Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Geek Interview

I suck at the job interview. I truly mean that from the bottom of my blackened and shriveled heart. And it's my fault, really it is. Self promotion does not come naturally to me... and generally when I see others do their self promotion, my eyes roll back into my head and a little remote control in my head changes the channel to something more interesting.

I also just have, over the years, found absolutely no use for storing detailed, cataloged memories of stuff I have done. From a geek point of view, that data is stored on tape.... and not in one of those tape silos where a mechanized robot hand can grab it and spin it up. No, it is stored off site in a cardboard box in a warehouse on the bad side of town in my brain. And while the tape is probably labeled properly, the box isn't -- and it's on a big ass shelf with about 8000 other unlabeled boxes. And the tape isn't some fancy schmancy reads-almost-as-fast-as-a-disk-drive tape. It is some old 2.5G 8mm Sony video tape that you have to shove into a sometimes flakey Exabyte tape drive.

It's the same reason I do piss poor when fighting with a spouse or girlfriend (and no, dear, I do not mean to imply I have both.) I don't have all my transgressions indexed neatly in an optimized sql database either. It just never seemed that important. Never you mind the fact that the lyrics from every single song I ever heard in the 1970's -- even the ones I didn't like -- are filed neatly in cache and are indexed by artist, title, subject and album cover. I might need that data. Really. I might.

So I don't do well with "You have never been supportive in this relationship" and I don't do well with "Tell me about a time when you overcame conflict in a workplace situation." I don't freaking know. I really don't. I could probably take that as an essay question, take it home, mull it over for a week and write up some long ass bullshit answer and ... it would probably give a 4 out of 5 or better. I mean: that's what school taught me -- if you can write a 5 paragraph BS answer that vaguely dances around the question asked, you get an A+.

Take that philosophy of how school works, let 20 plus years go by without any practice, add a nearly 3 year resume gap, a razor thin area of expertise and 4 cups of introverted[1] and that's where I am now.

Someone needs to sort out a proper method for interviewing geeks. The behavioral interview style just doesn't work. The best interviews I ever participated in involved beer. One was by the pool with a beer... and I worked with him for over 15 years. The other was a weekend kegger in Austin with barbecue, beer and 4 hours of in depth technical screening.[2] Both of these worked for me... and both landed me a job.

  1. Oh crap, the recipe only called for 1 cup. Ooops.
  2. Truth in lending laws require me to mention I worked here one day and quit, but my point was about the interview style, not the job itself.

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