Thirty years of development taught me a lot about software but even more about people. And fifteen years of consulting wised me up to deception, resentment, sabotage and bad faith. Little schemes and games. Certain behavior leaves a fingerprint, raises a red flag, although sometimes it's a while before I know why.
I did my first hiring interviews in 1994 for my Federal project. Since then, I've done 200, perhaps 300 of them. But today's character, Mr. Harem, was the first to say, "I want to hire a woman". It was our first development hire and I asked why but he just shrugged. Mr. Harem was new to software and startup companies so I explained that would reduce our candidates by 85%, and almost guarantees we won't hire the best choice. And diversity hires come with issues which, as a startup, we probably don't want.
But he insisted so we hired a 22-year-old woman with three years of limited experience.
Our second hire was more specialized and we had no female candidates.
Our third hire was more interesting. Mr. Harem discarded our "consensus" approach and fast-tracked the Web Boy hire. I knew something was up when I shook Web Boy's hand. His face and eyes were guilty and he almost flinched when we touched. A couple of weeks later I realized that he was my replacement and perhaps Mr. Harem thought I was too naive to figure it out. But I've had more experience with the receiving end of trickery than he has.
He switched tactics on the fourth hire. Instead of the full candidate list, he gave me only the "top candidates"; one strong woman and three weak men. So of course we hired another 20-something woman with limited experience but this time "by consensus". And once again, I saw a red flag fly and realized he gamed our hiring process to get his next female hire.
Mr. Harem switched up tactics on our tenth month and I interviewed a beautiful blonde graduate as an intern. By this time, seven of the twelve people in our office were young, attractive women. Our business proposal was rejected by fifty venture capital firms but Mr. Harem was still intent on expanding his harem. I already had Web Boy trying to replace me, Diversity Hire #1's entitlement and Diversity Hire #3's skill level and now I'm getting one with zero experience so I quit the next day.
Later that year, Mr. Harem and Web Boy broke into my Gmail account several times. You know IP addresses are recorded by Google, right, boys?. They almost certainly restored a backup I'd left and until today, only me, Mr. Harem and Web Boy knew. Luckily (or perhaps shrewdly), I moved all my important info out of Gmail in 2014, I use it only for job interviews and cam girls these days so at least they got some hot porn for free.
I signed up to write software, not to manage someone's harem in a company running out of money. What's most amazing about the past thirty years is how often I'm dealing with some other kookiness besides software.