Around six weeks ago, I interviewed for a position with a (nameless) company based in Oxford. The job spec wasn’t exactly perfect (a web development role – it sounded like it could be a step backwards), but I love Oxford – my parents grew up there, and whilst I’ve never actually lived there myself, it’s always felt like a second home to me. A friend also happened to be working in Oxford that day, so interviewing there in the afternoon made it nicely convenient to go for a few beers with him afterwards.
The interview itself started with a quick psychometric test – one generally acknowledged (according to a certain business psychologist I mentioned it to) as being particularly badly-designed. Not a great start. Then the interview itself began, and I learnt that the position on offer was not just the role of web developer, but the role of the web department. I would be the entire technical team. Alarm bells began to ring. I breezed through the technical tests, but things just didn’t feel right.
A week or two later, I accepted an offer from a different company, rather closer to home, and promptly forgot all about my Oxford experience. I supposed I should have contacted them to notify them that I was no longer available, but since they hadn’t contacted me either I guess we were even.
I returned this afternoon from a great weekend in London to find a letter from the company in question. Addressed initially to Barry Price, it begins:
Friday 12th August 2005
Re: Web Developer
Dear Mr Pain
…we regret to inform you that we find your skills do not correspond to the criteria for this particular role…
Aside from being amused by the rejection (and the bizarre typo) from a company which I’d long ago rejected the idea of working for, this illustrates everything that’s wrong with stock responses.
The letter tells me nothing at all. The fact that I hadn’t heard from the company for six weeks already told me that they either didn’t want to hire me, or couldn’t afford to. To be fair, it’s more annoying when a company don’t let you know anything at all after an interview, and refuse to acknowledge emails or telephone calls when you chase them up. This is all too common, and so I suppose I should at least be grateful that the company had the manners to contact me.
But quite why it took them six weeks to do so, I have no idea. Leaving it this long is still almost as bad as doing nothing at all.
The phrase “your skills do not correspond to the criteria for this particular role” is the most annoying by far. My skills are listed on my CV. The criteria for the role were on the job spec, which I read thoroughly, and made sure that the custom version of my CV which I submitted emphasised all of the relevant technologies and skills, as well as mentioning as many of the others as would comfortably fit onto two pages.
In fact, I was required to hand-write some SQL queries in the interview, which the technical interviewer verified were correct, and was also asked to hand-write a couple of text-parsing routines in Perl. I think the technical interviewer actually commented that her version of one of the routines was ten lines of code – she’d have accepted up to fifteen. I solved the problem with just five lines, if I remember rightly.
So in summary, I have a letter which tells me that:
I didn’t get a job at a company which I interviewed for six weeks ago and have heard nothing from since
They don’t want to (or can’t) tell me why
They couldn’t remember my surname for the amount of time between typing it on the address label, and typing it into the salutation of the letter itself. Either that or they really, really hated me and subconsciously decided to address me accordingly…
I can’t decide whether to throw it away or have it framed.