Sunday, November 07, 2010


Why do those with integrity fail in interviewing...

On several occasions, people have pinged me soliciting advice for an interview with "fill in the blank" consulting firm and have gotten overconfident in thinking that actual knowledge/experience/skills is what makes them perfect for the role. In order to emphasis the challenges faced by good people, I have written a skit...

Anyway, IT people are very specialized--it's hard to do another job, especially when you're a geek - so we're a temp work force: millionaires if you have lived between 1996 and 2008, unemployed afterwards! What about having a world strike and stopping all the systems to show who is the master of the world?! [It's a joke!!]

In Connecticut, if you want to find a job, you probably need to deal with recruitment agencies. The cliche about people who work in an agency is that they don't know anything about technology - they just think they do!

Here is an example of communication failure:

* Recruiter: You're not suitable for that role because you don't know X, Y, Z (Database X, Software Y, etc ...)

* Candidate: I have 12 years of exp with IT: 7 years of professional experience and 5 years in University. I have learned many tools in my career and it should not be a problem. I have a strong potential and I am a high motivated individual. I am a quick learner and you think too much short term, give me an interview and your client will judge.

* Recruiter: You are not suitable because you don't know X, Y, Z

* Candidate: I have 5 years with databases, including 6 months with B; I have also used B for 1 year at university. I am a quick learner. I know very well database theory (SQL, stored procedures, all the acronyms the recruiter don't understand). Ask me any technical question instead of telling me I don't know!

* Recruiter: You are not suitable because you don't know X, Y, Z

* Candidate: I have used 5 years with OS Z at university, therefore I should be able to use it. Skills on a CV are not the only things about a person. Two people with the same profile may be very different. Why don't you ask about my personality and my objectives ?

* Recruiter: Ah ah ah ah (laughter). You are not suitable because you don't know X, Y, Z. YOU ARE NOT SUITABLE (with a very nice voice which means : you're a piece of shit)

* Candidate: Screw you!

Many candidates believe that recruiters should focus on your potential and what you can do, not what you don't know! They don't care finding you a job and they don't care finding the best person for clients since even the client themselves may not know exactly what they need. The challenge for candidates is to simply be pleasant.

Sadly, the world of IT causes people who know their shit to act like they know their shit. Recruiters are looking forward to meeting a quota and tend to focus more on the human aspects of technology than anything related to competency. We all know that companies once they make a commitment tend to have a difficult time correcting mistakes they made and will simply stick with it. We also know that even when you make it past the recruiter, other interviewees are probably squeezed for time and have more interesting things to do than to figure out if you are competent or not.

Let's face it, when the status quo is that IT can't align with the business, the vast majority of projects are either over budget and/or late, this proves that competencies aren't that important in the grand scheme of things.

In terms of the skit above, the candidate made the fatal mistake of only focusing on skills and didn't think to mention process. After all, look at how methodologies are sold. Haven't you yet figured out that the vast majority of people still think that process can be a substitute for competence...

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