Over the years, I’ve encountered lots of people who are so enamored of a tool (software or web app) that they insist that I use their chosen tool to interact with them, even at the most basic level. The most recent example I’ve encountered is Google Calendar: several people have recently submitted “invitations” using Google Calendar, just plugging their desired appointment directly into Google Calendar without first contacting me.
I don’t use Google Calendar, so I suspect Google simply enables it for anyone with a Google Account, or perhaps it’s something triggered by my Google+ activity.
Two weeks ago, a company’s HR person emailed me to schedule an in-person job interview — which surprised me since our earlier conversation had ended with a promise of a phone interview with the hiring manager — and I replied, agreeing to the meeting and suggesting some dates and times. Later that day, I received a terse Google Calendar “invitation,” indicating that the meeting was scheduled for last Tuesday at 1:30, with three hours allocated. I thought the terse, automated invitation (from a tool I didn’t use) was a bit presumptuous, but it didn’t seem unreasonable, so I clicked the “accept” link.
Then, late on Monday afternoon (less than 24 hours before the scheduled meeting), I received another terse notification from Google Calendar that the meeting was rescheduled to 4:30pm, with 45 just minutes allotted. A few minutes later, another terse email reset the meeting time to 5:15 pm, still for just 45 minutes.*
When I saw these two terse emails, I emailed the HR person, requesting that she call me to discuss an appropriate meeting time, and I clicked the “decline” link in both emails. I also went into Google Calendar to define an “event” from 12:00am to 11:59pm every day, in order to block any more terse, automated invitations.
Late the next morning, the HR person called, angry that I had “declined” the meetings, and angrier still that I had blocked her from setting another meeting time using Google Calendar.
Oddly (given her hostile tone), she still pleaded with me to come to an interview that afternoon, telling me that the company wanted to make its hiring decision the next day. By now, a friend (another HR person) had convinced me that this company was simply scheduling pro forma interviews (required by company policy) before hiring someone else they’d already chosen for the job. That helped explain why the hostile HR person still wanted me to interview — she knew it would be a waste of my time, but would allow her to check off the required number of interviews.
I chose not to spend two hours in rush-hour traffic.
The important “take-away” from this story is that by seeking to impose a specific tool on me, the HR person annoyed me, immediately adding a negative aspect to the relationship. Whatever her reason for wanting me to attend this meeting (whether she was being honest with me or not), her decision to force me to use a particular tool (not relevant to the meeting) triggered resentment which helped fuel my decision not to proceed with the interview.