In 2022 I became my own version of that awful ‘how it started / how its going meme’. Let’s review.
I started the year by undergoing a metric fuck ton of interviews. I was job hunting, and I hate job hunting. I hate everything about it. In the process, I got kind of good at them in the long run, but still it was something I absolutely hated. I could, and I think I have, go on for pages about what I hate about job interviews, but there was one aspect of them I hated more than others, and that was the question ‘what is your expected salary?’
We all hate this question. It’s not like this is even partially in our control. Really, people should just tell you what they can afford to pay you, and let that be the end of it. But they need to ween out candidates somehow, and this is a pretty good way of doing it. But largely, the question serves no purpose.
Or so I thought.
By the end of 2022 I was gainfully employed. Part of my duties included hiring.
Some of the smarter people here likely know where this is now going.
Like everything else in life, the minimal amount of hiring I had done in previous positions was nowhere near adequate for the absolute volume of interviews I would need to do for this new position. Often with my boss’ supervision, I began to as many as two interview a day. Often, it was a repetition of the same series of useless questions every time.
But that will be a story for another day.
In my general disillusionment that I was doing truly nothing productive with my life, I found myself one faithful day interviewing a person who, frankly, I found to be that horrible combination of mediocre and arrogant. To make matters worse, he was getting answers to my questions wrong: I asked him why he wanted to do this job and he told me that his other line of employment was not going well. The interview wasn’t going well, and I had managed to ask every questions I needed to to confirm the answer I had more or less walked in with.
Isn’t HR grand?
So as the interview was rolling to a close, I decided to ask him what he expected the salary for this position to be.
I would love to say something like ‘the questions just came out of me’ or ‘I didn’t know why I said it’, but neither of those would be true. I knew exactly why I was saying it. I asked him this because I knew he didn’t have a clue, I knew I largely had him over a barrel, and I knew I could use this to disqualify him.
And you know what? It fucking worked! The guy overshot his mark and a week later I shoot him an email offering 75% of his asking price, which naturally he rejected.
In fairness, that is the standard going rate. The guy thought a little too much of himself. So then I got to send him the ‘I am so sorry but…” email.
It felt like a strategy. It felt like a tried and true strategy, and it made me wonder about all the times I encountered it myself.