What not to expect in an interview…

2011/03/31

I recently had an opportunity to part of an interview, which led me to reflect on the interviews I have given, and taken.

These are some high level transcripts of the interview (words and order not accurate):

  • Do you have experience in working on “X” projects?
  • Do you have experience in working on “X” feature of “X” software?
  • Have you worked with “X” type of clients?

All “X” are specific references to specific software’s, projects and customers. As you might have guessed, the answer to all the above questions was “NO”, and the interviewer said he thinks there is a misfit in the profile, Sorry!!!

What do you think? You think the interviewer is going to find a perfect fit for the job anytime soon? In my opinion, he is not going to, not just anytime soon, but never. Guessing the motive of the interviewer, I guess its best to call the person whose exit created the vacancy, and hire him/her for a higher pay. Otherwise, his needs are not going to be fulfilled for a long time (maybe never).

An interview, in my opinion, needs to be a conversation to figure out if the prospective candidate has the potential to perform the role, and also a potential to take the role itself to the next level. What might also help is trying to find the potential of the person for larger roles than what is being interviewed for. If a person can only execute at a specific role or level, then it’s probably not a good investment considering the person might not be able to take initiatives and solve larger problems that might be encountered. He/she will only escalate, and not introspect.

For people giving interviews, I think its best we analyze the JD and present our ability to perform not just the role being interviewed for, but also larger roles, and a motivation to take the role itself to the next level. It might not work in many cases, but in the long run, I’m pretty sure it will. Its better we don’t approach an interview thinking it’s our dream job or company, there is no such thing. A job at best can be an enabler to achieve our larger dreams. That’s it!!!

A better set of questions to complement the above could be (but not limited to):

  • What are your key strengths that you think will help you perform this role?
  • What do you find as the biggest advantages of software “X”?
  • What do you think are the most important dynamics to be considered while working with “X” type of clients?

And I’m sure many of us have such interview experiences, and all I can say (to myself too) is, don’t be disappointed if such an interviewer does not hire you. He/she does not have any vision for that role beyond execution of the role itself. Neither a good place to be in, nor a good leader to work for.

So, what do you think? How can interview sessions be structured for better results?

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When Am I a Successful Manager?

2011/03/28

Being a manager means so many things to so many people. And unfortunately, success for a manager is also defined in so many different ways that it’s a rare chance two people will always give the same answer if ever asked. These are something’s I see as success indicators for a manager, but then, these are my opinions and experiences, and could be right, wrong or even left. Looking forward for thoughts, comments and of course, criticism too.

Success for a manager can probably be seen in two ways, success in terms of business results and success in terms of team’s performance. When it comes to team’s performance:

  • Success is not about low turn around rates always. More than low turn around rates, success for a manager is also about where and how people from the team are placed once they move out. A team member sticking to a particular team or manager may not only be a result of his/her preference, but also the fact that the manager has not enabled the people he/she is responsible for enough to actually be successful beyond the particular job function. This is dicey for both the team and the manager. It could well be because the manager actually does not think beyond the current role for both the team and himself/herself.
  • Being popular need not mean being successful. This is probably the most clichéd quote, so I’m probably not going to explain this further. That being said, being unpopular with the team and popular with executives is not a sign of success either. A truly successful manager is popular with both the team and the management – and not for antics, but for results.
  • Another key success trait for a manager is when each and every reportee of him/her knows exactly what is expected of them. This could again sound clichéd, but more than knowing what is expected, I also feel it is important for a manager to share exactly what each of the performance standards mean and how a person will be rated during the dreaded performance cycles. I feel every reportee should know what each performance parameter means to the manager, what is the scale of rating, and what each point in the scale means.
  • Also important is the knowledge of what it takes to move to the next level. This sets a level playing field, and also shows that the manager is truly interested in the success of his/her people not just in the current job roles, but also larger ones.

Success from business results stand point of view is actually pretty simple. Whatever you do, please meet customer expectations!!! Sounds simple right? But this is probably the toughest thing for any manager to do. There is so much talk about “customer delight” in the Indian IT industry in particular, but honestly, customers would be more than happy if we just meet their expectations I guess. This was the success mantra of Flipkart.com, and boy have they grown!!! Reflecting on the instances when we were customers, I’m sure we will agree that we will be more than happy if Chinese food smelt and tasted like Chinese food, and being exquisite etc will only be over and above satisfying that primary need.

What do you think? These are just a set of thoughts I could think of, and would definitely add more when I think of them.


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