Costa Rican Interviews, Day 1

A tropical depression in the north of the country has created our weather woes of the last few days, and a heck of a downpour this morning.

Following our usual breakfast run, Joaquin arrived to pick the three of us up at 8:30 to take us downtown to the CIS / Rapp Collins office to interview candidates for our new office. We had a lot of people on the list, and we all knew it was going to be a long day.

The ride down was interesting, because it continues to shed a little more light on the places we’ll be seeing over the next couple of years. Also, we passed by the hotel Alex and I had stayed in two years earlier. Surprisingly enough, I’m finding it easier to gain my bearings. I always thought I’d need a GPS to survive here, but perhaps I won’t do so badly…

I joke, of course.

We met Paul, one of our partners, at the office when we arrived. Paul reminds me of someone, but I’ll be darned if I can remember who. We chatted briefly, were handed binders of resumes for the people we’re about to interview, and we got down to the task of prepping for what was going to be a long set of sessions.

Jason had it the “worst” of all of us, with 11 people to interview, each almost an hour in length. Mark was the lightest at five. I came in around eight, with two people going to Jason (as they’d wanted to be project managers).

It was a learning experience for me as well. Over the course of interviews, my eyes were opened to a few things about technology in Costa Rica:

  • The universities teach process very well. This includes extensive UML background, Rational Rose, and PowerBuilder. This is stuff you rarely see on resumes back home.
  • Microsoft is common. Even if someone doesn’t know .NET, they’ve worked with ASP.
  • Schooling is extensive almost across the board. You don’t see many wholly self-taught people here.
  • Costa Rican CVs (resumes) provide a lot of information that is effectively banned in North America, such as:
    • Date of birth
    • Place of birth
    • Marital status
    • ID number
    • Citizenship (and visa status)
    • Sex (male or female, duh!)
  • Cafe Britt (a very well-known Costa Rican coffee company) doesn’t actually make coffee anymore. They’ve effectively become just a marketing company. Alex is going to be disappointed.

Interviewing without the ability to actually discuss is hard. Mi español es muy malo, so I needed Paul to translate some of my questions. That also meant I had to tone down the technology in some of the questions, looking instead to see how these guys thought. (And yes, they were all guys. The sausage party never ends.) It also meant I couldn’t use the interview guides well, since the language barrier proved to be a bigger problem.

We broke for lunch around 13:00, zipping just a bit down the block to Luka’s, a very Tican restaurant. Simple, but oh-so-good. And discovered for absolute fact that Coca-Cola in Costa Rica is excellent. It’s original. Coke up north was changed years ago to use high-fructose corn syrup. The change ruined the flavour and it’s never been the same since. In Costa Rica, they still use the old method, making the taste with sugar. Apparently, even Coke Light tastes good. I’ll have to try that tomorrow.

After lunch, we resumed the interviews. Mark ended up sitting around, however, as he’d run through the gamut of people in the morning. I was done by 17:00, but we ended up waiting for Jason until almost 19:30.

Like I said, it’s been a long day.

Tomorrow won’t be so long, as we’re first going to our new office space. It’s empty at the moment, but it’ll give us an idea of what the space will be. What happens after that is anyone’s guess. I gather I need to be in a meeting to discuss our infrastructure, but that’s about all I know right now.

Two more sleeps until I can see my family again.

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