Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/10/26/bofh_episode_36/
BOFH: A foray into HR
It takes six pints to really know a guy
"It’s a somewhat unique situation," the HR droid says to the PFY and me as we meet in the IT director's office. "You see we've never replaced an entire department at one time and as such we need to be sure that due diligence takes place."
"Due diligence?" the PFY asks.
"Well yes. From a company standpoint we want to ensure that the successful candidates – especially at senior IT management level – are fully aware of the needs of the company and are of a correct calibre, which is where I come in. We also have to balance that against the technical knowledge that would be appropriate for a person at that level in the IT department – which is where you come in."
"Right," the PFY says, mentally preparing a paraphrase. "So you do the red tape and we make sure they can at least spell IT."
"I... yes, I suppose so."
"Okay," I say. "So where do we start."
"Well, last week I took a look at the shortlisted candidates that you supplied and weeded out the shortlist into a choice of two candidates – with the exception of the helpdesk positions which are..."
"Cannon fodder?" the PFY suggests.
"WHICH ARE PRETTY MUCH THE SAME, so I have six candidates for four positions."
"Right," I say. "So where do we START?"
"Oh I see. Yes. Well, we have interviews for the rest of the day with the first candidates arriving in about 20 minutes. I thought it best we adopt a top down approach, director first, managers next, analysts and helpdesk to finish."
"Sounds ok to me – Where are we interviewing?"
"We'l be interviewing each candidate in the interview room on the fourth floor, although the candidates will be held down at reception until we're ready for them – in case any interview runs overtime. Prior to that though I'll need to see your interview questions to ensure that they're both appropriate and consistent."
"Good idea," the PFY smarms. "So how about we gather our stuff and meet you upstairs in five."
No sooner has the HR droid left than the PFY is in the lift admin utility, silenced the alarm call buttons, disabled the phone and is waiting patiently to flip the lift into disabled mode.
>Click< "And we're on," the PFY says. "I've sent him to halfway between B1 and B2 and turned the lights out. Phase two!"
A quick call to reception to advise them of the new interview location and phase two is complete.
...Seventeen minutes later...
"Send the first candidate over," I blurt into my cellphone.
...One minute later...
"I must say, your interview procedure is somewhat... informal," the prospective IT director burbles as he carries several pints over to the table.
"Yeah, well, it's a CEO thing," the PFY responds. "His view is that you don't really know someone till after they've had six pints - and you do realise that we only have 30 minutes for this interview though, so you'd better get cracking!"
...Six pints later...
"...bastids!" our first candidate slurs.
"And senior management?" the PFY asks.
"Well that's pretty much all my questions," the PFY says. "Simon?"
"Okay, my question is more of a hypothetical," I say. "You enter a room and witness one of your technical persons shoving a roll of carpet out the window into a skip bin. You realise that the auditor that you'd just seen entering the room is nowhere to be seen. What would you do?"
"Isss jus an auditr?"
"IS THE CORRECT ANSWER! WELCOME TO THE TEAM! And now that you're on the team I guess you'll want to sit in on the rest of the interviews?"
"Okay, well you get the pints in and I'll ring for the next one – manager of systems and networks."
Seven interviews later and I've spotted the slight flaw in our plan in that the first questions we should have asked of our new director were "Are you a violent maniac after you've had a few pints?" and "Did you know that punching someone in the face for using the words 'total cost of ownership' is not technically an approved interview technique – funny though it may be?"
"Methinks we made a slight error in judgement," I say, nodding at the director who's getting some more pints in at the bar.
"Two slight errors in judgement," the PFY says, directing my gaze to the HR droid across the road, steaming towards us with an unhappy expression on his face. "He must have tripped the fire alarm with his lighter."
"What's that then?" the director asks returning with three pints of real ale.
"We told the HR bloke that we'd appointed you but he says the deal's off because he didn't rubber stamp the appointment," the PFY says, thinking quickly and pointing at the HR bloke. "He said that if he wasn't involved in the negotiation it would affect the total cost of..."
"Well," the PFY says smugly. "I think that should take care of both our immediate problems..."
"Nope, only one," I say, pointing out the window. "In his haste to give the HR bloke a good kicking he's stepped out in front of a cab."
"Didn't the last guy do that?"
"Dangerous business this IT stuff..."