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Being The Best vs. Being Affordable

I read a post on Brent Ozar’s blog last week that discussed employers’ expectations when hiring new team members.  Though the story was specific to database professionals, the same principles apply to almost any hiring situation.  The moral of Brent’s story is that when hiring, just like in real life, you have to compromise what you may really want to stay within the budget you have to spend.  If you had an unlimited budget, you’d hire Paul Randal to be your DBA, Emeril to be your cafeteria manager, that Sham-Wow guy would lead the janitorial team, and every employee would have a corner office and lunchtime massages.  Most situations don’t lend themselves to that kind of financial freedom, so you settle for more affordable talent.

There’s a flip side to this, specifically from the perspective of the candidate.  Everyone who has sat for an interview worries that they’ll be passed over in favor of someone who is better qualified.  Only the most arrogant truly believe that they are the best talent money can buy; the vast majority of people have enough self awareness to know that there are others who are better qualified, smarter, and willing to work for less money. 

For the job candidate, the takeaway from this is to simply be yourself.  Understand that the employer wants to find the best person for the job, but they’re operating within a certain budget, and they won’t make their decision on skills alone.  Don’t try to convince your interviewer that you’re Seinfeld if you’re closer to being Carrot Top, or even Ben Stein.  Be honest about your strengths and your weaknesses, and don’t try too hard to impress. Your transparency will be apparent to any interviewer worth his/her salt, and even if you’re not a fit for that position, you’ll make an ally for the next time an opening appears.

Tim Mitchell

Tim Mitchell is a business intelligence consultant, author, trainer, and Microsoft Data Platform MVP with over thirteen years of data management experience. He is the founder and principal of Tyleris Data Solutions.

Tim has spoken at international and local events including the SQL PASS Summit, SQLBits, SQL Connections, along with dozens of tech fests, code camps, and SQL Saturday events. He is coauthor of the book SSIS Design Patterns, and is a contributing author on MVP Deep Dives 2.

You can visit his website and blog at TimMitchell.net or follow him on Twitter at @Tim_Mitchell.


Posted by pankaj_pareek27 on 13 July 2009

hi Mitchell,

Yes its a fact that there are many employee with well qualification and knowledge who wants to work in less money, because there are rush in a market.

Posted by Brent Ozar on 14 July 2009

Hahaha, Carrot Top....

Posted by Jack Corbett on 14 July 2009

Both posts, yours and Brent's, are interesting.  I think the point in Brent's post is that hirer's need to be realistic and in yours that the candidate needs to be real.

Posted by StephenL on 14 July 2009

My philosophy is; I’m not too concerned if I’m passed over for a job.  The company should know what they are looking for, if they don’t see that in me (assuming I present my qualifications well), it is probably better that I _not_ get that job.  But I’m sure after 4 months of unemployment, that philosophy goes out the window, and I’ll be looking/begging for anything.

Posted by Ira Whiteside on 14 July 2009

Tick Tick Tick . . .

Posted by Steve Jones on 14 July 2009

The other important thing is that the team needs to be a spectrum of people. You can't have all superstars, who will handle the low level jobs.

The important thing for me has always been team fit, with people that I can count on to get things done second. Hot shot technical skills third.

Posted by K. Brian Kelley on 16 July 2009

Agreed. I will work hard on my skills, and I will try to know as much as possible. But in interviews, I've been very forthright with my strengths and weaknesses. And if I am asked a question I don't know, I admit it right away. I've seen some good advice on then indicating how you would go about getting said answer, which I will follow next time I have to do an interview. If I'm not sure I understand what they are asking, I ask for clarification.

Posted by Igor Zaychik on 16 July 2009

When you talking about team players think is person you are interviewing is team player for you (the boss) or for the others specifically his potential subordinates.

Posted by kuldip.bhatt on 7 August 2009

I feel honesty is the best weapon in interview.

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