In November 2009, Qwiki was looking for a designer, and I was interested. I had a discussion with Michael Szewczyk, the Director of Operations at Qwiki. I was then passed off to Doug Imbruce, their CEO. After a good, long phone chat, he sent me their logo and a wireframe for their homepage and asked me to put together an example homepage design.
When you're looking at job candidates for a designer, it's not out-of-the-ordinary for a company to ask a designer to submit a sample design for the target company. The purpose of this is to prove skills, demonstrate creativity, and show that you don't outsource your design work.
In fact, this is exactly what Doug told me on the phone: We want to see a mockup to "verify that one can use a design program."
I agreed and spent a few hours on a sample mockup. Although the design was very "v1", it was enough to prove these points. I sent it over, and heard nothing back.
A week later, I saw the job description posted on another job board. At this point, I emailed Doug to follow up. I again heard nothing.
It's pretty clear that Doug looked at my design, didn't like it, and just didn't respond. Instead of using my mockup as proof that I knew how to "use a design program," he took the design at face-value and simply didn't like it.
After days of email discussions, a lengthy phone interview, and hours spent on a sample design, it is professional courtesy to respond to a candidate, either way. Instead, he ignored my design and didn't respond - not even a BS "thanks for applying (and spending hours on a design) but we're going with someone else" email.
It's stuff like this that separates people in the startup space. There are people who respond to every single email
in their inbox, despite how busy they are, and then there are people like Doug Imbruce who lack the courtesy of a reply to someone who is doing free work for you.
It's a good reminder for anyone who ever does any hiring. When I start hiring people, I'll make sure I never pull a Doug Imbruce.