Monday, November 16, 2009

When An Interview Becomes Consulting

When you're interviewing with a potential employee and he asks a specific question about a current issue that his team is having with their content management system, how are you suppose to answer? If you answer vaguely he might think you don't really know what you're talking about, but if you answer completely and might cut the interview short and send you home in order to run down to his team and tell them how to fix the problem.

These days financial companies are the worst because they were used to living fat off the hog for the past few years spending big bucks on contractors to do their development work. Now they have a work force of implementors, but no one experienced enough with development to take on the new custom work. So what do they do? They go ahead and try the development tasks and get into trouble along the way. In the meantime they are creating an environment in IT that is toxic to developers so anyone with talent moves on and the manager is stuck in a never ending interview cycle. But, hey I have a great idea, let's get some really experienced developers in here and interview them and get their advice on our issue! Brilliant! Short sighted, just like this latest rise in the stock market.

So how does you avoid free consulting? Here are some tips:
  1. Confuse the hell out of them, laugh and walk out
  2. Say you want to meet with the developers themselves to solve this issue
  3. Start answering the question, but stop short of answering saying they have to hire you to find out
  4. Answer the question, but introduce other aspects of the issue and build in explanations of risk
  5. Ask if they've ever tested their disaster recovery system, fully
  6. If the manager is an ass, ignore his questions, talk around them until you get kicked out
  7. Ask how large their IT compliance team is and whether they are hiring
  8. Start saying "just kidding" after every other sentence
The bottom line is don't give sleaze balls free consulting. We're valuable and they know it. Now all we have to do is wait until they pay us the big bucks again in 2012.