The Accidental Exit

I once hired someone to work with me on a few projects but we never had the chance to actually, side-by-side work together during our tenure together.

They left before that could happen – I called it the Accidental Exit.

Sure we talked, discussed progress on projects and we might have been on the same project but in varying different roles, but we were never in the trenches together for a project.

When they left they told me their one disappointment was this lost opportunity on never really working together – being in the trenches together, slogging through the problems.

I missed this opportunity and this scenario really contributes to some of the current literature where people are not always seeking out a company to work with but the individuals and teams.

A lesson worth sharing.

One Rule for Interviews

If there is one rule for what you need to know before you enter the room for an Interview it is this –

Know the company you are interviewing with

That’s it, go to their website (you have a browser right), read their “About Us” section, read their latest blog posts, see if they are in the news, follow them on LinkedIn and Twitter.

If I were to hazard a guess, that would probably take you about 30 – 45 minutes.

And here’s the benefit to you – halfway through that process you are going to realize whether you really want to work at this company or if you want to call back the recruiter and cancel the interview.

Both are completely acceptable decisions, up until that point you have not wasted anyone’s time.

But showing up to an interview without knowing that most basic of information shows that you – don’t care about the company, see this as just another job and not a career choice and really don’t want to be there.

Beyond wasting the person’s time that is interviewing you, you have completely wasted your time interviewing for a company that you don’t really care about.

Hire Someone Better

But, but, but what about my ego?

Really, we’re still worrying about your ego?

Look, if you really want to make sure that for the rest of eternity, in your world, you are and always will be the Top Dog then please continue to do the following;

  • Ask the most edge case questions in an interview that no one would ever know just so you can feel smarter.
  • Filter out people who give you that pang in your stomach because you now know, you would need to step up your game.
  • Instead of focussing on what you are good at, focus on learning a lot of everything about a lot of some things with the hope that you can come close to being considered at the same level as the person you are interviewing.
  • Make up an excuse for not hiring them – “they smelled bad”, “couldn’t understand what they were saying” – when you know the real reason is because they could school you with their eyes closed.

Go ahead and keep doing that and welcome the culture of YOU.  The culture where no one can exceed you and no one will ever try.

But if you want to change your culture, you want to be pushed by being around smarter or stronger people, want to wake up in the morning trying to figure out how you are going to impress someone, want to engage in tete a tete conversations that are built on respect and not the need to win… then hire the girl who is way smarter than you, a better leader then you, a more organized coder then you might ever be.

And learn, learn all that they are and do, because in the end it will not always make you better, but your team and organization that much better then you could have ever done with a bunch of people looking up to you going – “What now?”.

Don’t Hire a Coder, Hire a Leader

In this case, I need a coder, I need someone to assist on projects and products, I need someone to make a dent in the workload on our plates.

That is today.

Tomorrow, I will need a leader, someone to groom future team members and continue their growth by guiding, coaching and mentoring them.  I’ll need someone that does more then provide great bug regression counts but someone who can review others work and make them not feel like a loser but that they are on the right path.  I’ll need someone that can say no to unyielding demand and stand up for their team.  I’ll need someone who can coordinate a tiger team-esque style effort to make something happen when the chips are down and keep the team driving towards their goal.  I’ll need someone who knows when it is better to get out and push rather than stay in and steer.

In short, I’ll need a leader.

So although you might be the best guru in the language of the moment that might help me today, I’m not going to hire you.  I’m going to hire the guy (or the girl) that could be the future leader that I need tomorrow.

Keeping Up-to-Date

Near the end of every interview I always ask this question, there is some sort of a preamble to it…

“We work in a changing industry…”

“There are so many new technologies…”

How do you do it?  How do you stay current and relevant?

Many think it is a trick question, i.e., I am waiting for you to say one specific blog and then I will go “aha Hire them!” – not the case.  There is no one magazine, one blog or book that is going to make you stand out from the rest of the crowd.  Conversely, I have had people tally off the Top 10 blogs du jour in the hope that it will make me go – “well if they are reading all of those, they must be on top of everything, there is nowhere else to go.”

Both are incorrect.

No, the question is a way for me to figure out what shapes your views and opinions.  Many times, if it is a blog or book I have not heard, I will go look it up and take a quick gander of it.  Perhaps I’ll add it to my own reading list or perhaps not, but me aside – it gives me insight into who you are and what you are and where you are trying to go.

I love when the answer to this question is not technology focussed and instead is about someone learning to build and create something outside of code and listening to their reasons for wanting to do this.  Sometimes there are parallels, other times it is an escape from what they are currently doing so they can focus their attention elsewhere.

In both cases they are pushing themselves into something new and continually learning.  With any profession in today’s age, continual learning is key to your own future success, if you aren’t learning something new, then you’re stagnating and on your way to becoming a relic.  And this leads us to the worst possible answer which is for you to say “nothing” because it sends the message (albeit completely unintentionally from your side) that you are “too good” to learn anything new and you are an expert OR that you are too lazy to learn anything new.

Both are bad reads and if I have to choose between the person who reads a number of blogs on a weekly basis, maybe writes their own, subscribes to Beta updates, goes out and tries new concepts that are not a part of his daily work routine this shows the willingness to consistently poke holes in the status quo.

It’s not a tough choice who I’d hire.