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Thursday, December 06, 2007

Avoiding a Question

I got sent a question about interviewing a potential HRIS manager. I punted to Evil HRIS Guy and he answered, in part:
Have you any experience with outsourcing, or dealing with a SaaS vendor?

Chances are your senior management is going to read a trade rag or buy into the groupthink that outsourcing saves money at all costs and you are going to have to deal with outsourcing. If you have, tell me about it and how you would deal with a vendor with poor support?

This is why I sent it to him, because, of course, he's right and I wouldn't have thought of it.

My one thought on hiring someone technical, if you are not technical yourself, is get someone techy to interview as well.

When I was hired as an HRIS manager, Mr. Techy said to me, "Your resume says you know Microsoft Access."

"Yes," I said, "I can't do visual basic or SQL, but I do have a great deal of experience with queries, forms and reports."

He gave me an inquisitive look, "Do you know what an update query is?"

I thought the man must be an idiot. Anyone with a basic knowledge of Access knows that. "Yes," I said.

"Can you give me an example of how you have used an update query and an append query?"

I did, and I thought it was strange--until about a year later. I was hiring a temp. "Do you know Access?" I asked.

"Yes," she said.

"What have you done in Access," I asked.

"Queries, forms, reports, you know," she said. I didn't delve any deeper.

Turns out she had run queries that other people had written. Done data entry on forms other people had developed. Run reports other people had written. Oops. She was shown the door two weeks later.

And I learned my lesson.


class-factotum said...

Oh yes you need to ask those questions! A temp agency asked if I knew Access. Sure, I said, having built reports in it. The temp lady didn't bother to test me on Access. She said that the client needed someone who knew databases and Access. I thought I did, so I took the job.

A day into the job, I realized I did now know how to do what the client needed. I spent the next day trying to teach myself how to build a database, but decided that that was not an appropriate use of the client's money. I told him I was very sorry, that I did not have the knowledge necessary to do the job, and that I did not expect to be paid for the two days I had been there.

It was an embarrassing experience for me. I hated to let down the client and didn't want to waste anyone's money.

I went home and went through all the Microsoft tutorials to learn Access, built a basic database for the client, and emailed it to him. But I still didn't like being in the position of not being able to do what I had been hired to do.

NiteSiren said...

Thanks for answering my question! I'll try not to be as evil when interviewing!

class-factotum said...

Ooops! Did NOT know!