I recently went to a forum hosted by Women In Technology where they invited a large group of young women, some in high school up to some in their first internship out of college, who were there to meet one-on-one with tech professionals to ask questions and interact with some of the industry’s best (not self-promoting; there were many fine, far-more-seasoned-engineers at this event). Think speed-dating but for gathering knowledge, which I’ve dubbed: Women In Tech Speed-Mentoring.
I, of course, promoted data; I promoted the hell out of data!
The event itself was unfortunately quite short, for the mentees anyway, for which we all only spoke one-on-one with three aspiring tech geeks (plus a few chats while waiting in the pizza line). Some were declared computer science majors while others were still unsure of a direction to go in this broad world of tech. I, of course, promoted data; I promoted the hell out of data! However, in doing so, I was taken back by a couple things and pleasantly surprised at others — all of which gave me a chance to really connect with them, I hope. These surprises made me want to write this post…
Look for something ridiculous? Not that long ago I used to think that the best interview questions were one where the candidate could answer the question in many different but accurate ways, rather than just one perfect way. Which, at the time, would have weeded out many incompetent colleagues, consultants, and managers. It seemed fool-proof!
Fast forward to today, after much more experienced in interviewing and matured in my expectations of nervous people. These people are just people – they just mostly suck. Like, foundationally terrible candidates, four out of every five. The cure is that while they may not perform like you expect, they may show other signs – much like how I thought the ability to Open Notepad was a single testament to skill – there is one great trait to look for: Passionate Interest! No matter the questions you ask a candidate if they get excited, geeky, inspired, passionate about the answer, then you’ve got something special.
My argument here is that one who would answer the questions the way you’d ideally-expect versus someone who may underperform, yet still be a contender, will still be equally expressive in a positively geeky way. While the true underperformers will break down in many obvious ways, the common denominator between them will undoubtedly be their disdain for coming to a solution; An eagerness to say something, rather than feeling something. These are the simple clues to look for. Look for something ridiculous and genuine. These are the people who will be there to bounce ridiculous ideas off of and fuel the team.
Nobody wants to work on a team where people only share details when you ask for them. I want to work on teams where people share information because they think it will be helpful even though you didn’t ask for it.
This blog will be my virtual valet of knowledge that oozes out from time to time. I wanted a place that I could share my thoughts as my career advances and confidently build a platform to represent who I am, what I do and my thoughts on the subject of data & analytics.
Throughout my storied career in IT, I’ve made lots of mistakes. It’s those mistakes that have made me the arrogant jackass subject matter expert I am today. Working with seasoned rock stars, high-priced consultants, and everyone in between (You see what I did there?). So, it’s not a problem that you’re doing it wrong; the problem is that hopefully, I’m not.
The posts you’ll read on this site will be about all the dialogue that comes from us trying our best, failing early, and failing often.
Hope you enjoy it. Now, it’s time to fill this mug with some content!