2006.09.06

Job interviews are weird. I know this because I did a few of them this summer. Seth Godin thinks most companies should put an end to the job interview process. He’s probably right.

At my last long-term job, my potential manager interviewed me. He came from the tech world and actually got his hands dirty with code, and was also good at management. He knew how to do an interview, and knew what he was looking for, a general purpose web hacker. Not someone who knew how to ace an interview, but someone with a broad range of knowledge who could get the job done. I also interviewed with the HR person, who seemed clueless as to what my job function would be. I think she thought I was going to be doing desktop support. I’m guessing they just ran me past her because that’s what large inefficient companies do.

There was also a department manager with a great track record. While I was there, he did did two interviews with potential hires (by himself) and the company ended up hiring both people. Both turned out to be lunatics and were either fired or quit months later.

Now, I am known to get the job done. I appreciate companies and managers that are interested more in the end results than micro-managing every single detail that leads to the end result. Part of this is trust. Does management trust you to do your job?

In an interview this summer with a huge-beyond-huge corporation, I made the comment that as far as software choices, (they were/are very strict, definitely not an environment for a rouge) as long as I could use bash I’d be ok. In a drop-dead serious tone, they said that they all used korn. That’s when I was sure I didn’t want to work there. The fact that they dictated which shell you could use seemed a little nuts.

Let your people use the tools they want to use, and see how productive they can be. When I worked in the print world, the people paying for a brochure didn’t care if you used QuarkXPress or InDesign, they care that their printed piece was done right and looked good. Maybe this only works in the world where people are self-sufficient enough to do those sorts of things, but if your people are self-supporting, give them the freedom they want and need, and see what happens…

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