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djh101010's Journal: Interviews + unqualified applicants = AAAAAAAARGH!!!! 1

Journal by djh101010
OK so we're trying to staff up. This is good. Looking for strong Unix guys with a very well defined job description handed out to headhunters. The market is apparently tight. That, is _not_ good, at least from our perspective. Yesterday, I lost an hour or so of my life that I'll never get back. Let's see.

Guy number 1: technical phone screen. Can't hear him, static on the line throughout. Threw a pretty medium question at him to see how he responds; I don't care _what_ the answer is as long as it's appropriate, but show me how you think, y'know? Well...inappropriate answer. Didn't hear? Didn't understand? Don't know? Hard to say. Probe deeper. Back off to basic question. Another inappropriate answer, eerily similar to the first. The 3 of us in the room, on phone with interviewee, exchange the "wait, what?" look. As time marched on, it got actually painful.

Guy number 2: in person interview for "fit" rather than "techie", he passed the tech screen with one of our gurus. Scheduled time comes, and goes. No guy #2. Recheck calendar and manager, yes, time is right and has passed. OK, working, let me know if Guy shows up. Nearly an hour late, Guy does. No phone call, no apology, just nearly an hour late. Dressed...interestingly. This for an IT position at a company you've heard of, known for being somewhat conservative. Manager asked if Guy had his phone number, Guy had come without it or a map to find the (yes, on google and mapquest maps) location. Sigh. Into the Room Of Torment (for us, lately).

"Tell me about an interesting problem you've had recently and how you solved it." Come on, this is THE classic interview question. Give me a war story, embellish, hell, make shit up completely, I don't _care_, I want to hear how you think, how you fix stuff. War stories. Engage me. Make me want to know more. "Well, I found a shell script once where the #! at the start pointed to the wrong path." Share the "Wait, what?" look with the manager. Try again with something else. Lather, rinse, repeat. (sigh).

Friday we try again with two more guys. My hopes are high, they always are. I guess my point here, is why do headhunters send us people who don't have the skills we state we need, and more to the point, why would someone read a job req they're clearly unqualified for, and then go to the interview anyway? Alternately, from the other side of the table, any hints for me? I don't pretend to be a master interviewer (on either side of the table); I certainly don't want to pass over someone that's really worth digging into further, but any thoughts on better ways to find out what these guys are thinking? We're trying to balance an intense staffing shortage (growth-induced) with the whole "but don't settle for good-enough" thing. Our team is top-notch, works great together, not one stinker on it, and it benefits us all to keep it that way. Any thoughts? Are we doing something wrong, or is interviewing always like this?
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Interviews + unqualified applicants = AAAAAAAARGH!!!!

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  • What you're seeing is maybe a little on the bad side of normal, but not by much. Any high-demand or low-supply job type is going to see that. A couple of jobs ago, the guy who owned the company negotiated hard with recruiters over their fees. The result was that we got the toughest candidates to place. A very high percentage of non-native English speakers. That year of Chinese that I took in college really proved useful. :-)

The key elements in human thinking are not numbers but labels of fuzzy sets. -- L. Zadeh

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