Monday, November 08, 2010


Alarm Bell Phrases for IT Interviews

Many of my friends are currently exploring opportunities with other employers. Figured I would share a few alarm bell phrases that when heard should cause their spidey senses to tingle...

Be careful of when you post to a position that mentions new technologies but yet the interviewer is keenly interested in your background and spends a lot of time on legacy technologies. While it is important for a company to have legacy skills to transition from current state to future state, sometimes current state is future state.

If you hear phrases such as "we have a flat organizational structure" or "we don't have titles around here" it is probably a predictor of one of two things. The first, is that no one really knows who is responsible for anything or they will expect you to do things that aren't described in the job description. Be on the lookout for tasks that are below your job grade.

Job descriptions almost always seem to have phrases such as "This position requires a highly motivated self-starter who has an excellent track record of accomplishments". You can translate this into "you should have zero expectation of any training now or in the future" or "we need a loner cowboy who cuts corners and who doesn't have the wrong accomplishments on their track record".

Of course the best alarm bell phrase has to be "we have to move fast" which means that you aren't going to spend time sharpening the saw. This reminds me of Abraham Lincoln's famous quote: If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I'd spend six sharpening my axe.

The absolute best alarm bell phrase has to be: "On this project, failure is not an option". You should say to yourself, it must be a certainty then...

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