I had a phone interview with a stupid startup. They insisted that I sign an NDA before they tell me their business plan. I refused, and said that I only sign NDAs at the job offer stage, never as a prerequisite for an interview.
I already mentioned this here.
They said I was the only candidate they talked to that refused to sign! (I probably also was the most qualified by a huge margin.)
They had 2 other red flags.
1. They hired an outsourcing firm to develop their MVP. I’ve been on several interviews where they wanted me to clean up the mess made by the outsourcing firm that made the MVP. They always say “It’s 80% done! We just need some finishing touches!”, but when I look at it, it’s garbage. That’s a no-win situation. The client isn’t able to admit that the outsourcing firm delivered crap and he wasted his money. He wouldn’t let me do a complete rewrite and do it correctly. Outsourcing your MVP is a no-win situation, a doomed startup. The outsourcing firm delivers garbage, but having wasted their money, the client wants to patch it and make it work instead of a complete rewrite, leading to inevitable failure.
1.a. When I asked them who the outsourcing firm was, they also treated that as super-confidential. Again, that’s proof that they’re crazy. I don’t need to hire an outsourcing firm, I’d just write it myself. The fact that they treated it as super-confidential shows mental illness level paranoia.
2. Neither of them were technical themselves, but they had a “technical adviser” who didn’t actually work on their product, which is another red flag every time I’ve seen that. (If their idea was so brilliant, their “technical adviser” would work on it himself full-time.)
So, I avoided wasting my time on fruitcakes. My “No NDAs!” policy served its purpose. However, I’m kind of surprised that nobody else refuses to sign NDAs? I thought that was standard among people who have at least half a clue? I don’t mind missing out on the opportunity, because they clearly were nuts. I’m surprised that NOBODY ELSE refused to sign the NDA. I’m 99.9% sure I did right thing, but it still is disturbing when an ***hole says that you’re wrong for standing up for yourself.
I saw one article that explained why “Non-technical cofounder looking for programmer/co-founder” types are all fruitcakes. If you’re a potential non-technical co-founder who’s an 8-10, you aren’t going to do a startup. Those people are VCs, hedge fund managers, investment bankers, etc. It’s only the low-quality nontechnical guys who do startups, the people who are 5s and 6s.
Another person said that the software job market is a “double lemon market”. It’s a lemon market for employers, because most active candidates are unemployable losers. (I’m an active candidate, highly qualified, AND an unemployable loser.) It’s a lemon market for candidates also, because a highly qualified manager will have plenty of people to hire from his network or from previous jobs, so he won’t be posting on some job board. When most of the candidates are lemons and most of the jobs are lemons, it’s very hard. It’s hard for the good candidates to get past the gatekeepers, who think their job is to filter out the lemons. Employers get frustrated, because their gatekeepers are also filtering out the outlier great candidates. It’s frustrating when most of the jobs you interview for aren’t worth taking.