Escape From Misery

One of my duties is interviewing prospects for open positions. Rather then ask detailed technical questions, I assess their skills and personalities by getting them to talk and tell me their understanding of things as well as their responsibilities.

In this conversational interview format I also try to sense their daily work environment, and why they are considering this position. I am frequently reminded of Kaczynski’s Letter to the Saturday Evening Review in 1970 in which he diagnoses those who romanticize and dream about what they hope to discover.

C. W. Griffin, Jr., exaggerates the extent to which Americans romanticize the freedom, independence, and adventure of the frontier. In any case, such romanticization should be regarded as a symptom rather than a disease. A happily married man does not daydream about romantic love. Similarly, a man does not romanticize frontier freedoms unless he is suffering from a lack of personal autonomy.

[Ted Kaczynski’s Letter to the Saturday Evening Review (1970)]

How much hazard pay must be involved for people in pointless, loveless IT jobs that are ultimately stupid yet rigorous, and exhausting for the purpose of putting on a complex show that usually amounts to very little real world consequence.

With the eye of a prosecutor, I first look broadly at the story the resume is trying to tell as well as missing or inflated aspects that will draw out a carefully crafted cross examination. Differences between the job requirements and listed skills will prompt pointed questions.

Every person interviewing with me is trying to get away from the job they are currently stuck in. Yet if you were to look at their resume, you would think they are enthralled with it and doing something worthwhile. The truth is they are urgently trying to escape, and part of that plan is to list their resumes on numerous job sites, where recruiters can find them, and meet basic screening qualifications so they can then sneak off to hold secretive interviews.

Interviewers hope that the next job won’t be as miserable as the current one, or at least will pay a little bit more for a similar daily beating they have become accustomed to accept.

Part of my job is to sell them on this new position they could have, letting them dream about the good fit it might be. When they reply in kind that it does sound good, I have done my job to seduce them until a formal offer is proposed.

Sometimes once they have joined the company they tell me the details of the hell they have just escaped. Often all they have done is move to a different or slightly lesser hell. But at least it’s a change.

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