When is your interview?

May 13, 2014

Sometimes it’s tough to evaluate someone – to figure out if you think they’d be worth hiring. These days, since starting LobsterPot Solutions, I have my share of interviews, on both sides of the desk. Sometimes I’m checking out potential staff members; sometimes I’m persuading someone else to get us on board for a project. Regardless of who is on which side of the desk, we’re both checking each other out.

The world is not how it was some years ago. I’m pretty sure that every time I walk into a room for an interview, I’ve searched for them online, and they’ve searched for me. I suspect they usually have the easier time finding me, although there are obviously other Rob Farleys in the world. They may have even checked out some of my presentations from conferences, read my blog posts, maybe even heard me tell jokes or sing. I know some people need me to explain who I am, but for the most part, I think they’ve done plenty of research long before I’ve walked in the room.TSQL2sDay150x150

I remember when this was different (as it could be for you still). I remember a time when I dealt with recruitment agents, looking for work. I remember sitting in rooms having been giving a test designed to find out if I knew my stuff or not, and then being pulled into interviews with managers who had to find out if I could communicate effectively. I’d need to explain who I was, what kind of person I was, what my value-system involved, and so on.

I’m sure you understand what I’m getting at. (Oh, and in case you hadn’t realised, it’s a T-SQL Tuesday post, this month about interviews.)

At TechEd Australia some years ago (either 2009 or 2010 – I forget which), I remember hearing a comment made during the ‘locknote’, the closing session. The presenter described a conversation he’d heard between two girls, discussing a guy that one of them had just started dating. The other girl expressed horror at the fact that her friend had met this guy in person, rather than through an online dating agency. The presenter pointed out that people realise that there’s a certain level of safety provided through the checks that those sites do. I’m not sure I completely trust this, but I’m sure it’s true for people’s technical profiles.

If I interview someone, I hope they have a profile. I hope I can look at what they already know. I hope I can get samples of their work, and see how they communicate. I hope I can get a feel for their sense of humour. I hope I already know exactly what kind of person they are – their value system, their beliefs, their passions. Even their grammar. I can work out if the person is a good risk or not from who they are online. If they don’t have an online presence, then I don’t have this information, and the risk is higher.

So if you’re interviewing with me, your interview started long before the conversation. I hope it started before I’d ever heard of you. I know the interview in which I’m being assessed started before I even knew there was a product called SQL Server. It’s reflected in what I write. It’s in the way I present. I have spent my life becoming me – so let’s talk!


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