How many hours in the day?
In my current role, at least the one that pays the most money at present, I have teams of people who work hard to deliver code that is used to help other people do their jobs with greater ease, the last role was similar except that time we delivered code to educate children, slightly more rewarding emotionally but still the same type of gig and the one before had the same theme and the one before that. So basically I get to design, manage and get shit built. It’s fun. It’s not my dream but it’s not a bad way to make money. Don’t worry I’m also working on the dream but I still need to get a couple of people over the line to believe the vision of that dream to part with some cash to pay for it all and some other people to quit their jobs and come help me make it a reality, it’s coming….
Anyway part of the job that I never really like is the whole recruitment process. The picking the right person to get to join the team. Normally I use score cards, create a list of the skills we require, put a value against each skill and then start looking at CV’s and work down the list one by one scoring the candidates against the card. It’s a fair enough process when you are dealing with a high volume of CV’s. Then comes the short list and then the ones who you call to see if they want to come for an interview. Then the dance begins, you sell them the role and company and they sell themselves.
If I am the person being interviewed I tend not to struggle too much. I’ve normally got all the credentials and can rise to any challenge if it’s thrown at me and lets face it, I’m not exactly shy but when I’m the one doing the interviewing I sometimes struggle, I struggle if the person we’ve brought in turns out to be about as exciting as a grey brick. I, like most people, need to be able to form a bond with people that I work with or it’s just not going to work out in the long term because what we do sometimes involves really long days and sometimes nights to get something completed and delivered.
This is the part you don’t sell, you don’t go “Sure only last week we found a bug so big we had go through the entire code base from scratch line by line and we were here all weekend strung out on caffeine that left us with itchy eyes and fractured homes” but you know and they know this happens so we don’t talk about it. We talk about the fluffy side of things and we talk about some of the challenges. We talk about stuff that sounds like it is all achievable and then we talk about them. What they like, what they don’t like and over maybe one, two or three interviews we decide if this person is someone that will fit in and we can stand looking at for the next year of so.
So how do you get to this stage, from looking at a person on paper, to meeting them in person, to selling yourself, selling them the role and they in turn selling themselves back. It’s a dance, a waltz per say. One thing is for sure, if you want someone to dance you don’t walk up to them and say “Hey there, it seems you like us and we like you, so would you like to dance and describe yourself in 3 words?”. That was one of the questions that some Management Guru, and by Guru I mean idiot, came up with at some point somewhere in the corporate evolution and then interviewers all over the planet seemed to latch on to it and drop it, like a bomb, into the conversation at some point.
How do you describe yourself in three words?
If I am ever asked this question by a potential employer I politely ask them for a bit more of a definition, like three words to describe myself as a father, a husband, a brother, a son, a program manager, a project manager, a CEO, a COO, a CTO, a team member, a people manager, what particular facet of my life would you like me to summarise in three words that will help you work out if I’m fit do do job that you are unfit to interview me for? I’ll then shorten the rest of the interview and leave. I will never ever ask it and I will never ever work for a company that thinks this is a valid question.
There are 24 hours in a day, I’m on call for 24 of them as a parent, as are all parents including my own, 8 hours are spent in the office, 2 of which are generally spent keeping stuff up to date so that someone somewhere might look at something if the wheels fall off whatever it is I’m delivering purely so that if we have to get into a blame storming session there is an audit trail, I spend about 2 hours a day in meetings, 2 hours working with my team, two hours planning and an hour drinking coffee and eating etc, I spend on average about 5 hours sleeping, maybe 6 if the bunnies that are my children are at one with the Sandman and I spend 2 hours commuting and then about 2 hours working on my own personal business and sometimes an hour with my guitar or an hour watching tv or cleaning the house and everyday of late I spend an hour in the Gym. So there you go out of the 24 hours in the day I’m busy for 52 or more of them.
How would I describe myself in three words, the same as the rest of us, “Busy, Busy, Busy”.