Un-SQL Friday #005 – Bad Interviews

By now you should know about #TSQL2sday / T-SQL Tuesday – the second Tuesday of each month when a topic is chosen for SQL Server bloggers to write about. This is something different – Jen “MidnightDBA” McCown (blog|twitter) has decreed that this Friday should be the fifth irregular occurrence of Un-SQL Friday. And the topic for this occurrence is “Bad Interviews”, be it one that we’ve given, hosted, imagined, been the victim of, or whatever.

I wasn’t always “just” a SQL Server guy…

…I spent a few years as IT Manager, and the bulk of my recruiting at this time was for support staff. And from this, I have a few observations.

For the interviewee

  • Don’t arrive two hours late and be surprised when we don’t give you much of a chance. No, really. You’ve screwed up, seriously screwed up. If you can’t even get the time right for something important like an interview, then what else can we expect you to get wrong, hmm?
  • When asked what your biggest weaknesses are, it’s a good idea to stop talking after ten minutes. Actually, it’s a good idea to stop talking after about ten seconds, ‘cos it’s a bit of a stupid question.
  • In a support interview, if the interviewers gives you a bit of kit and says “what can you tell me about this?”, don’t be afraid to pick it up, turn it over, have a look underneath. Seriously – I used to put a Cisco 7940 IP phone on the desk when interviewing support staff. The number of ‘em who failed to even ask if they could touch it was scary.
  • Be presentable and well turned-out. I don’t want to know which bands you like enough to wear on your chest – this is an office environment, I’m expecting suit and tie, even if it’s an office where the general workday attire is less formal. And polish those shoes. And I don’t really want to be distracted by visible cleavage, either front or rear.
  • Don’t tell off-colour jokes – you’re really not going to make me be confident about bringing you into an environment where you will be dealing with people with no sense of humour, 10x your salary, and, most importantly, hair-trigger P45 fingers if you can’t demonstrate some restraint.
  • Show some interest in the process – don’t sit there yawning and obviously mentally drifting off. The world of work is quite often boring – if you can’t feign interest in a 40 minute interview, how do you think you’re going to cope in a 40 hour week? Or, rather, what do you think I’m going to think about your ability to cope?
  • Oh, and don’t come in after a trip to the pub – I don’t want to smell stale beer and fag¬†cigarette smoke on you. And don’t have a curry for lunch.
    EDIT: “fag” replaced with “cigarette” for the benefit of colonials.

For the interviewer

These are all from my dim & distant past…

  • Know who I am. At least read my CV before I get there, and have a clue what you’re looking for.
  • Don’t try to kill me slowly by smoking at me. Fortunately, this isn’t likely to recur, given the way the anti-smoking legislation has gone in the 15 years since I had *that* interview…
  • Don’t say I scared you, just ‘cos I’m better at my job than you are. That’s the reason I’m there, surely?
  • Don’t use an interview as an opportunity to get some free consultancy. By all means try to find out about how I would approach a problem, but don’t ask me to actually solve your production issues there & then. That’s just tacky.

Enough, already!

Yup. I’m supposed to be on holiday right now, but I saw the invitation and couldn’t resist. I’m going to stop there, though, and get back to R&R with a bottle of Red-Gate IPA from last week’s SQL In The City event. ¬†Cheers!

This entry was posted in SQLServerPedia Syndication, Un-SQL Friday and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Un-SQL Friday #005 – Bad Interviews

  1. Pingback: SQL Awesomesauce » Blog Archive » Roundup for Un-SQL Friday #005: Bad Interviews

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