T-SQL Tuesday #54 – Interviewing

T-SQL Tuesday

T-SQL Tuesday

It’s T-SQL Tuesday again and this month our host is Boris Hristov (b/t). He has asked us to discuss Interviewing.

Interviewing is a great topic for me as I’ve just participated in a few, one of which has landed me a new permanent position which I am quite excited about.   While I’m not going to talk about the one that landed me the job, I do want to talk about two topics: the recruiter that got me into my current position and one of the positions that I did not accept.

The Good

Normally I don’t entertain random recruiters who call me out of the blue.  If you can’t pitch me the basic job description, salary range and location over email, I assume your process is likely too complicated to entertain.  This filter has kept me sane over the last few years as I have navigated through the job market.  One bright April morning last year I was in a hotel room in Nashville about to head to a client’s site when I received a call from the consulting company whom currently employs me.   I had a few minutes to kill so why not entertain this recruiter.  Oddly enough, this guy listened more than he talked, and actually listened to my hesitation about the job he was pitching.  My resume indicated I was looking for SQL Development or Dev Management positions, both of which were well within my wheel house.  This guy was pushing a DBA position at a Fortune 1000 finance company, no way am I the right guy.

As he listened to my hesitations in our conversation,  he probed and poked and got a few answers out of me.  He led me down the road, using my description of my experience so that I came to the conclusion that I did have enough experience to take a run at the interview process, and I’m glad I did.  While I did stumble a time or two during the interview, I was ultimately offered a chance to join an amazing team of SQL professionals, some of which I consider friends in my SQL Family.  I put my self out there with the little knowledge I had of the DBA world and I got it.

While most recruiters are new college grads simply using the search function on Dice.com to find a resume that somewhat matches, my recruiter read between the lines of my resume and heard the words from our discussion and got me into a great position.  He saw my potential to do the job, and to land him a big commission, and nudged me towards it.  In this case, not all recruiters are evil, money grubbing parasites.  In this case, mine was simply not evil, all else applies.

The Bad

As my current position is a 1 year contract position, my time here is wrapping up quickly.  With that in mind, I recently started to investigate the current job market by sharing my resume with a few trusted recruiters, as well as placing the resume on Dice.com.  I received an email through Dice from the Director of IT of a small development shop.  He was interested in my diverse background of development and data and thought I could be a fit for their PHP team.  Being that I really like the SQL community, I would prefer to stay with some type of SQL based job, I threw out a large number for salary requirement, he was unphased.  At this point, I am intrigued as this could be interesting.

I was told the interview process would be a simple step 1, 2 and decision, very straight forward.  Step 1, was talking to a Senior Developer on the phone.  We did a screen share where I was to debug some PHP code, and then he sent me home with three small weekend projects to test more advanced concepts.  After a few hours of coding on the weekend, I sent back the projects which were accepted as satisfactory, and thus we moved along to step 2.  Step 2 was talking to their Software Architect, who was an external consultant.  I was asked to talk with him to see if my knowledge and experience was up to par with their expectations. At the end of our conversation I expected us to be done with a follow-up offer or rejection.  I was informed I was expected to do some type of online coding exercise with the Architect Consultant now.   Had I not done this already with the Senior Developer?  Do they not talk internally?  Did he not review the sample projects I spent a few hours completing?

After sitting on the coding interview invite for a few days, the Director of IT reached out via email and finally phoned to inquire why I had not moved forward as of yet as they were very interested in me for the position.  I indicated to him that I had hesitations about the company, as the basic interview process was redundant and beyond the scope of what we had originally agreed upon.   I was told that the Architect Consultant has more sway over the hiring process than he does, even though it is he is the Director of the department.   With reservations, I talked to the architect who administered very basic PHP coding skills test.  This second test was easier than any of the ones I had already done with the first developer.

The Lesson

From this I have learned:

  • Take a chance, you might just be surprised at the outcome.
  • If you have hesitations about a position, validate as much as you can, but ultimately trust your instincts.  With the lack of personality fit and the hard pill of my asking salary, the PHP company decided not to make an offer, which made my decision to accept an offer from my new company that much easier.