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Month: March 2016

You were not born scared and self-loathing

Here is a promise, and a fact: you will never, in your life, ever have to deal with anything more than the next minute. However much it feels like you are approaching an event – an exam, a conversation, a decision, a kiss – where, if you screw it up, the entire future will just burn to hell in front of you and you will end, you are not.

— From “You were not born scared and self-loathing”: Read Caitlin Moran’s heartfelt open letter to troubled teenage girls

Never Assume

Never assume the person you’re talking to knows what they’re doing. Never assume they know as much as you. They won’t.

Never assume your instructions will be taken as you gave them.

When you say, “Please type ‘’ into Firefox.” You assume they’ll type in just that. So you’re be thrown off when they get an unexpected result.

They’re typed “”.
They’re typed “” into a search field instead of the address bar.
They’ve not even typed it at all and instead typed something completely different.

Never assume your instructions will be taken as you gave them. Always be ready for anything the customer may do.

Any questions for me

I always walk into an interview with a pile of questions for the interviewer. Some of them will get answered in the course of the interview. Others I will need to ask once we get to the inevitable “do you have any questions for me?” part of the process. Always have questions. A candidate without question is someone who doesn’t want the job.

When I interview a candidate and they don’t ask me anything, I question why they want the job (even if I’ve already asked them.) This post has some great questions. They may not all apply to your particular job hunt, but they’re things to consider and give you a little visibility into the closed box of the company you’re trying to work for.

If I get the job, how do I earn a “gold star” on my performance review? What are the key accomplishments you’d like to see in this role over the next year?

This is a great question and one I always ask. I know I’m going to step into the role (if hired) and knock their socks off. It’s disheartening how often I don’t get a good answer, or any answer at all to this question.

I want to work in a place that rewards hard work. If there’s nothing in place to do that already, odds are, you’ll not see anything but a pat on the back.

How did you get your start in this industry? Why do you stay?

I ask my interviewers how long they’ve been with the company, what brought them here and why they stay. This tells me if we’re looking for the same things. It also tells me what they see as the company’s values. It’s most interesting when I get an answer that isn’t what I’ve heard from the company recruiters or read in the brochures.

What’s the timeline for making a decision on this position? When should I get back in touch with you?

Are you in a hurry to fill this position? I don’t care if they’re looking to fill it today or next month. But I want to know. If they’re looking to fill it today, and I hear nothing back for a week, that’s probably a bad sign. But if they’re looking to fill it later this month then I can be more relaxed in my follow-up and worry about whether I got the job or not.

What is your reward system? Is it a star system / team-oriented / equity-based / bonus-based / golf-clap-based? Why is that your reward system? If you could change any one thing about it, what would it be?

Again, is there a reward system? So many times I’ve worked in places that had no concrete rewards or review system in place.

What is the rhythm to the work around here? Is there a time of year that it’s “all hands on deck” and we’re pulling all-nighters, or is it pretty consistent throughout the year? How about during the week / month? Is it pretty evenly spread throughout the week / month, or are there crunch days?

This is important. Find out the flow of the business. Especially if it’s an industry you’re new to. There is a busy and slow time. But when that falls completely depends on what you’ll be doing, who you’ll be working with and what your customers/clients/partners do.

Government slows down to a crawl from Thanksgiving through the first of the year. Quick printers (like Kinkos/AlphaGraphics) slow down in the summer and pick back up when school gets back in session. Are you releasing products? Working for The Atlantic, they had a monthly release schedule around the print magazine. Finding the ebb and flow of your job prepares for you the busy times and tells you when you can catch up.

My favorite interview question

Recently, I hired my teammate, then shortly after that my replacement and I went scouring the web for interview questions. Because that’s what you do when you have no idea what you’re doing.

I didn’t find this until now but I absolutely love it.

Suppose you could design your dream job that you’ll be starting on Monday. It’s at your ideal company with your ideal job title and salary. All you have to do is tell them what you want to do at your job and you can have it. What does your job entail?

Just like all good questions, it’ not about the answer. It’s about where the question takes you. The immediacy means what do you want to do now and not months or years from now.

At the end of the interview, he’ll sum things up. For example:

Okay, so let me see if I have this correct. In your ideal job, you’d be spending 75% of the day writing code (JavaScript, if possible) and 25% of your day meeting with others to discuss technology and code. You’d prefer to be on a team of about 5 people and you’d like to be mentored by someone with more experience than you. Is that right?

And when it summation matches inspiration, the reason for this question:

The reason I ask this question to people is because I believe it’s important to match people up to the correct position. I wanted to get to know you and your career goals to make sure we have a good fit for you. What I’d like to do now is tell you what I’m looking for and we can decide together if it seems like we have a fit. Does that sound okay?

That’s the interview I want to be in. With an interviewer who has an eye to the current needs and to the future. Since bored people quit. It’s good to know boredom isn’t in the game plan.