Liz Ryan wrote in one of her LinkedIn columns that people should not give the keys to the proverbial castle in interviews. That is because unethical companies will use you for free consulting. Let us introduce you to one such firm: Anil Verma Associates. For those who do not know who they are, Anil Verma Associates is a consultant for public agencies that design mass transit systems. The San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit System (or BART) is one of their clients.
THE APPLICANT’S 2012 INTERVIEW WITH ANIL VERMA ASSOCIATES
Back in 2012, Anil Verma Associates posted a job opening for a Senior Structural Engineering position on the SEAONC website.
Anil Verma Associates, Inc. (AVA) is currently seeking for an energetic, motivated, and detail-oriented to join our Milpitas/Oakland, CA staff as Sr. Structural Engineer/Structural Engineer. The qualified candidate will have the following required experience:
- Minimum 10 years of experience in design of building and transit structures with knowledge of utilizing reinforced and prestressed concrete, structural steel and masonry
- Knowledgeable in structural modeling and analysis with application of structural software (e.g. SAP 2000 and RISA programs).
- Proficiency in application of the AISC, ACI, ASCE7, and California Building Codes
- Familiar with the LRFD criteria
- Designs and develops structural plans and details; experience in Auto CAD is a plus
- Coordinates with other disciplines as required
- S. in Civil Engineering; M.S. in Structural Engineering, preferred
- E. Structural License in California is required
- Great verbal and written communication skills are a must
This applicant has designed with all of these materials and both buildings and bridges. (S)he exceed many of these requirements. Vic Zikoor called him/her in for an interview. The applicant was excited because (s)he thought this was their dream job.
Pictured above: Vic Zikoor & Dary Haghighi
Instead of asking the applicant questions about his/her experiences and what he/she could bring to Anil Verma, Daryoush Haghighi asked the applicant questions about the Berryessa BART Station. Daryoush Haghighi was asking the applicant very technical questions. Obviously, Daryoush Haghighi had no experience designing structures per the California Building Code. Daryoush Haghighi could not tell what the lateral system in the Berryessa BART Station was.
Most people would feel like they were used. The applicant certainly felt like he/she was being used. The applicant decided to have some fun with it. The applicant thought of a situation where (s)he was the smart kid being bullied for my homework. Guess what he/she did? (S)he gave Daryoush Haghighi the wrong information for the project. (S)he told him that the transit station could be built using wood instead of structural steel. Most of the applicant’s ideas were ridiculously outrageous. The applicant thought Daryoush Haghighi would have consulted with the architects in his office first. Later, you will read what happened.
If only Anil Verma Associates had checked Daryoush Haghighi’s resume before hiring him, they would have discovered quite a few red flags. The applicant found this information in 5 seconds using Google!
According to his online resume, his body of experience before 2012 included:
- The design of the Alsea Bay Bridge in Waldport, Oregon
- Main Street Interchange bridges over I-5 freeway in Orange County, CA
- The seismic bridge retrofit of the I-280 Southern Freeway Viaduct in San Francisco, California, the SR 91 HOV bridges in Orange County, CA, and the I-5/I-8 Interchange Bridges in San Diego, CA.
- Dangsan Steel Railway Bridge Replacement Project located in Seoul, South Korea
Notice there is NOT one building project in his resume before 2012. Bridges in seismically active California behave much differently that buildings in California.
Guess what happened after the applicant’s interview? Vic Zikoor of Anil Verma Associates sent the applicant an email stating they had no work. The applicant really felt used after that interview. Why do firms post ads for non-existent jobs? In Vic Zikoor’s case, he just wanted to see what was out there. Or Vic Zikoor and Daryoush Haghighi were really jealous of the applicant and his/her abilities. Our sources told the applicant that they had no approval to post that position.
The applicant went to work for him/herself designing the BART Milpitas station for another consultant. The applicant learned later that Daryoush Haghighi & Vic Zikoor presented the applicant’s lousy ideas to the BART Engineers. They were struck down by the architects and engineers who knew the building code better than they did. Daryoush Haghighi & Vic Zikoor were literally ridiculed in the meeting.
As for Daryoush Haghighi, he was fired by Anil Verma Associates in 2013. You can check out his LinkedIn profile so you can see it for yourself.
When BART reviewed the Berryessa Station design, they had over 10,000 design and constructability comments. The applicant would have figured it out right away. It took the AVA design team several months to resolve the issues. AVA decided to hire another structural engineer. We bet they had to pay big money for him to resolve all the plan check comments.
ANIL VERMA POSTED THE POSITION IN 2014
In 2014, Anil Verma Associates posted the Structural Engineer position again. The applicant decided to interview for it again. Maybe AVA got additional work from other transit agencies. The applicant felt that because (s)he had experience designing the BART Milpitas station, (s)he would be very qualified be part of the design team. The applicant was completely wrong.
The applicant took a phone call from Vic Zikoor. The applicant turned on the speaker so people could hear it. Vic Zikoor told (s)he the position was only for part-time work. When the applicant asked him why the position was for part-time work, Vic Zikoor stated that he wanted the firm to keep the younger people on the payroll because they were cheaper. We could tell he posted the ad because he needed someone to resolve an immediate issue. When the applicant asked whether he would receive a call back, Vic Zikoor stated he would. What Vic Zikoor failed to recall is that the applicant saved his previous emails.
The applicant recapped everything that was discussed in the email (s)he sent him.
Based on my last encounter in 2012, the work never materialized with AVA after I had my interview with you. You said it was canceled. Back in 2012, you posted a Craigslist ad and a SEAONC stating you had work. After the in-person interview, you asked me for a start date. Instead of a start date, you stated the job never materialized via email. Vic Zikoor, why does AVA advertise non-existent jobs? I have attached the email you sent back in 2012.
Also, why would you hire me part-time? If you are building a structural engineering team for AVA, don’t you want people to service the job during all stages? Does AVA value the SE license? Apparently not from what I have seen! As you said over the phone, you have to keep the young people at AVA instead of experienced people like myself.
You and your firm cried wolf too many times in the past. This time, I think this is another trick because of what happened the last time. Except this time I am not falling for it. Based on what has happened to me in the past, I note when companies do this to me so that others know who they are and refuse to do business with them. I have even convinced major retailers not to supply their products in their stores. It’s worked!
That’s my two cents. Contact me when you have a place where I can develop my career instead of a part-time job. As you said, your firm only offers part time work!
The Applicant, SE
Still looking for a design job designing actual structures”
THE AFTERMATH OF THE EMAIL
The applicant never heard from Vic Zikoor or Anil Verma Associates after that. In 2015, he left Anil Verma Associates. We think he was mad because of all the bad publicity we gave him. After all, if we owned Anil Verma Associates, we would have fired Vic Zikoor a long time ago. As for owner Anil Verma, he never contacted the applicant about his/her bad recruiting experience with Vic Zikoor. It is a shame because unlike that bar Cheers, it is not necessary a good thing when everyone knows your name.