Three Ways to Answer “Tell Me Something No One Knows About You”

Hiring managers who haven’t read Hiring Geeks That Fit are now asking another irrelevant question: Tell me something no one else knows about you. Now, in case you aren’t sure, this is an irrelevant question. It doesn’t directly help an interviewer learn how the candidate can perform the work or fit with the team. It doesn’t help the candidate learn about the job. That means it’s irrelevant. However, if you are looking for a job, you can use this question. I would focus the question back at the work. Here are some ways to answer this question: Tell a personal story about how you exhibited problem-solving or fit with a team. Something that you know or suspect the interviewer is looking for. If this is a first question, ask the interviewer, “What does success look like for this job? I can tell you how I did something like that in the past.” If you do have that experience on your resume, point to it. Think back to the value you bring to an organization. Now, think of a personal story that shows one or more of those values. Answer this question with a story. Your interviewer is looking for something personal. If you’re not sure how to answer or define your value, look at Manage Your Job Search. I have a number of examples of how to answer irrelevant...

Managing Expectations Between Two Internal Candidates

You have an open position. You have two internal candidates. You’re going to hire one of them. (See Two Candidates, One Position.) Now you have a problem. You have one person who will not be happy. This often occurs when you have two candidates for technical leadership or management positions. You might have a political problem. You certainly have a challenge. How can you “save” both people? This is a management and expectation problem. You need to clarify to yourself first, why you want to hire one person over the other. Once you understand your thinking, you can set expectations with both candidates. Here are some scenarios: One candidate is ready for the new position. That candidate has demonstrated that he or she can already do the work required. The other candidate is not quite ready. In this case, you owe the not-quite-ready candidate coaching, if the candidate wants it. You also owe the candidate specific examples of what he or she can do to be ready the next time. Neither candidate is quite ready, but you think one candidate has more potential. In this case, you might need to change the job description. You will have to coach the candidate you hire. You will have to manage expectations with the other candidate and offer coaching. Neither candidate is good enough for the role. You will expand the search outside the organization. In this case, both candidates need feedback and coaching. Note that in all cases, you can reset expectations and “save” the other candidate with feedback and coaching. That’s just the first step. You can fix these problems if...

Series on Hiring Technical People

Have you seen Nick Korbel’s series about hiring techies? See On Hiring Techies. There are several posts: Evaluate Potential, Not Accomplishments. He’s talking about evaluating qualities, preferences, and non-technical skills. Coding Challenge: A pre-interview audition. The cool thing is that they then discuss the audition in the interview. The Team Interview. I dislike panel interviews. It sounds as if Nick has some positive experience with it. I prefer one-on-one interviews with an interview matrix to organize the interviewing. One thing I do like is that Nick says the entire team must agree with the hire. (Yes—Fist pump!) Hire For Cultural Fit. Nick says, “I can teach someone a new technology. I cannot teach someone how to fit into our culture.” Believe it. If you want to see some of my posts, check out: Skills for 2013: It’s Not About Tools or Technology Three Tips to Streamline Your Interviews and Auditions, Part 4. Also, check out my audition tag. Assign Roles for Group/Panel Interviews and Plan for an Interview with an Interview Matrix My own cultural fit posts: Series on Cultural Fit Posted How to Hire for Cultural Fit Without Becoming Insular or Mediocre Hiring for Cultural Fit: It’s Time to Add Women, pt 1  You can always get your own copy of Hiring Geeks That Fit. It explains everything all in one...

Hire for Cultural Fit: It’s Time to Add Women, Pt 1

In the blogosphere and in the press, there is an increasing notice about the lack of women in technical fields and management positions. Here is some data: Why women leave tech: what the research says by Sue Gardner. Read Visualizing Silicon Valley’s Lack of Diversity. Notice that tech is overwhelmingly white and male. It does not reflect the society in which we live. It doesn’t have to be this way. Our field got this way because we let our unconscious prejudices decide for us. Did you see this? In Hiring Geeks That Fit, I talk about how you learn about your prejudices and how you account for them. We know that diverse teams create better products. We know—and if you have been on a multi-gender, multi-cultural team, people-with-diverse-backgrounds you have this experience—creating products is more fun, faster, and easier. Why? Because you don’t get into group-think. You have more opportunities for ideas. You have people who, while they fit the corporate culture enough, have diverse experience creating products. You discover and create your way to a better outcome. Can you get a great product with—excuse me—all white males under the age of 30? Of course. Can you get it with a diverse team of all kinds of people of all ages? Yes. In my experience, it’s faster and easier. What can you do, if you want to keep or build the great culture you already have? You are sure you can’t find any women? First, don’t be so sure. You might want to watch How Etsy Increased Diversity in Its Engineering Department: An Interview with Marc Hedlund. It’s a...

An Agile Approach From Job Offer to Start to Success

If you’re a hiring manager, you might think that once you’ve made the offer you’re home free. Not quite. Maybe you think that once your new hire starts, you’re home free. Nope. You don’t get to see the results of your new hire until your new hire is integrated into the day-to-day work of the team. How long does that take? “It depends.” I know, I hate it when I have to give an answer like that. Just as much as when you hear an answer like that. The problem is that when you integrate a new person into your team, everyone’s productivity goes down. Ouch. This graphic explains what happens. Your team is running to keep up at the beginning of the hiring. That’s why you have to hire someone. They take time to interview. By the time the new hire starts, they are ragged. Now, everyone takes time to answer questions and explain how the products work and what’s going on with this project with the new hire. Oh, boy. That’s why the answer above is “It depends.” If no one spends time with the new hire, the new person takes foreverrrr to learn how to do anything. That’s why it takes 6-9 months. Everyone else is running to keep up with all their work. It’s understandable, but it’s difficult for everyone. Contrast that curve when you use a buddy system. I can’t guarantee that you’ll have new hires at two or three months who will be as effective as the people who have been there for years. I only know what my experience has been. I’ve...