Where Software Talent is Number One

An interview is a blind date. Don’t screw it up.

At left is Core Search Group’s recommended interview attire.

Over 11 years of watching interviews go on patterns begin to emerge. Here is what we have learned. An interview is not an interview. It’s a blind date. If more people knew how to get through a blind date I would be fabulously wealthy and you’d have to figure all this out on your own.

Have you ever had a friend try to hook you up with a potential significant other? It can be really embarrassing for everyone involved. As third party recruiters we try our best to judge not just the technical match of the candidate and company, but also how the personalities will mesh. Sometimes we get it wrong. In one recent instance we had a management candidate tell the developers how she would “manipulate” them into getting the work done. Surpise, they didn’t like that idea. She didn’t get hired. Sometimes we get it right. Among other fascinating interviews I have witnessed we had one guy show up for the interview in a giant squid costume. He got the job-programming for one of the top financial companies in NYC. It was the right audience. Since our recruiter knew the audience he knew they would react well. On a blind date you chat with someone for a few minutes and mutually decide, yes or no, “I think I might be able to spend a lot of time with this person without barfing.” On an interview you’re deciding, “I can deal with the cubes and fluorescent lighting and total lack of source control if I can work with these people.” So the key is not to act like a gold-chain wearing goon or a prima donna or any of the other limitless types of pains in the ass people can be. Go in with the idea that you’re a consultant there to figure out how you can help them succeed. Go on a blind date with the idea that you want to learn about the person you’re meeting, not prattle on about how freaking cool you are.

The best blind dates are set up by someone who knows you really well and cares for you. So consider that individual before you accept. They may know your history and how you seem to prefer freakishly intelligent and productive people. Or they may have a friend whose life is a shambles who they are hoping you can lift up from the pit of despair and anguish. Which date do you want to go on?

Many candidates we talk to have little idea how to qualify recruiters. They let any tool with a monster account and some blind ambition fling their resume haphazardly at a company and cross their fingers. This leads to some brilliant flameouts. If we had a nickel for every sob story we’ve heard we wouldn’t be asking you for your resume.

Here’s CSG’s simple checklist to qualifying recruiters:

1. How long have they worked with the company they want to send you in to? How many people have they placed there? If the answer is “Ummmm…” let them waste some other sucker’s time.
2. What are they going to do to HELP you get the job? Do they know more about the group and the requirements than is on the woefully vague “job description” they got from HR?
3. Have they met the people you’ll be interviewing with? Can they tell you why they think you’ll mesh with these people?

Don’t go on blind dates set up by people you don’t know. Don’t go on interviews unless the recruiter can convince you it is an excellent investment of your time. Don’t forget to wear clean underwear when you leave the house.

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