Hiring and Honesty

A short one.

You're interviewing a new person, and for a critical job. Because all positions are critical at the start. You have done technical questions. You heard relevant experiences from the past. You asked and checked references. She or he said its a dream to work for a company like yours. But you still want to assess fit. This is when you ask weird googly questions.

My most frequent one is "what do your friends and family say of you"? Meaning, what are your biggest shortcomings that really get to the nerve of even those super close to you? That little annoying character flaw that makes them sigh "I love you, but please don't push love this far". Most people get stuck or say something boring and irrelevant like "people complain that I'm too tidy". That's not good. If you want to hit it off with your new boss, you should be honest. Acknowledging a flaw is not necessarily a weakness.

I frequently subject myself to the same measure. It's very simple to answer in my case. I am a pain in the butt. Really. A first class, royal pain in the butt. If being a pain had a loyalty scheme, I'd be Diamond VIP. Most of my friends and family would tell you that I am obsessive about my ideas. To the point of being obstinate or downright rude when I really believe I have a point. I will go on and on and on about it until someone really defeats my idea with a rational argument. While I am reasonably open to very rational arguments, I rarely rely on other persons intuitions and abstract opinions. It's a serious flaw. If you invite me to your house, I will comment on the door hinges, creaks and how poorly chosen the faucets are. If I happen to go near your work, I will comment on stuff you do, don't do or might do like I have been an industry expert for 20 years. Sure, I will frequently make the disclaimer that I don't actually really know. But on the absense of understanding, I will conjure theories and frameworks, invent stupid ideas and engage in saccadic generalizations about how everything could work. Stuff like that. If you know someone like that, I am sorry for you. I appologize in the name of all obsessive-compulsive overly intense micromanagers.

My point is that being honest in an interview matters. Getting to know someone's flaws through her or his own words is a privilege, and it helps. It also makes a lasting impression, and possibly also a lasting friendship.