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Picking a Boss

Posted: Thu Jun 16, 2011 11:18 pm
by RTH
When interviewing for a job, especially the first engineering one out of school, a new grad is usually humble and letting the interviewer take the lead in discussions. And if the grad is hungry for a job, they will be compliant to gain favor and that might be making a mistake. Your first job will put you into a field of technology that may set a life’s career. So you would like to have the wisdom to choose a field of your liking, but lacking any experience, you might not have much insight about a particular job or career path.

During the interview, you would like to be interviewed by someone technical who can quiz your skills and interests and fit them into an available job. But many times, a company will send out interviewers who are from the HR office and don’t really have the insight to evaluate your capabilities. They are given a bunch of canned questions that are thrown out and your answers are interpreted by some criteria and who knows whether you said the right or wrong thing. I have interviewed many engineering candidates at colleges and have always tried to dig a little into the grads motivation and real interests to hopefully make a match for them and the company that will last. If a grad did not appear to fit, I had the honesty to tell him so. Rules may not permit that today so I’m speaking from 15-20 yrs ago.

But the grads have a choice too. You want to find the person you will be actually working for to see how much they know about the technology you will be working in. If company policies do not have you speak/interview directly to your boss, don’t take the job. You do not want to be hired by some invisible boss only to learn later that they don’t have sufficient knowledge to teach you the fundamentals of the business. You want to sit across from the boss and feel confident they have abilities and consideration to teach and that he/she knows the technology thoroughly and is willing to share it. You want to be asked questions on how to analyze a technical problem, on how you might approach an issue, on what to do if you are stuck, and you want to know the person you report to has the skills to appreciate your abilities and can enhance your knowledge. If you know more than the boss, don’t take the job. And if your potential boss has a little white in his hair, consider that a positive.
Bob H