Sitting in the conference room with the in-house recruiter who is whispering secrets about the company to me when the CEO enters. I stand, we shake hands and exchange pleasantries, and he then stares at me, emotionless, for 1…2…3…4… seconds, then sits.
I sit and smile, looking to the recruiter to direct the conversation or at least make the first move. Instead? Silence. I guess this is my meeting to run, then. Ok, I launch with my understanding with where the product is at and the short term upscale trajectory that needs to deliver in nearly 60 days.
The CEO sat and just looked at me, mostly without emotion, for nearly 30 seconds. He scratched his nose (there’s a tell), rolled his head to look at the recruiter sitting next to him, and said nothing. Then he rolled his head back towards me and waited for at least another 10 seconds and said, “You look different than your picture.”
After 30 minutes of rambling questions that were really nothing more than an opportunity for the CEO to speak, he departs and another gentleman enters. A COO of some sort. Suddenly, we’re engaged. Hard hitting questions with no nonsense answers about leadership, tough decisions and managing the unique personalities of a diverse development team struggling with an antiquated code base. This is my realm! Yes!!
At one point he asked how comfortable I would be doing a code review of software written in PHP v4. I deadpanned my expression and paused while waking up some neurons from 15 years ago.
“Bring it. That’s ancient but so am I.”
We talked for nearly 2 hours. He had to run having gone grossly over schedule. The recruiter had been fighting to stay awake throughout it all as we went deep on the tech. Once the COO left, the recruiter asked me, “you know who he was, right?”
“Yeah, James, the COO, right?”
“No,” he whispered, “That was James, this company’s founder and original developer.”