"I've been doing X for over twenty years"
...to which I reply
......"and you've probably been doing it wrong the whole time"
It's funny, because writing this book has made me look back at my hiring decisions--and, you know what, the more I look at it, the more I see there's a completely inverse relationship between "the ideal paper candidate" and "the right person to hire."
1. Our first office manager at Centric was possibly certifiably insane, and yet she literally made us an effective, solidly profitable company for the first time by the systems she put in place.
2. Our first head of interactive development at Centric was a barista at Starbucks that this office manager offered a job to. He took the initiative to create an entire programming division for Centric.
3. Our best creative director we found selling prefab homes in Second Life.
4. Our best creative/programming/marketing hybrid started as someone we didn't know what to do with, with no credentials (he was a temp/intern) and has gone on to make the online marketing part of Centric the most consistently effective part of the company--and he's a great designer, too.
7. Our operations manager at Schiit, which is the subject of another chapter.
And, on the other hand:
1. The most qualified directors of interactive development we've had have been the ones who (a) never showed up, (b) were prima-donnas, or (c) tried to sue us.
2. The most qualified design people we've hired have lasted an average of 30 days, before quitting in a huff over their art.
3. The most qualified creative director we had was so rigid, he didn't fit with the company.
Makes you think, doesn't it.
(Oh, and as far as kissing the ass of the boss? Try it in our biz--marketing or electronics--and see how far it gets you. That's a very sure way to not working for us for long, because it makes us think you're covering something up. I know that it's standard business practice to say, "compliment the boss, dress like the boss, etc" but that's just scary.)
Exactly Jason. It's the *PERSON* who fits with a job, not what they can put on a resume. Back when I was teaching at San Jose State in N. Cali, I used to tell my students that if they think their degree all by itself was sufficient to think again. When I am evaluating a potential hire, a college degree tells me that they were able to finish the program at their school, not that they know anything or can DO anything, and it tells me nothing about who they are. As someone once said, "Don't tell me who you are, for who you are speaks louder than any words."
Could not just be HR's fault, but the fault of Universities having such ****ty program's that even a PhD does not guarantee a skilled person.
As a university student I feel like I lack every kind of actual skill the program is supposed to teach me. You simply study a couple weeks before each exam and forget it the day after.
I'm glad I don't want to work in the field I'm studying, I'd probably suck at it despite the education.
Assuming you're referring to computer science/computer engineering or other related fields, this is not really a surprise. Qualities that make good researchers don't necessarily overlap with qualities you want in good engineers. People with PhD's in computer science generally earn them because they've proven they can do research, not write code. If you're hiring PhDs with the expectation that they're going to program the next Office or Clippy, that's a case of squandered resources.
For full disclosure, I work in the field, have participated in a lot of interviewing, don't have a PhD, but have worked with a lot of PhDs in the past.
Let me preface my post by saying that I have worked with many great HR professions in my time. Dedicated and reasonable folks. However, after dealing with HR departments over various industries for over 30 years I have learned that they are the small minority. Another fact that I have learned is that many HR employees are lazy. They may be hard workers but when it comes to repetitive or confrontational activities they will do anything to get out of them or find a lazy way around them. I can't tell you how many confrontations I have had with HR over their hiring practices and their attempts to override my hiring managers. Last year, one of my managers was attempting to hire a very qualified individual with years of experience and great references. HR didn't want to hire him because he didn't have a Bachelors Degree. I had to override the divisional head of HR before we hired the person. The person was hired and has been a great employee. So, what we crossed was the unwritten lazy rule which states that HR can eliminate candidates and thereby reducing their workload by coming up with absolute criteria each candidate much satisfy before they will be evaluated. I ended up reviewing this criteria last year and throughout over half of it.
The other rule I have learned over the years is to go with your gut feeling. Nearly every time I have gone against my gut I regretted it.
I've now stepped off my soap box.
Put a PhD in a chemical plant and watch that plant fall into the ground. I've seen them wreak absolute havoc on a business. They think up in the clouds, not on the ground. Nothing they do is practical. Just pipe dreams that don't take practical knowledge into account at all.
THIIIISSSSSSS. See my post above. Couldn't agree with you more.
I've seen this many times as well. We've hired people with almost no real qualifications for a pretty demanding position, but they're eager and sharp and they ask question and they work their ass off. And they "feel right". After a 2-3 months they will do they job as well as anyone I've worked with.
Others with excellent CVs have turned out to be dissapointments.
One of the biggest warning bells for me is how long they've been at their previous jobs. If you have a great CV but only stayed 1-2 years at each job it probably means something isn't right.
My favorite interview story involved my son who was working as a sales rep for a small not well regarded software company. He interviewed with a number of highly regarded companies competing against applicants with serous more impressive resumes from major companies He really never expected to get past the 1st round. But with Tom what you see is what you get hard working, honest, smart, loyal, 24/7 time availability no surprises. He gets a call to have lunch with the Pres of the Co The HR guy tells him the job is his just don't throw up on Pres. At lunch the big guy asks him what where his greatest regrets at xyz co, He responded that his sales numbers should have been higher. The Pres laughed and said he was amazed how much of that crap he actually sold and was an amazing sales rep and a dedicated loyal employee to previous firm and he respected that
Hey, there's nothing wrong with Kansas.