Personality checks during an interview

There are some very important personality-analysis questions, that one should ask, while interviewing a person. I re-emphasize here, these are over and beyond the technical interview that one needs to do – to make sure the interviewee (if hired), will do his/her job well.
Trent @ simpledollar does a wonderful job in summarizing this. Some questions that I routinely ask (and are mentioned in this post) are:

4. Describe to me the position you’re applying for.
11. Tell me about the most difficult project you ever faced.
21. Are you applying for other jobs?
23. Where do you see yourself in your career in five years?
24. What are your long-term goals – say, fifteen years down the road?

Each of these questions give a good feel of the candidates energy, and honesty. Read the full article here.

Go further than the interview

DLB has a brilliant article on how to hire (and how not to hire actually). He writes this piece, detailing him hiring a person based on his previous method of interview, and how it failed. He then does a post-mortem, and shares his current way of interviewing. One neat idea that he proposes is to setup a 60 minute interview. Ask your technical questions for 40 minutes, and stop. With the candidate having informed that it was a 60 minute interview, now ask him, how he felt about the job. Ask him how he feels the interview is going. Observe him. If he is unsure, and shifty, then you know — this guy is probably just a master of interviews. Do you really want to hire him.

Then, with about 10 minutes left, give him a problem to work out right there (a problem which resembles the real-world job that you are about to entrust to him). A problem which would take atleast 60 minutes. Does he groan? Does he say that he needs to leave (it is perfectly fine, if he has a legit reason, but is he trying to weedle out?)

I would want to add a couple of things that I do as well:

I usually give the candidate to ask a few questions. This can gauge the amount of interest that he has in joining your organization. Observe how deep his questions are. Make sure the are not superficial ones (like how is your corporate culture – that is a textbook question).

I also ask the candidate to describe in his own words – what he understood about the job he is applying for. Is he just describing what was in your job description? Is he being more verbose? Did he go through your corporate website before he came in to the interview?

The full article from DLB is here.

Stop blaming “the man”

(Image courtesy: Library of Congress Flickr page)

The simple dollar has an amazing article on working smart.
He talks about how people should first stop blaming other people for what they are doing.

The paragraph that I liked best, and I paraphrase here:

Folks of various ethnicities would complain about white folks, women would complain about men, white men would complain about rich people, liberals would blame “trickle-down Reaganomics” conservatives, conservatives would blame “socialist” liberals. Everyone had “the man” holding them down, and they looked for someone else to blame.

He has listed a long list of things that anyone can do, to better himself/herself. A very well thought-of list.The simple dollar has done it again. Kudos !

Read the full article here.

Customer service

Good customer service is what I define as, the good feeling that one experiences, when one walks out of a store – the feeling that he was cared for, the feeling that he would return back again, the feeling that he got his moneys worth – the reinforced feeling that Customer is indeed God.

I went to the Nike shop in Garuda Mall (in Bangalore) today. I found a shoe that I had been looking for, on sale. A young guy in a Jeans, tee-shirt, and ofcourse Nike shoes, came and introduced himself to me, and casually asked me what I was looking for. I showed him the shoe that I wanted and asked him for my size. He asked me to sit down, and went to look for my size. Within moments, I found him sitting down on the floor (in a very comfortable position) and measured my foot size. Just looking at him, sitting down in a comfy position, chatting with me, and fitting the shoe on me, made me feel comfortable, and believe him. That is good customer service. Once I was done, he smiled at my wife, and asked if she would like a shoe for herself. Then very politely, asked if we wanted any Nike apparels. When we answered in the negative, within moments, he was at the billing counter, getting the receipt ready, and packing my shoe.

If you notice, in the above anecdote, there is no mention of stereotyped response messages like “Is there anything else, I may help you with?”, or “Welcome to the store, what can I help you with?”. These are not what define good customer service (even though sometimes, it may be the minimum criteria). It is going beyond that, and making the customer feel comfortable. Thats what makes the difference.

2 oz of ideas and 1 oz of courage

.. is the recipe for enterpreneurship. Just ideas are not good enough. Just courage is not good enough. You need both.  I happened to read the following article on cookingmoney blog. The blog entry says that it is an exerpt from the Times of India dated Jan 22, 2007. I am pasting some exerpts from it here.

 Abrush, a bucket and an idea came together. Sandeep Gajakas knew it was an inflammable mixture. He was on to something. He would start a laundry service for shoes. His father did not like it, but Gajakas, 26 then, was beyond being dissuaded ….

He quit his job and started distributing handbills asking people who wanted to clean their sports shoes to contact him. The response was tremendous. The Andheri resident would get calls from all corners of Mumbai. He would then run to their houses, get the shoes, scrub them clean in his bathroom and deliver them for Rs 100 a pair. That was in 2004. Today, Sandeep is 28 and owns a business called The Shoe Laundry. He doesn’t need to wash Keds anymore. Nine boys trained by him do that now.

The article goes on to give two more examples. One is a firm that cleans large glass facades – one would think of it, in hindsight as a no-brainer – with so many IT and BPO firms housed in large classy glass facade buildings.  The other is a wierd idea – home cooked dog food – which apparently is a big success in Mumbai. Well, it confirms one supposition, Mumbai-me kuch bhi chaltha hai (anything is possible in Mumbai).

Read the full post here.

Marc starts blogging …

Marc Andreessen, founder of Netscape, has started his own blog. His posts are a wee bit long, but filled with information, and punctuated occasionally by wit. All in all, makes very good reading. Of course, being who he is, he has super duper traffic on his site.

Two of his posts, that I am cross-linking here, are defenitely worth reading. Very insightful.

In the post titled ‘Pmarca’s guide to personal productivity, he admits, that he does drool over personal productivity websites, like lifehacker,, David Allen etc. Wow. Nice. He goes on to share what has worked for him. [read the full article]

In another post titled, “How to hire the best people ..”, he outlines, what a hiring manager should focus on, while hiring people. Brilliant. This has got to be one of the best posts in this category. [read the full article]