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Posted on: Saturday, December 5, 2009 by Rajiv Popat

Fred is struggling to answer the basic Fizz Buzz questions. He is answering them averagely well and yet something about both; his handshake and his personality seems nervous and weak.

Half an hour into the interview Fred seems desperate. He is fumbling; lying and pushing hard to get to the right answer; his desperation to get selected clearly showing in every question he answers. Half way thought the interview I ask him a question which changes the course of the entire interview:

'Tell me three things that you find completely unacceptable in an organization. Three things or attributes that if we had; they would make you reject a job offer; even if we were to give you one'

Fred looks at me like I just dropped a dead rat on the table. He thinks hard; and yet he cannot seem to think of one thing that would make an organization not worth joining.

What Fred; like most programmers who cannot program; was doing dear reader; was applying for a job where the only criteria that would decide if he joins us; was the criteria of us selecting him. 

Put simply; he would join any organization that offered him a higher salary; and had an interview process; he could somehow manage to clear.

Most veteran builders; unlike Fred; realize that interviews are not a phenomenon where a interviewer sits on the other side of the table and asks difficult questions which have to be answered --- 'somehow'.

Most veteran builders around the world that I have worked with; and in particular interviewed; realize that the act of applying for a job; is almost like making friends or for that matter; even dating; where both parties involved have to mutually decide if a relationship would work out in the long run.

If you happen to take interviews dear reader; may I suggest; that besides asking technical questions; you also spend a few minutes driving the discussion towards finding out the level of interest the candidate genuinely has towards your organization:

  1. What does he know about your organization?
  2. How much time has he spent on your website and what does he like or not like about your website?
  3. How many valid and interesting questions does he have about your organization?
  4. How many valid and interesting question does he have about the work he would be doing?
  5. Is he even interested in knowing or finding out about the culture of your organization and how he fits into  the whole picture?

And most importantly; does the candidate have preferences; opinions and a spine strong enough to understand; that of the many programming jobs out there not every job is meant to be 'his' dream job; or even the one that he accepts.

When hiring candidates; don't just look for people who meet your criteria. Hire candidates who themselves have strong criteria; other than salary; that they expect the companies they join; to meet.

Hire candidates who clear your interview with confidence and then have the confidence to turn the tables around and interview your organization.

Hire folks who understand that of the many job offers that they can get not every job is worth joining. Hire folks who take time to know your organization; then actively interview and hand pick your organization; much like your organization hand picks them.

I wish you good luck.

Monday, December 7, 2009 3:12:27 PM UTC
Never been to your site before, so please excuse me if I am not getting something crucial here. But what's up with the ridiculously excessive, not to mention completely incorrect, use of semicolon? Is this supposed to be some kind of pun on the C/C++ syntax or something along those lines?
Dr. Ivan
Wednesday, December 9, 2009 4:32:47 PM UTC
Just my bad habit. I tend to replace commas with semi colons. I have been criticized about this in a comment before and I have tried to dodge the topic with the whole programmers-love-colons argument. :)

On a serious note, it is just a bad habit or careless mistake that I tend to make when I write.
Saturday, September 29, 2012 2:18:02 PM UTC
I love this article, some of the qtnouises are hilarious (particularly the one about being a blended pencil!), there is also another which has caught the attention of the office You have a birthday cake and have exactly three slices to cut it into eight equal pieces. How do you do it? (Reportedly from Blackrock Portfolio Management)' and I am pleased to report we must be a smart bunch as we've come up with the answer!!If you cut the cake twice across the top, making it into 4 quarters, you then have to slice the cake through the middle in order to make it 8 pieces. It makes a lot more sense when you can draw diagrams!
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