A twist on interviews

I’ve heard rumors that from time-to-time, science fiction writers are interviewed on various venues. It has not yet happened to me (there is no reason that it should have, I suppose), but a few months ago, in my day-job, I had an interesting twist on the science fiction writer/interview phenomenon.

I was tasked with screening candidates for a database developer position we had open in our group. This is a fairly tedious process that involves scanning through resumes, separating the wheat from the chaff, and then doing short, 20-minute screening calls with the people who made the cut to see if they are worth bringing in for a full-scale interview. For a month or so it seemed like we simply weren’t getting any good candidates, and even the ones that I phone screened never made it beyond the phone call. Simply not the kind of technical experience we were looking for.

And then one day, I had arranged a phone interview with a candidate that looked good on paper. At the specified time, I called this gentleman and when he answered the phone, I said, “Can I speak to Mr. So-and-so?”

“Speaking,” he said.

“Hi, my name is Jamie Rubin and we have an interview scheduled. Is now a good time?” (I don’t know why I always ask that, since clearly, it is a scheduled interview. But I do.)

“Yes, of course,” he said, “but before we get started, Jamie, I just have to tell you that this is the first time I have ever been interviewed by a software developer-slash-science fiction writer.”

Well, that caught me off guard. I make no secret of the fact that I write science fiction and I do so under my own name and a quick Google search of my name will attest to my avocati0n. But this was the first time that an interview candidate ever mentioned it. And while I hate to admit it, it made me feel pretty good. It also immediately established a good rapport. The interview went well, we brought the candidate in for further interviews and ultimately, he was hired into the group and he’s a great guy to work with.

There is one more science fictional postscript to all of this. The candidate in question sounds exactly like my friend Michael A. Burstein, at least over the phone. Their voices are so similar that throughout the first screening interview, I kept wondering if Michael wasn’t putting me on. I mean, Michael would know what buttons to press, and mentioning the fact that I was a science fiction writer would be one of those. After I completed that interview with the candidate, I immediately called Michael and told him about it, just to see if he would admit to some elaborate practical joke. Of course, Michael had nothing to do with it, but found the story amusing.

And so while this science fiction writer has not yet been interviewed about science fiction, he has conducted interviews where he was recognized as a science fiction writer, put leading an interview on database development. That’s kind of an interesting twist on interviews, isn’t it?

One comment

  1. It sounds like the guy was well-prepared for his interview. He clearly Googled you and used the info he found to his advantage.


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