Shaun Windram | 29 May 2018
For around 12 years, I’ve made a living asking dumb questions: I ask them to candidates and I ask them to clients – so I know good answers when I hear them. So, in my world, I'm in a favourable position to help everyone – both client and candidate – get what they want and need from their career and their business (from a staffing perspective). In this post, I hope to help those of you heading into interviews – unsure of what your answers should be – to deliver some killer responses, and make it tough for people to say no to you.
Now, you'd think that a technical hiring manager speaks the same language as a developer, but this isn't always the case. Candidates like to talk ‘technical’, clients like to talk ‘customers’ (for the avoidance of doubt, customers can be both external or internal). For me, this often leads to an accidental misalignment of value for both parties and without getting all Simon Sinek on you, most fail to articulate why they do what they do.
In my experience, most technical people start with what they do. For example, they might say they develop software using a particular stack. Some might then go on to say how they do it – but few go the full nine yards to describe why they did it.
Data people are particularly bad at this (sorry, but give me a shout if you’re struggling, I’ll help you out here). Whereas CI people in FMCG are immense at it.
The ‘why’ can be a host of things from making the customer’s experience better, to saving the company money (perhaps in operational costs). Or, if you're truly entrepreneurial, you may have suggested a feature that generated revenue for the business, though this can be hard to quantify.
By going the extra mile, you can differentiate yourself from other interviewees. Never a bad thing, but on a more strategic level, you will be articulating your career achievements and that you think on a commercial level – the latter is what most CTOs are interested to hear.
So, in short, technical is ‘pocket jacks’ and good, but technical and commercial is a winning hand; you’ve essentially traded your Jacks for Aces – and that’s hard to beat.
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