Hey you, stop asking questions!

February 8, 2007

I survived a painful phone interview with a candidate today. I can only describe it in the following manor: imagine Batman saying to Robin, hey sidekick, take your own car and don’t crash here either. Or, a football coach saying, it’s not about the team, rather individual performance!

This applicant had prestigious employment addresses such as highly rated research centers, recognizable global service providers, a PhD from a top rated university, with titles along the lines of Sr. Systems Architect and Scientific Programmer, with 15 years experience. Pretty impressive so far.

I was really looking forward to talking with this person. After all, in general, I hold the endeavors of most institutions of advanced research and learning in high regard.

After exchanging the usual pleasantries and introductions within the IT industry, I asked him about his experiences with Agile practices, admittedly, he said:

“I do not know what this is, what is the meaning of this? Agile? What is this? Not something for me to care about, who cares about this?”

I tell him it is a methodology, a way of developing software, it is not technology specific. Agile exists to address the high
percentage of software projects that fail in various ways for different reasons.

“The industry leaders, the international companies, they are not practicing this, this is something new, they did not get where they are using Agile, it is not widely accepted in the market, so, it does not matter to me. Why do you keep asking these questions about methodology?”

At this point I mention I am a bit surprised at his responses. His voice raises, he starts talking wildly about things like global politics mentioning world leaders and established industry standards.

I was able to end the conversation relatively gracefully by saying I’d send him some reference material.

I do respect insights based on higher learning. However, I do not appreciate uninformed resistance to new ideas. This quickly seems ridiculous. Never, ever, stop asking questions. Never, ever stop increasing your knowledge.

Crystal Richardson

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6 Responses to “Hey you, stop asking questions!”

  1. Paul Says:

    Wow! Good thing you ended THAT interview as quickly as possible…

  2. tommitoes Says:

    Are you kidding me?! I’m pretty sure that I could list some industry leaders who are utilizing Agile — and I’m just a newbie!!

  3. Laszlo Says:

    yeah, really…. Just looks at Danube’s homepage: Intuit, Intel, Oracle, Microsoft. Google, HP, Motorola, Dicom, Amdocs, Siemens….

    It’s funny how stuff like this happens. I remember about hearing about pair programming and XP in 99/2000 and thinking it was a trick developers used to work less. Hopefully this candidate can come as long of a way as I have to understanding the importance of technical debt (http://danube.com/whitepapers) and the import of communications and collaboration.

    Just my 2 cents


  4. I noticed this guy was very successful in school and probably in his career. When my sister was in law school she discovered other students would check out every available copy of the same book to ensure their “colleagues” would do worse than them. After all, they were graded on a curve for individual performance. Some academic environments train us to be individual performers at the expense of team performance.

  5. chriscoy Says:

    That is the difference between conceptual learners, adapters – and memorizers, book-smarts-only folks. Isn’t it said that true knowledge exists in realizing you know nothing? I’m not adept with Agile processes *yet* but I do think it’s wise to constantly add to one’s bag of tricks. I would never pick someone like that for ANY team of mine; I would need thinkers, the ever expanding type. Let the rest of them mass produce the boiler plates… yawn.

  6. Dave Says:

    Earning a PhD is not easy, but sometimes a PhD is a red flag when it comes to delivering value in a business environment. I’ve had problems with employees who held PhDs. I don’t want to slip into stereotypes, but many tend to be better at talking than doing. I’d rather have someone who is determined to get things done and willing to try new things than someone who has memorized “the literature” about a subject.


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