I love the movie Joe versus the Volcano. In fact, it is my all time favorite film. I probably watch it at least three or four times a year. One of my favorite parts of the films are the early scenes where Joe is working at his dead end job. Mr. Waturi is having a conversation on the phone with someone, and he says things like “I’m not arguing that with you.” and “I know he can get the job, but can he do the job?” His entire conversation seems to consist of variations of those two statements repeated over and over.
When, in my career, I have had the opportunity to be in on the hiring process, as I read over people’s resumes, I often think of those scenes. Many resumes, and even interviews, paint pictures of people who can get the job, but in my experience, less than half of them actually can do the job. I mean, really do the job, not just skating by doing passable work waiting for the next job, but doing the job well enough that I feel truly good about having hired them.
Every time I get into the hiring process from the other side, I run into the same bump. My resume looks decent enough, and I can usually shine through the initial interview, but when it comes to the technical interview I usually wind up looking like a chump.
Here is my problem… when I have a job, I spend my time doing that job, to the best of my ability. I will learn everything I need to know for that job and I will exceed every expectation of my employer. However, if there is a skill not required for my job, I don’t know it. Not even a little. I simply have never found it beneficial to prepare myself for a job I don’t have. Well, I can’t say “never” because clearly it would be beneficial to the interview process, but doing so would likely infringe upon my job performance or my life outside of my job.
Every job I have ever had, I was completely unqualified for on a technical level when I got the job. In every case, I interviewed, they really liked me on a personal level, and I managed to inspire them to take a risk and hire me anyway. Within days I always bring myself up to speed, and within months I am indispensable to the team, leading the way and cranking out the work.
The issue is that in recent years, the technical interview comes first, and I never get in the room with people to be able to personally inspire them. I do a phone screen, which consists of technical questions, and if I pass I get to go in a room with a couple members of the team, either a PC or a white board, and be bombarded with more technical questions. Since I spend so much effort be great at the job I do have, I don’t have much left to put in to being great at jobs I don’t have. I fail the technical interviews every time.
I know I can do the job, but can I get the job? So far, too often the answer is “no”.