Hoo boy do I feel your pain. But I also get a sense that you’ve had this run-in so many times that you can expect it. Why not build a pre-screening process for it?
Lately, I have taken to weeding out bad scheduling in the interview phase. I ask a bunch of really detailed questions about the way projects are scheduled. If I like their answer, I proceed. If they get flustered or annoyed, that’s fine too. It would have been a bad fit.
I like to ask things like:
- Does an engineer attend every project scheduling meeting with the client? (Should always be an enthusiastic YES.)
- What is the finest level of granularity for a time estimate when estimating a task or feature for a typical project? (Should be one hour. Shouldn’t be one week.)
- What do you do when you discover that a task you estimated takes more time than you had originally thought? (We schedule in more time. We don’t crack the whip and expect 60 hour weeks.)
- How does the project timeline adjust to handle new feature requests and stories the client might be interested in? (We lengthen the schedule or we remove features. Pick one.)
This might make you seem uninterested in the job, and it may even result in a lower callback rate. That’s fine. It’s better to know it’s a bad fit now than a few months down the road. For them and for you.