September 14, 2012
When someone tries to interview you, you try to interview them right back
- With apologies to Malcolm Reynolds
A question came up on the SysAdmin subreddit asking how someone could be sure that the company was actually presenting itself accurately.
I think that needs to be a concern for anyone interviewing for a new job. How do you know the company isn't lying to make itself look better?
Turn the question around, and it becomes clearer. How does the company know that you are as good as you say? It's hard to tell, so you have to investigate, examine the evidence, and make a decision. That's why good interviews aren't half hour affairs.
So if you want to find out more, you need to interview them right back.
Tom Limoncelli wrote the great Limoncelli Test as a list of things that you, the interviewed, need to know about how your potential new company treats IT.
What it's important to really grasp is that you aren't a passive part of the interview process. You don't exist to sit there and give satisfactory answers. You need to be vetting them, too. Don't just ask them if they use configuration management…ask to talk to a person who uses it every day. Ask what's wrong with their infrastructure - ask what they're unhappy about.
Everyone has skeletons in their server closet. The difference is that a good company wants to get rid of them, and a bad company wants to pretend they don't exist.
Don't convince yourself that you don't have a choice. Don't think, "because this economy sucks, I have to take table scraps and work for an awful company", because you don't. If you are a professional (and you should be, or at least should want to be), then don't take unprofessional jobs. This is about sticking up for yourself and making sure that you work in the type of environment that's important to you.
Vetting your potential employers is important for your career and for your own mental health. Don't shrug it off and go with the first company that offers you a job. You're worth more than throwing away your future.
edit: I've been asked three times now if this was in response to my current job. Most certainly not. My job rocks. Not to say that there isn't a TON of things I want to fix, but because they explained what was broken during the interview, and asked me how I'd fix it