I’ve been having the hardest time trying to find a Sales Engineer. If your curious about what I’m looking for, think geek with social skills.

The first member I added to the team was last September. She was the third person I interviewed. She was a little young and didn’t have a ton of experience with application development but when I interviewed her, I just knew she would be a great hire and sure enough, she has been.

I started looking for another person in December and after many interviews and many resumes, I haven’t had that feeling about anybody. Most of the people I interview have very poor technical skills even though they list all sorts of background in programming and development.
So when I talked to this last guy on the phone during my pre-screen, I was happy to hear that it sounded like he had all the proper background to make him a good SE. He was working for a mobile company (plus) that had an ASP product (plus). He listed himself as a technology consultant (plus and minus – I’m typically not a fan of “consultants”) and spent most of his time working with the customer (plus) on their requirements and how to implement (plus plus).

My first indication that there might be a problem when I first asked him to come in for an interview, his initial response was

“What’s the salary range?”

Look, I know money is important. Really. I do. But, for that to be the first thing out of your mouth says a little about what’s MOST important. If money is the most important thing in your life, then maybe you shouldn’t be a programmer, ya know?

But I put that aside and had him come in for an interview after telling him we’d talk about salary range during the interview process. We never made it that far.

While it was clear that he had the technical skills to handle the SE role, I couldn’t get him to explain anything about what he did or their products with any sort of clarity, even after trying to gently and helpfully prod him along. On top of that, he had zero energy. I can’t tell you how many people are so burnt out on their current job that they show up at interviews looking like abused puppies. They just sit there like “Please. take me in. I’ll be a good employee. I never did anything to my current employer to make them hate me.”

So after confurring with my cohort in interviewing crime, I decided that we’d have to pass. A few days later I told him that we were looking for somebody with more sales experience. After a couple of days, I received this response:

“Hrm… Okay. Keep in touch.”

Are we buddies now? Is this IRC? IM? Who responds this way to a potential employer? Even if I don’t want him, maybe my dev staff might be interested. I just don’t understand why somebody jumps to such a casual response so quickly. We might be younger and this might be the West Coast, but I think his response only helped me to confirm my suspicions…