TSQL Tuesday #93: Interviewing Patterns & Anti-Patterns

This month’s T-SQL Tuesday is being hosted by Kendra Little (t | b). T-SQL Tuesday (#TSQL2SDAY) is a blog party founded by Adam Machanic (t | b). Each month a member of the community hosts the party and selects the topic for us to write about.  

This month’s topic: Interviewing Patterns and Anti-Patterns

What advice do you have for people preparing for or going through an interview?  Feel free to be creative on this topic. Take whichever approach you like best:

  • You may focus on patterns to follow for success
  • You may list anti-patterns, too: things that might seem like a good idea, but are a recipe for disaster
  • You can write about your own highs and lows as a candidate or as an interviewer

 

The News

It was a really crazy time in my life.  It was the middle of the recession and all of a sudden I was notified that my job of over 15 years was being eliminated and I would be unemployed in five weeks.  WHAT?  The next day I went out and bought a couple of ‘interview outfits.”  Being in IT, I did not have a lot of clothes to wear to interviews.  Over that five week period I had many, many interviews and the questions asked by each interviewer were very similar.  As I went from interview to interview, I picked up on body language and was able to re-use my responses or modify them based on previous feedback.  I was getting good at the interview process.  Maybe a little too good.

After all of the interviews, I had narrowed down my interest to three companies and each one provided a very different experience.

The Contractor

The position at Company A was my top pick.  I loved the company, the environment, they had relatively new hardware and software, and the people who I interviewed with seemed forward thinking.  We spent over an hour talking about their project and goals. I felt comfortable with the team and felt like I could walk in and easily fit into the team.

The only drawback to this position was that it was a 3 month contract job.  If I was used to contract work or this was my only offer, that would have been great.  However, I don’t think I am made for short term contract jobs.  It felt like I would have to start looking for another job in about a month.  I was tired and did not want to go through that process again.  I often wonder what would have happened if I took this position.  Would it have turned into a full time position with the company or would I have been out looking for a job again in 6 weeks.

Too Many Interviews

Going to work for Company B intrigued me because of one of their benefits…I would spend two weeks out of each month in Denver and two weeks out of each month in Dallas.  While spending two weeks out of the month in Dallas is not considered a benefit for most people, I used to live in Dallas and I still have a lot of very good friends there.  Awesome.  This company is going to pay for me to go see my friends! 

But as we went through the interview process, I started getting tired of Company B. The first interview was with a recruiter.  The second interview was with the person who would be my supervisor.  The third interview was with the person who would be my task supervisor.  The fourth interview was with the person who would be my supervisor (again) and someone from HR.  The fifth interview never happened.  They requested a fifth interview with my supervisor (again), another IT employee, and two members of senior management.  While the job was a good fit and I would probably have a gazillion frequent flyer miles by now, I decided I did not want to work for a company that needs at least five interviews to hire a SQL DBA.  

The 15 Minute Interview

A week before my final day at my old job, there was a company lunch for a group of us who were leaving.  I had an interview scheduled from 11:00am-11:30am with Company C and the lunch was going to be back at the office across town at noon.  It was a tight schedule but I could make it.  I got to the interview at 10:55am and had a seat.  They were still interviewing someone else.  11:05…11:10…11:15…11:20…I was finally called into the interview.  I was on edge and asked if we could reschedule as I had another appointment at noon.  This was the last day for interviews and they assured me we could get through the interview and I could make my appointment at 12:00pm.  OK, let’s do this.

It was a group interview and they were organized.  They had a list of questions that they asked each candidate then rated everyone’s response on an equal scale.  I liked that process.  They started going around the table asking questions.  At one point we had a long discussion and I started getting nervous about the time.  Someone asked “who has the next question” and I answered for them.  By then I was on the front of my chair answering questions at a very rapid pace.  This was my fifth interview of the week and I felt like I had answered all of these questions several times already which gave me a lot of confidence.

The person to my right had the last question, which is the typical last questions for many job interviews.  She asked me “Why should we hire you?”  I was in a weird space and feeling super confident and out of my mouth came the response “Because I am fun and lovable.”  Awkward silence.  The minute I said it, I knew I needed to say something else so I went into the ‘I am hard working and pay attention to detail‘ spiel.

We ended the interview at 11:40am, just 15 minutes after we started the interview.  I thanked them for the interview, ran out of there, sped back to the office, changed out of my interview outfit and back into my jeans and t-shirt, and made the going away lunch at noon.  I have never had such a short interview and I never thought I would make it to lunch on time.  The interview was a success and lunch was delicious.

Take-Aways

I went through so many  interviews and so many different types of interviews (phone, one on one, group) during that time.  But no matter the type of interview, the information covered was very similar across all companies.  If you know your stuff, interviews are not that hard.  What I got out of the process was self confidence.  During my time with my old company, I had progressed in my career, but I had not had to sell myself in an interview format in a long time.  Going through the process made me realize how I had grown throughout my career.  It also helped me set a more focused path for my career.

 

 

 

 

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