28 August 2012

Questioning Interviews

One of my favorite parts about working for the county newspaper in college was getting to interview many different kinds of people. Whether it was making a rural borough council member sweat with rapid-fire questions about millage rates, or profiling an Iraq War vet documenting his experiences, each interview spawned more stories than from the interviewee alone.

So it is with job interviews: I've come to value interviewers who step out of the "where do you see yourself in five years" line of questioning. The better candidate also needs to offer more than just generic questions. For me, it helps to think like a journalist. What questions would help draw out a good story?

Of course, we can't have all good interviewers and interviewees, but that's why these comics from The Oatmeal exist. They're old posts, but classic. My favorite bad interviewee is the mute, only because I like nachos.
What's the best question you've asked/have been asked in an interview? Which one was the lamest?

06 August 2012

The Other Classroom

I graduated college with 20K in student loans and not a whole lot of comprehension about education. In contrast, some of the smartest people I know didn't even graduate high school. One colleague - I call him Programmer 1 - dropped out of school after seventh grade. Yet he can worm his way around higher mathematic concepts, program in at least eight languages, and is at least bilingual (he gleefully refuses to speak anything other than English around me, so I can't confirm the third language). How did he manage this?

The other classroom. You know, where folks go after they leave work for the evening. They go home, pull up the laptop or book and start learning for their own benefit. One of my bosses told me about this classroom, and I initially dismissed it. Whatever happened to work/life balance? But it's not education solely for work -- it may be learning for the rest of your life.
A few years ago I had the opportunity to delve into information assurance. I didn't because it seemed too techie for me. Now I wish I'd looked into it because it may have helped with my writing and new media career. But the lost opportunity taught me an important lesson for right now - if you have a chance to learn a new skill, do it. It might help you. It might make interesting conversation for a networking party. But check out the other classroom.