Friday, September 21, 2007

Interviewing the Interviewer Part 3 : What is the typical experience of a new hire?

What is the typical experience of a new hire? This will give you an idea of the first few months of work will be like. There are some jobs that just dump you at a desk and hand you a stack of papers to read. Is this the new hire experience you are looking for? Although this question is definitely doesn't yield a make or break answer, it is something good to know. I personally prefer a company that will invest time on proper training. Most people do not work well with a stack of documents for training. What would be great is being able to sit with a co-worker, get a feel for the work there and begin working. My friend at Google said he was checking in code on the first day he started. It seems that their new hire process is very streamline. The last thing I want to do in my first week or two is configuring my system, training and taking care of a bunch of overheard before I start coding. Again, this isn't the most important question to ask an employer, but I think it is an intelligent one which will open up more conversation about the company.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Interviewing the Interviewer Part 2: Why Are You Hiring?

Why are you hiring? Every person interviewing inevitably scripts an answer to the age old "Why are looking for a new job" question. "Oh well, I've been at my current job for a few years. I've been able to be involved in many parts of the program. Through it all, I've gained a lot of technical knowledge and experience. The program is closing down soon and I thought it was the perfect time to find the next challenge." You go into your script and give that perfect answer you've crafted. Interviews put you into this mindset where we know where our position is. We need to impress them so that they hire us. This is perfectly fine because some of us really need a new job, but it shouldn't just stop there. They ask us "Why are looking for a new job", but at the same time we should ask "Why are you looking to hire people?" Why not ask the question back? Find out why the company is picking up new people. Is business booming? Are there new projects and growth at this company? If this is the case, then working there might really work out. I've found that some companies are facing great attrition rates. People are moving from job to job leaving big vacancies in companies. If this is the case, then there should be some consideration in exploring the opportunity there. Why would all of these people be leaving? Before someone accepts a job, it would be great to find out exactly why the company is hiring.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Interviewing the Interviewer Part 1: Work Environment

What is the work environment like? This is a pretty important factor to me. A great work environment and culture are factors that I put really high. Probably the single most important factor is the people. How are the people at this place you interviewed at? Is there a good range of age groups, or is it just all young people or all old people? Depending on your age and stage in career, the work demographic can enhance the work experience and even your career. From my perspective, I prefer young people who I can get along with, talk to, but older people who can mentor me. If a company does not have the right people who can suit your needs, it might not work out for either party. I once had an interview in which I explained that I was looking to take the lead at work, but at the same time find a mentor in the company too. Unfortunately the company was looking solely for an experienced person who could lead and wasn't looking for mentorship. This cost me a potential job, but at the end of the day, it didn't really fit what I was looking for. The work environment is not only made up of people, but also even the physical environment. This can also be a minor factor for a potential employee. If you are stuck in a cubicle, does this matter? It might be something to consider. All in all, the work environment is very important. Salary, job description are very important, but coming into a nice job in a bad work environment can tarnish the experience.