Sunday, January 01, 2017

How bullet-list life style articles are not good for you

I bet you have seen tons of articles on Internet, titled with a number and capital letters, which contain an ultimate lists of things to unconditionally avoid or adhere to. All these "6 Worst Mistakes On The Road", "7 Best Interview Questions", "8 Ways To Please Your Man" and so on. The commonality between them is it tries to simplify truly difficult problems and trivialize the efforts one needs to put to truly overcome a difficulty or achieve something.

The main problem is that these peremptory advises have the same value as an average patient body temperature as a hospital KPI. Road trip can mean quite different things for rugged biker and baby-boomer family, different companies can have different hiring goals and I can't even comment on a variety of extending long-reaching courtesies.

The latest I've seen is "5 Questions Great Job Candidates Ask" - and none of these make any sense.

What do you expect me to accomplish in the first 60 to 90 days?
A good developer should be expected to become fully productive in 30 days, no less. Only a code monkey can become productive within the first minutes after firing up his/her IDE. Variety of answers is endless as well as their interpretations: at the very best the hiring company will get it right - and you both know that you will be doing exactly what you've done before, just for different money. Good for a great tile installer, not so good for a great software engineer. And in the worst case - you are not on the same page and the hiring guy can simply have no clue or give deceiving answer.

What are the common attributes of your top performers?
I'd be tempted to answer "They come to work dressed", but keep it to myself at least until I save enough money to afford working only for  leisure.

What are a few things that really drive results for the company?
If it is "being liked by the manager who gives the performance review", would you expect an honest answer? 99% of time the answer will consist from an unverifiable politically correct corporate motto jargon.

What do employees do in their spare time?
This is easily the top of the line. I worked in bad, good and great companies in different roles. They had one thing in common - I had a very vague idea what people did after leaving their jobs, aside a few closer friends who didn't mind to share. Even if they know - what good the generalization could be? If they street-race their Aston Martins, perform in the marching bands or just sleep the whole time - is this good or bad? Should one reject a Google offer if he is not into massages, bean bag chairs or doorless offices?

How do you plan to deal with...?
... what? Market crash? Tsunami? Alien invasion? I would be afraid of somebody who can give a precise answer.

All that does not mean that the candidate should refrain from the questions. But picking them up from the "Five ways of not sucking but being great instead" is futile. Base it on your experience, watch for the signs, be perceptive - and trust your gut. If you are looking just for any job - any answer will do. If you are in search for the job of your life - you want it to be perfect.

And compare the article above with the ones by Jessica Hagy - she may have the same bulleted points but pictures will make you think :)

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