BOFH: The new Boss, Aiman, is suspiciously good – for now

Of course our unfriendly neighborhood sysadmin has nothing to do with it

BOFH logo telephone with devil's hornsEpisode 7 So I'm sitting in on an interview committee to choose a new Boss. A new Boss from a candidate pool of one. Aiman.

One applicant never showed, one called this morning to say she had a better job elsewhere, and the third of the four possibles wanted to negotiate his package by doubling his salary and leave entitlement – before the interview began.

So we're down to one.

"Can you tell me about your experience with AI?" the HR droid says.

"Could you perhaps expand the question a little?" Aiman asks. "It's a fairly broad topic."

"Well, I mean your history. With AI?"

"Well, as I said that field is broad, and I'm certainly no expert. I guess I have a working knowledge of it – however, when it comes to matters of complexity I'd be looking to my team for guidance."

"I see. What about your leadership style? How would you describe yourself?"

"Hmm. I see myself more of a lead-by-example person. I like to empower my team whilst also keeping abreast of any developments where they may need a guiding hand."

"Yes. OK. Uhhm, over to you, Ed?"

Ed, a mid-level beancounter, asks a set of questions that only he knows the proper answers to, and Aiman asks for question expansions and again suggests they're fairly broad topics... No one but me seems to notice as most people tend to go into power save mode when a mid-level beancounter starts talking.

"Simon?" the HR bloke says, waking me from Hibernate.


"Your questions?"

"Sure. Where would you store your passwords – on a piece of paper under your keyboard or in a phone password app?"

"Under the keyboard," Aiman responds.

"What?" the mid-level beancounter says.

"Apps can be hacked, but under the keyboard requires physical access," he replies.

"Fair enough," I reply. "Now, if you could be any battery, which would you be and why?"

"I hardly think that's relevant," the HR droid says.

"No, no, it's fine," our candidate chips back. "An AA battery – because it's a standard."


Ten minutes of further question expansions, broad topic identification, and short sentence answers later, we thank our candidate for his attendance and tell him we'll let him know by the end of the day.


"What was that battery stuff about?" the HR guy asks.

"Nothing," I respond. "Because it was irrelevant."

"What do you mean?"

"We're going to give him the job," I counter.

"Not necessarily," the HR bloke says.

"So, we're going to re-advertise?" I ask.

"Oh no, we have a limited appointments budget."

"So I should spin my pen anticlockwise ten times?"


"Because magical thinking is the only move left?"


So Aiman starts the next day – well, sort of starts. His HR-negotiated work-from-home package pretty much means he only has to be on site for the apocalypse, a zombie plague, or Ragnarök – though only if it's on a weekday between 10 and 2.

His first day consists of emailed questions about our strategy, equipment replacement policy, staff culture, and our disaster recovery plan.

Day two, he asks for a breakdown of our Health and Safety Policy, our electrical testing regime, and records of all switchboard thermal imaging we've done.

By day three, people up and down the food chain are already getting a bit tired of Aiman – but to his credit he's made some interesting discoveries, like how we don't have a Health and Safety Policy, an electrical testing regime, or switchboard thermal imaging.

On day four, the PFY has resorted to social media to dig up some kompromat on Aiman.

"Nothing," the PFY says. "It's like he doesn't exist."

"Well, to be fair, he doesn't exist," I admit.


"I applied for the Boss's role with four great-looking candidates," I say. "I pulled three out at the last minute, leaving a ring-in to attend an interview with two pieces of advice: 1. Ask for a broader explanation to any question you don't understand, then suggest it's a broad topic. 2. Always answer as a 'team player.'"


"I want to test my Boss AI package."

"Yeah, you've done that befor... "

"That was an experiment with our department. THIS one's an experiment with HR."


"Mainly because Aiman's drawing a salary, but also to probe the limitations of our HR department."


"Oh, let's not spoil the surprise."

The next day Aiman's email is in Esperanto. Passing it through a translation engine, he's advocating us taking up Esperanto as a workplace communication system because it's the most widely spoken language, and also because learning a language has been shown to help with lifetime learning.

"Would it be safe to assume that Aiman has come off his medication?" the PFY asks, having received an email (in Esperanto) about using the heat rejection component of the server room aircon to create a hot yoga meeting room.

"Coming off his medication. He has yet to ask for a food allowance for his virtual support animal and has not yet suggested that we should solve technical disagreements with a dance-off – but he will."


"Aiman's technically unfireable. He doesn't have to come in and has no real responsibilities outside of KPIs – which he's meeting."


"That said, I think the 'bring someone else's child into work' day will probably be the beginning of the end for him, and he'll get a settlement offer long before he purchases chairs for everyone with a stand-up desk..."

"BUT WHY?" the PFY snaps.

"Well, it passes the time."

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