I had an interview last summer with a local company. I’d contracted for them in 2001 and 2002, but this interview was for a full-time position. I was a fit. I knew the engineering team. I knew the technology. I know technical writing. However, I also knew I wanted something more than being, “just a writer”. I wanted a lead position. I’ve been “just a writer” since 1996. I wanted a position with some responsibility where I can learn and grow and help others grow.
Regardless that it wasn’t a lead position, I had an interview. It was with a series of people. By the third hour, I was very tired. I also felt that they’d asked me the same questions and I was just repeating myself. The team I would be working with interviewed me last. I may now have been in my fifth hour of interview.
This guy just didn’t like me. He felt my blog wasn’t professional. Duh! It’s a personal blog. He was also testing me too I think. He said that there would be long hours if I took the job and how did I feel about that? I said, well this company isn’t really a startup, so why the long hours? He said the company had doubled its product portfolio in the last year and added engineering resources, but they still struggled in Tech Pubs.
I asked if he’d talked to his manager about that. He implied that would be the easy way out. That—you should just tough it out—suck it up. That was just the way it is in this industry: long hours.
I said I’d given my life to startups for the last seven years for little or no return. But, I’d do what I could do as well as I could in any given timeframe. That is all I could say.
I asked if I were hired, could I go on a training course like the customers—learn about the product the way the customer learns about the product. He looked horrified. Like I’d just asked the impossible. He said they would never waste resources like that on a writer. Personally, I felt that was a really efficient way for somebody to get up-to-speed on a technical product. Train them. Better yet, train them from the customer perspective, not the engineering perspective. Ridiculous. He scoffed.
The next guy was the last guy in the list of people who interviewed me. I was at the very end of my attention span and the very end of a tedious day. I asked him what he thought of the long hours.
He thought about it for a moment and said: Yeah. There are long hours. I find though, that I can use my wife as a guideline. I’ve learned to recognize when I work too much. And then I make adjustments.
A bit dumbfounded, I said (rather matter-of-factly): Well. I don’t have a wife. I don’t have somebody to cook for me or clean for me or do my shopping or do my laundry. I have to do that all myself AND I have to work full-time to support myself in California. I’m not willing to put in more hours to make a company more successful than I can make myself.
I think this interview is over.
And I left the building.