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Job Interviews, The Experience Part

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I just saw a short interview with Elon Musk, the famous innovative entrepreneur, founder of PayPal, Tesla and SpaceX. What was interesting in what he said was his approach on verifying job applicants experience during the interviews. Musk basically said he wants to check if the candidate actually solved the problem mentioned in his resume or rather stood somewhere close when the problem was solved. He uses sort of onion approach to figure this out, checks person knowledge from the surface on the issue, through number of layers all the way to the solid core. By how much the person understands research and solving process he judges if the applicant actually solved the problem himself or just wearing some other worker ID badges.

After over 20 years spent in computer technology field I also have something to share about the job interviewing process. According to HR I have interviewed over 400 individuals, not like my department is revolving doors or anything. It’s just other department managers tend to invite me since I always try to prepare myself best I can for each candidate.

What has been fairly common for past 4-6 years is that resumes are beefed up by 20-80%. Another trend that is fortunately getting weak from my point of view is certificate test passing without understanding the area of expertise.

Job recruiters who run the market these days desperately want their candidates to be interviewed for a position. This is a normal behavior as they live off of commission charged for a hired employee. However when this ends up in stuffing resumes to the point of absurd things start to change. Sometimes this could be caught in a phone screening but sometimes the candidate is prepared by the recruiter; moreover some recruiters ask what were the questions during the screen so could pass it to another candidate. This way complete misfits come to the in person interview which often turn into a grotesque.

My background is software development so when it comes to interview let’s say a person for Windows server systems engineering I need to research for a proper set of question in the internet. This usually works surprisingly well, for example a candidate has passed Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer set of 5-7 detailed tests and claims he has been managing for 5 years but then can’t enumerate 5 command line tools for troubleshooting windows server environment.

On the other hand some candidates with balloon resumes managed to impress us, get the position and performed well during employment. How did they do that? Well some openly admit that recruiters made them put stuff in the resume that is not relevant to their experience. Some show a great passion to a field not necessarily close the field we’re looking for but with mature enthusiasm we found them useful which is very close what Musk actually said.

Author is a founder of the online ID badge maker, a complete online identification solution for small and medium size companies.

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