Interview this!

By John Kador, InfoWorld |  Career

Most humans are tempted to lie when they make a mistake or are accused of doing so,
hiring managers say. The question is worded carefully so attentive listeners can
address the issue of temptation. Recruiters look for a candidate who admits being
tempted but states a commitment to the truth. Candidates who protest that they never
lie are probably insincere and didn't listen to the question.


InfoWorld: Tell me about a recent experience in which you brought together a team
to interpret functional specifications and translated that into a sound technical
project.

Ideal response: "The first thing we did was convene a meeting of the development
team to make sure we understood the user's business requirements. We wanted to make
sure everyone saw the application in the context of the business, so that once we
started working on the individual modules everyone understood how it all fit
together."

Inferior response: "I inspected the functional specifications and made the changes
that were necessary."

Managers hiring for teams want candidates that use "we" and "us" instead of "me"
and "I." If candidates do not emphasize collaboration in the interview, hiring managers
question whether they can lead a team.


InfoWorld: Here's a blank sheet of paper. If you had no constraints, how would you
reinvent our business from an IT perspective?

Ideal response: "From what I can tell about your business requirements, a major
challenge is integration of your Web-based front-end customer service applications with
your back-end legacy systems and databases [or other specifics]. So if I had no
constraints, I would start by ... ."

Inferior response: "What's hot right now is Linux-based applets enabling object-
oriented databases leveraging XML applets ... ."

Hiring managers want answers that show the candidate understands that business
drives IT.


InfoWorld: Describe an important technical project, the participants, your role,
and the outcome.

Hiring managers did not recite a single, specific ideal response. Rather they use
this question to probe the applicant's ability to spot problems, work with people,
manage his or her ego, use resources, be creative, plan, organize, and recruit support.
An effective response suggests a high level of enthusiasm.

Any answer focusing on something petty or the "solution" shows a lack of long-term
vision, hiring managers say.

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