Culture Yes, Technology No

I had an interview this morning. It was for a Perl development job, which is different, but related to, my usual work as a Systems Administrator. The coders sit together in an open space, their desks built of doors, in Tellme fashion. That and the right combination of Dilbert strips taped on a cubicle support column gave me a good feel. I was introduced to a pair of easy-going would-be colleagues, who told me about their somewhat unconventional development methodology, and prepared to give me a technical challenge and a whiteboard to solve it on.

I was a little nervous, to be sure, and I usually write code sitting at a terminal, with access to reference doumentation. I conjured a passable, though not impressive, solution to the problem. The “elegant” answer was indeed quite pretty. They asked what I knew of database programming, and I had to admit that, while I once got really freaky with Bugzilla, I’m hardly an expert on database programming.

I know the hiring manager from school, which is a plus. He came back and said that the guys liked me, and ordinarily, at this point, this is where he said he’d say he’d give me a call; Unfortunately, I just didn’t have the technical prowess that they wanted. He asked how I felt about doing QA, which was the only other position he saw coming along. I offered that I didn’t know much about QA, I’d be most concerned with whether I was qualified to do that work.

I appreciated his straightforward refusal.

Back in the car, I started arguing with myself over the verdict, but my rationalizations could not overcome the simple fact that in this economy, they are better off holding out for someone who is not only a good culture fit, but is also better up-to-speed on the work that needs to be done. It is not enough that we both know that I could do the work, the fact stands that someone else out there can do it better, and she also needs a job.

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