September 23rd, 2011


Job interview the third

So this is the one I've been waiting for for ages: the COO of a testing outsourcing agency. The interview itself was in the lobby of the hotel (where he was attending a conference); while I was waiting for him to show up I started feeling a little bit like an escort waiting for her "date." Anyway, he finally made it, an American guy of the LA variety, but the businessman type, a bit on the weatherbeaten "but wearing the right clothes" side (glad I'd worn my most casual suit).

He asked me what I knew about his business and I told him; he nodded and said "Exactly," then went into some details of their operational model and what wasn't working right for them (it should have been a great year for them financially; instead they were in the toliet). Then he asked me what I'd do to fix it ("Go to the sites, see how each works, try to figure out how to micro-optimize in the short term, get the team to know and trust me, see where and how the culture needed to be changed to support better working practices - you'd be amazed how much people will do just for a pizza party"). I told him I wouldn't try to chase them around with a stop watch to see how long their toliet breaks were, but I was sure there was things that could be done to improve productivity - like put free Mt Dew in the break rooms! (This was my pre-planned joke.)

So then ... I think there were a few more questions (I said that to make a culture where "not getting the time right was unacceptable" we needed to look at why we were estimating wrong, that chances were it wasn't that the testers were fooling around but much more likely that the quality of the code being delivered wasn't up to snuff, and how did we detect and push back in these instances), then he asked me what part of London I lived in. "Tooting," I said. "How's that as a commute to Hammersmith?" he asked. "Not too bad, but Uxbridge is a pain. Why did you ask about Hammersmith?" "That's where we're moving our headquarters in February." Wow, so he's thinking about my commuting times? Good! He asked me what my salary expectations were and I said something that was about 40% more than I'm making now and he looked utterly non plussed.

I asked him what the next steps were, and he said he needed to socialize the job with the CFO and a couple of other people because he hasn't told them he wanted to hire for the job yet, "And then you'd come out to the offices and do a presentation on who you are and what your background is and what you're going to try to do." Wow! Did he really mean to say that I would be doing it? He said it was going to be a few weeks anyway, and that starting in January (as I am on three months notice) was just fine by him ... so now it's the waiting game. I packed up, headed to the office, and sat down and read some test strategies and answered emails for a while before heading to the theater to see Mike Leigh's Grief with arkady_rose.