#TSQL2sday: Interviewing Patterns

T-SQL Tuesday LogoThis T-SQL Tuesday is hosted by Kendra Little.

I’ve been told interviewing is an art. Perhaps it is. I view it more as an information exchange. The organization you’re interviewing with is trying to obtain information on you. You should be trying to obtain information on the organization. The interview provides an opportunity to get that information first hand for both parties and from both parties. When it comes to interviewing, I only have two main suggestions.

Be Honest, to a Point

You want to be honest about your experience, your expectations, and your personality. The first two are self-explanatory. With respect to personality, let me give an example. If you do better working in a cave with little interruption, then you should make sure that’s known. The work environment at that organization may not be conducive to you if they believe in an open office work space. There you’ll be less productive, more miserable, and wondering why you took the job. If you’re trying to get a job, any job, it’s understandable if this isn’t a priority. But that’s part of your personality, too. What can you compromise on? What can you accept?

Where you need to hold your words is when it’s obvious that the interviewers are trying to use your knowledge to solve a problem they’re having. I’ve had several friends go to an interview, be given a “hypothetical situation” that clearly wasn’t hypothetical, give out the solution freely, and then not get the job. Actually, in each case the job was pulled shortly thereafter. In reality, the interviews were nothing more than attempts to get free consulting. Don’t fall for this trick.

Ask Your Own Questions

Always remember that an interview is supposed to go both ways. It’s not just to determine if the organization is interested in your services. The interview also exists to help you determine if you want to work in the organization on that team in that particular role. Therefore, make sure you ask questions like:

  • What’s the work environment like, with specifics like traffic, meetings, and work space?
  • What are the specific duties of the team?
  • What will your duties be?
  • What’s the management structure and how does it impact your team and your role?
  • What technologies will you be working with?
  • What is the corporate and team culture like?

The last one is a big one. I had a friend who ended up working in an environment where everything was kept extremely quiet. Almost all conversations were handled by instant messenger. Some folks thrive with this kind of work culture. Others wither up and feel trapped and isolated. You’ll want to know what culture is before you take the job.

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jeff Mlakar
    Aug 08, 2017 @ 11:44:02

    What’s up with the free consulting thing? I’ve had that happen to me and see it posted several times already! I didn’t realize it was that common.


  2. Kendra Little
    Aug 08, 2017 @ 14:10:20

    You are so right about exchanging information only up to a point. There are also times where candidates will be asked to talk about their experiences doing certain tasks, and giving out too much specific information about their current or past employers can raise concerns about confidentiality and privacy — setting limits on the conversation as a candidate is very valid, and doing in in the right way can help you in the interview! So it’s a great thing to remember, and it’s a shame that some interviews are just scams.


  3. Trackback: Interviewing Patterns & Anti-Patterns: Advice from the SQL Server Community - by Kendra Little

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