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T-SQL Tuesday #174 – My Favorite Interview Question


This month is a great topic to me. I think growing and improving your career is a skill that most of  us could improve, especially in our younger years. The invitation from Kevin Feasel is a good one from which you can learn a lot.

I am looking forward to the responses from others.

If you want to host an invite one month, ping me and request a date. Most of 2024 is full, but I have a few months, and I certainly am happy to schedule you into 2025. This is a great way to participate in the community, meet others, and challenge yourself. You just need a blog.

In this post I’m going to give two questions, one as an interviewer and one as interviewee.

My Favorite Interview Question for Candidates

When I interview someone, I usually have a list of things to ask them to better help me compare candidates, but these are associated with digging into knowledge, however this question really helps me.

What have you learned recently?

I don’t expect candidates to know everything. I expect to have to teach them quite a bit about my environment. However, what I want from them is an effort to learn. My view is that some people are constantly learning things and others are content to rest on their previous knowledge/experience.

If someone hasn’t learned anything recently, I don’t necessarily write them off, but I might probe about what they have been doing, as well as how they prepared for a new job or the interview. Perhaps they’ve been busy with something (crisis, illness, etc.) and haven’t been improving in the short term, but if someone hasn’t learned anything in the last year they’re proud of, or they can’t remember when they last invested in themselves, I have a hard time investing in them as an employee.

Note, I will dig into ensure you learned something and aren’t just giving me an answer.

My Favorite Question as an Interviewee

In a lot of my jobs as a technologist, or a data professional, the job is the job. It’s very similar in many places. These days I do more architecture and advocacy, but if I were approaching a new job, I’d ask this:

What are the expectations around working hours?

I’d add context to this, but what I’m looking for are information for these items:

  • core working hours
  • on-call/non-core hours
  • punctuality

I don’t mind working hard, but I don’t expect to work a lot of non-core hours every week, or even too regularly. I don’t mind 40 or even 50, but beyond that I’m not going to be happy.

I’m also not someone that punches a clock. If you expect me to be online (or in an office) every day at 8am, you’re going to be disappointed. I might be there at 7:45 or 8:15. I don’t avoid work, and I do my best to be early for meetings, but if nothing is scheduled, I will vary my start time. I usually warn a potential boss about this.

I used to ask about travel, but I’m over that. I don’t mind or worry about travel too much.

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