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Re: Number 1 mistake to not avoid during an interview

by EdwardG (Vicar)
on Sep 18, 2003 at 14:56 UTC ( #292415=note: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??


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

When I was a boy of maybe 8 or 9 I remember many occasions where I would enthusiastically approach a potential friend (any kid in the playground) with what I thought was an hilarious opening line. Usually something absurdist; my childish version of a Python sketch for instance.

I made a few great friends (one is still a friend almost 25 years later), but I also had a lot of misses. Actually, mostly I had misses, nearly all the time.

What my young self didn't realise was that my enthusiatic wavelength was not a universal constant. In other words, and to mangle a metaphor, it is very hard to surf with someone if you can't catch their wave.

Of course, now that I'm practically perfect in every way1, I realise that before I can interact freely with another, I have to establish some kind of connection. I have to break the ice, so to speak, and take a long cold swim around in their personal pond2.

Here at PerlMonks, it's easy - "Hi, I'm EdwardG, and I'm addicted to perl". But regular social interaction (say for instance at a party) is a slightly harder wheel to get turning, takes a little more social lubricant, but overall it's something most folk can deal with.

And getting that damn wheel turning at an interview takes a whole lot more lubricant than most folks carry without embarrassment. Within the confines of usually just a few hours, both the Interviewer and the Interviewee want to go from strangers to confidantes. Takes some courage and more than a few personal risks on both sides.

But on balance I would say that the Interviewee has more at stake than the Interviewer (certainly personally, perhaps professionally, and perhaps monetarily). Sure the Interviewer is perhaps looking to make a large financial and professional commitment, but the personal stakes are not evenly matched.

And that's why I strongly believe that it's up to the Interviewer to make the bigger effort.

1I share this quality with Mary Poppins

2Sorry, I have a bad habit of overstretching metaphors


Comment on Re: Number 1 mistake to not avoid during an interview
Re: Re: Number 1 mistake to not avoid during an interview
by chaoticset (Chaplain) on Sep 18, 2003 at 15:22 UTC


    ...I realise that before I can interact freely with another, I have to establish some kind of connection...
    The term you're looking for here is 'rapport'. It's a word that is remarkably offensive to some people, as it suggests a certain shallowness to interpersonal communications to them. It's really not the case -- it's a question of whether the person speaking to you sets you at ease through the use of a myriad of things -- posture, tone, verbiage, etc. -- or whether they are unfamiliar to you, cause you discomfort, etc.

    -----------------------
    You are what you think.

      Thanks, rapport is exactly the word.

      But as you say, it comes loaded with connotations and images of salesfolk bearing Shit-Eating GrinsTM, which isn't quite the idea I wanted to describe.
Re: Re: Number 1 mistake to not avoid during an interview
by sfink (Deacon) on Sep 18, 2003 at 17:07 UTC
    When I interview for a programmer, I don't want to reject them just because I wasn't able to tune in to their wavelength. Maybe it would be different if I was interviewing people for a job in sales or PR or marketing, but not for a programming job. I want technical skills and aptitude first and foremost, I believe I can work around the rest.
    Yes and no. For one, the very best reason to reject somebody is because you can't tune in to their wavelength -- not in terms of enthusiasm, but in terms of communication. (And yes, I realize you were referring to the enthusiasm wavelength. Bear with me.) It is far more likely for someone to gain technical skills on the job than communication skills.

    There's a quote for this. Something like "people are hired for their abilities, and fired for their personalities." I have rarely observed anyone getting laid off or fired for their inability to handle the technical work adequately, but I have known several people who were gotten rid of for not working well with the team, politicking, refusing to pick up their share of the crap work, etc.

    I need people who I can communicate with and who create an environment where we can all develop our ideas and explore the available options. This is possible if some team members are much less technically apt than others, but it is not if some team members are bored, unwilling, or negatively competitive. An excited moron drags the company down only by sucking up salary. An uncooperative genius may do great work individually, but lowers the productivity of everyone else. For anything bigger than a two- or three-person company, that's far worse.

    In short, for a technical job I want communication and enthusiasm first and foremost. I believe I can work around the rest.

Re: Re: Number 1 mistake to not avoid during an interview
by Nkuvu (Priest) on Sep 18, 2003 at 18:51 UTC
    Here at PerlMonks, it's easy - "Hi, I'm EdwardG, and I'm addicted to perl". But regular social interaction (say for instance at a party) is a slightly harder wheel to get turning, takes a little more social lubricant, but overall it's something most folk can deal with.

    Pish posh. It's super easy to walk up to someone at a party and say "Hi, I'm Nkuvu, and I'm addicted to Perl".

    Oh, unless you were referring to the effectiveness of said opening line...

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