Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Interview: Attentive to detail? It is a rather low bar to pass.

 I remember early in my career there were several questions I struggled with in interviews. One of those questions was "Are you detail oriented?" In my mind, I am always seem to miss a minor detail. I seem to consistently score 99% than 100%. If there was a silly mistake to make, I can make it. So I was always hesitant in responding to this question. But of course, I knew better and responded yes anyways because there is no other answer to this question.

First, what a useless question from interviewers to ask a question that any intelligent person can answer but cannot verify.

Second after years of experience, I am way, way, way, way more detail oriented than most people I have worked with. And those that were more detailed spent too much time on details than getting the work done. I know most people will claim this whether this is true or not, but I am saying that they are on the more extreme side. 

Because everyone kind of have to answer that question (now more indirectly than directly like in the past), that means all those people also claimed they are detail-oriented.

Now, I want to say that I am far from perfect. But there are so, so, so many details that I catch that just makes me wonder why we even hired this person. What broke the camel's back to make my publish this post was where one of our developers repeated the same ticket number in the description. The number is right next to the original number. The developer added to the description, #12345, right next to that exact number so that it read #12345, #12345.

COME ON.... that is too blatantly obvious. They even had to click in the field to update so it is not like they copy/pasted too quickly.

Another example is when they provide their list of changes, they consistently miss items on their list. More than 50% of the time.

Grouping remaining examples together: they misspell objects (in development this is quite important because they are use shorthand so I cannot tell if it is intentional or not), they repeat items, they do not enter data consistently (eg they will repeat an item name but have different types).

I am lucky to have one good ticket with no errors 10% of the time. And this is just with requests. If I get into email messages, instant messages, etc... it just boggles my mind how terrible my colleagues are with details. Of course, I am not saying they are terrible people or workers. I am just saying that being detail-orient is way more overrated than most intelligent people think.


If you ever get the question, be confident that you are detail-oriented especially if you finished in the top 10% of your high school class or got into a top-tier university, you are easily more detail-oriented than most people.

That is besides the point that the question is just useless like "are you a good person?" or "are you telling the truth?" One answer lets you progress and the other... well, no one chooses the other answer. That's why they are useless questions. Sometimes I wonder if HR even tries. Or if I want to be more open-minded, I think HR wastes too much time on the bottom 20% than the top 80%.

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