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Re: Number 1 mistake to not avoid during an interview

by tilly (Archbishop)
on Sep 18, 2003 at 14:24 UTC ( #292396=note: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??


in reply to (OT) Number 1 mistake to not avoid during an interview

Research indicates that most programmers are introverts. There are reasons for that, for instance it is harder to get the sustained concentration that programming needs from an extrovert. You are unlikely to get displays of emotion like you are looking for from introverts, particularly not in what is already a stressful social situation (the interview).

While I agree with your advice on how to be an interviewee, my suggestion on being an interviewer is to think carefully about what you are looking for and then whether your current technique will find that. Because most interviewers wind up actually selecting for something irrelevant to what they want to be selecting for.

Note to self: my knowledge of problems that interviewers have is from scattered sources, I should locate a good book on the topic and read it...recommendations would be appreciated.


Comment on Re: Number 1 mistake to not avoid during an interview
Re: Re: Number 1 mistake to not avoid during an interview
by Anonymous Monk on Sep 18, 2003 at 15:43 UTC
    I am wary of an assertion that begins with Research indicates that don't contain a citation (and many that do). Especially when followed by a broad generalization about personality types.

    -- am
      My apologies. I wrote that while awake by insomnia, and I didn't want to go rummaging around in unpacked boxes of books for Professional Software Development or The Psychology of Computer Programming (Silver Anniversary Edition) both of which cite the results of testing programmers with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test, and contrasts that with the general public. (IIRC introverts outnumber extroverts by about 3 to 1 among programmers, which is exactly the reverse of the general public. But don't quote me on that because I don't have those books beside me now either.) But you are right that I should be more specific so that people can double-check claims like that. I also tend to not be sympathetic to claims that sound like unsubstantiated broad generalizations.

      Incidentally I should note that I am in the minority of programmers who are extroverts.

        Incidentally I should note that I am in the minority of programmers who are extroverts.
        As am I, and of course I assume everyone else is like me, which probably had something to do with my earlier comment ;-)

        I personally like working in a semi-open environment, not separated from my co-workers by walls and a door, but by natural spatial separations set up by paths and common areas (something like Christopher's pattern 152, "Half-private office" from "A Pattern Language"). I feel comfortable putting on my headphones and ignoring folks when I need to not be interrupted, but like to be generally available. It also helps me give my hands much needed breaks by having natural, social interruptions.

        I would be quite interested to see how "introverts" respond to this type of an environment, and whether it has an impact on their general outlook. I suspect if I spent most of my waking day in a room by myself with a door closed that I would consider myself more introverted than I do now.

        Okay, I'm done rambling now ;-) Thanks for the citations.

        -- am
Re: Re: Number 1 mistake to not avoid during an interview
by bsb (Priest) on Sep 19, 2003 at 03:30 UTC
    I think it's still important to look for emotions, interest and sociability. You just have to be more subtle about it with introverts or people nervous in interviews.

    With regard to being careful what you select for, I'd have to agree with sfink that personality is a big factor. If someone's personality is going to impact negatively on the workplace then you must consider that. Regardless of technical or other skills.

    I'm an introvert but I can usually put on the extrovert suit for job interviews. I'd probably play with the interactive screen for a bit then tell them why it's still no good.

    Caring for Your Introvert
    Shy people are anxious or frightened or self-excoriating in social settings; introverts generally are not.
    That's his take at least (and mine).

Re: Re: Number 1 mistake to not avoid during an interview
by allolex (Curate) on Sep 21, 2003 at 09:30 UTC

    Not to mention the potential numbers of programmers with Asperger Syndrome:

    It's a familiar joke in the industry that many of the hardcore programmers in IT strongholds like Intel, Adobe, and Silicon Graphics - coming to work early, leaving late, sucking down Big Gulps in their cubicles while they code for hours - are residing somewhere in Asperger's domain. Kathryn Stewart, director of the Orion Academy, a high school for high-functioning kids in Moraga, California, calls Asperger's syndrome "the engineers' disorder." Bill Gates is regularly diagnosed in the press: His single-minded focus on technical minutiae, rocking motions, and flat tone of voice are all suggestive of an adult with some trace of the disorder. Dov's father told me that his friends in the Valley say many of their coworkers "could be diagnosed with ODD - they're odd." In Microserfs, novelist Douglas Coupland observes, "I think all tech people are slightly autistic."
    (Steve Silberman. 2003. "The Geek Syndrome", in Wired.)

    --
    Allolex

      I am somewhat dubious of the amount of that which is theorized to exist.

      No, I am not dubious that Asperger's Syndrome exists. Or that it could be positively correlated with being a geek.

      But my observation of psychologists is that they go through fads of diagnosis. I would bet that a lot of kids who are currently being diagnosed would not have been diagnosed a few years ago, and most would not be so diagnosed in a few years. Most are probably within the normal range of human behaviour and are just fine. Remember that psychology is the "profession" which was responsible for mass misdiagnoses of childhood abuse (see False Memory Syndrome), electroshock therapy, frontal lobotomies, etc, etc, etc. While I acknowledge the difficulties in establishing a real science of human behaviour (the lack of useful models much simpler than a human is a non-trivial problem), I reserve a substantial amount of doubt on their claims.

      This goes double when their claims allow non-technical people to take pot-shots at people who are otherwise put on a pedestal. (People have a strong tendancy to avoid uncomfortable comparisons with others, typically either by elevating the others to a god-like status where you don't have to compare, or by cutting the idol down to subhuman status so that the comparison is more comfortable.)

      But this is a generalized level of doubt. I have not done more than read the general articles and had a gut level reaction. If I cared then I would look into it farther. Until then I don't know, but am unconvinced that self-proclaimed experts know either.

      Disclaimer: As a kid I was diagnosed as having childhood schizophrenia by someone who was thought to be an expert on the topic. For a variety of reasons I am confident that the diagnosis was ridiculously wrong. And that initial experience may have permanently biased me on the topic of psychologists...

        But my observation of psychologists is that they go through fads of diagnosis. I would bet that a lot of kids who are currently being diagnosed would not have been diagnosed a few years ago, and most would not be so diagnosed in a few years. Most are probably within the normal range of human behaviour and are just fine.

        The psychiatric journal reports on AS specifically refute the diagnosis fad theory, according to an NPR report on the topic. They (the articles in the journals, written by psychiatrists) also cited the reason for a certain underdiagnosis as being due to the marginality of the behavior of AS subjects, i.e. their behavior was considered a bit strange (marginal), but not necessarily beyond the range of what people consider to be "normal". A study of such a case can be found here.

        Remember that psychology is the "profession" which was responsible for mass misdiagnoses of childhood abuse (see False Memory Syndrome), electroshock therapy, frontal lobotomies, etc, etc, etc.

        No need to remind me ;) (This is common knowledge.) But also remember that the practice of medicine used to involve blood-letting. Substantial progress has been made in both areas.

        This goes double when their claims allow non-technical people to take pot-shots at people who are otherwise put on a pedestal.

        I think you are underestimating "people" here, but your suspicion may have some merit in certain individuals. In any case, pot-shots are also fired at non-technical people.

        But this is a generalized level of doubt. I have not done more than read the general articles and had a gut level reaction. If I cared then I would look into it farther. Until then I don't know, but am unconvinced that self-proclaimed experts know either.

        The experts in this case are a bit more than self-proclaimed. What you are saying amounts to "I don't know anything about this, but I won't give anyone else's claim the benefit of the doubt." You apparently feel strongly about this topic, so I think you might want to look into the claims in a little more detail before rejecting them too strongly. :)

        Disclaimer: As a kid I was diagnosed as having childhood schizophrenia by someone who was thought to be an expert on the topic. For a variety of reasons I am confident that the diagnosis was ridiculously wrong. And that initial experience may have permanently biased me on the topic of psychologists...

        Well, your forthrightness definitely goes to your credit. ( At least you didn't start quoting L. Ron Hubbard :P ... a reference to the anti-psychologist theme throughout Mission Earth)

        --
        Allolex

        Update 2003-09-22 16:02:43 CEST: changes above underlined.

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