this as a technical role."
"Really? You didn't mention this when we advertised," the other HR droid replies, "or when we changed the job description. As it happens, I think we may have an internal candidate who could be a good fit …"
And now I see we've fallen for the gold mine gambit – they get the gold and we get the shaft.
"They'll need to go through the same interview process," I stress.
"Fine!" HR says, happily.
"So, tell me about your IT experience?" I ask.
"I have a reasonable amount of high level IT experience as I was one of the key players before we went to online sales," our candidate says.
"So you were a salesperson?" the PFY asks.
"I started in sales but I'm currently the head of the Direct Marketing section."
"You mean were the head of Direct Marketing?"
"What?!" our candidate asks, apparently unaware of the reason he was encouraged to apply for this role.
"Perhaps we could move on with the interview," one of the HR types prompts quickly.
"It says on your CV that you're a very quick learner, able to pick up practical skills faster than most?" the PFY asks.
"Yes, I've always been able to do that," our candidate nods.
"As it happens we have a practical test just outside," the PFY says, gesturing him out.
"This is highly unusual," the HR bloke says as the PFY hands our candidate a unicycle.
"No, no," the PFY insists. "It's a practical test – as he's a very quick learner."
"Yes, but …"
"No, it's OK," our candidate says, mounting the unicycle awkwardly. "I've always liked a challenge …"
"I hardly think it was necessary to open the stairwell door," HR notes dryly.
"Really?" the PFY says. "I think he was doing quite well – and he did say he enjoyed a challenge."
"So … maybe we get that baker in for a second interview?" I ask.