Thursday, October 20, 2005

The Rant To Beat ALL Rants

This week I want to talk about what's been happening recently on SSC. As probably most of you know, I wrote the first in a series of articles on interviewing. In case you haven't heard of it, you can read it here.

During the discussion on this article, some of you said it must have been a joke, while others reverted back to the dark ages and performed a modern version of the Inquisition. I'll get to how I feel about that in a minute, but first I want to explain what the article was all about.

I wanted to say this so many times during the discussion, but I really wanted to see how far it would go... and originally, I was going to come clean in the 2nd installment, but I just don't think it can wait.
Let me say first off that this was a very carefully crafted piece. Didn't any of you catch onto the fact that the article was called "How to Mess Up an Interview"... GET IT?? I messed up the interview... (actually, one guy did get it... thanks, Paul, and while I think genius may be stretching it, I appreciate the vote of confidence.)

I've always had a flare for the dramatic, and when I conceived this series I had one thought in mind and that was to really drive the point home. So what I decided to do in this first installment was to give the readers just a little something to show them the kinds of things that can start out innocently enough but then completely blow an interview. The published draft of the piece was probably my 7th rewrite. Believe it or not, I actually got the idea from one of the worst interviews I ever had the pleasure to conduct. This guy went off on how dumb his current employer was, and how he was the only one there who knew anything at all. In the course of answering a question about the biggest disaster he had ever been a part of, he had a few choice things to say about the people he worked with including referring to the NOC guy as a stupid N-word... 3 TIMES!!!
When I asked him about his team and how they work together, he referred to his fellow DBAs as Jesus freaks who would just assume hold hands around the server and sing Kumbaya than to actually learn anything to actually fix the problem. It amazes me sometimes the lengths people will go to keep you from hiring them.

So anyway, I wanted to write this first installment in a way that would completely fail an interview. I started with that guy's interview as a model, but I had to be more subtle. There's no way I could possibly say the things he said, so I wrote one draft after another trying to tone it down to not only something believable, but something that would get my point across. In other words, I wanted to be that guy you wouldn't hire because he's just a little too... off, I guess.

The point of that first piece was to show that regardless of what you have to say, if you say it wrong, nobody will listen. There was some good solid advice in that first installment, but many of you refused to even see it because of the way it was presented.

Some of you weren't offended at all. You are my main audience. Others just didn't listen because they didn't like the way it was presented, but they kept their professionalism and just stated that they disapproved and went on about their business. You are also my audience. However, the hardcore zealots out there who not only denounced me and my writing, but also SSC as a whole, well, you are not my audience, and frankly, I'm ashamed to be in the same community with you. You embarrassed yourselves, and you embarrassed us all with your childish and petty behavior. Imagine professional people going on a public site and making a spectacle of yourselves like you did... and even cursing. You were so self-righteous, and smug, and proper, that you forgot how to conduct yourselves in public.

And for those of you who had Steve remove you from the list because of it... I say good riddance. If you're going to be that way we don't want you anyway, and you're only hurting yourselves. Personally, I enjoy getting my SSC newsletter every day, and there have been a lot of good articles. If you guys want to screw yourselves out of the knowledge you get from SSC because of one carefully-crafted piece, then you deserve what you get.

Well, let me just say that I've proven my point.

I did get a lot of support privately though. Many of you wrote me to express your support. I want to thank each and every one of you who did that. And those of you who supported me publicly, I thank you too. I didn't think anything I said was offensive either, but apparently, that's the kind of thing you can't dictate.

That's fine though... you guys turned a simple article into some kind of holy war and gay-bashing party.

And by the way... that gay thing really wasn't a slam on homosexuals. It's just an idiom that some people use. You know, like those other literal idioms like 'pulling your leg', 'heart of gold', 'broken heart', 'be an a-hole', 'look a gift horse in the mouth', etc. And the point of putting in the piece was to show you in the next installment that you have to re-train yourself to not use common phrases that could possibly offend. I got called down at work once for using the phrase 'partners in crime'. You just never know what will set somebody off (evidently).

So now it's up to you guys... do you want to see the rest of the series or not???
I await your response.


Bryant (Tatsu) said...

Bring it on!!!

sushila said...

Sean - could you wait a couple more weeks till the next one - the furore caused by the first still has me reeling with "shock and awe"!:)

You also said that the second in the series is a toned-down version and has only "1 ritual sacrifice, and 2 sex acts with farm animals...also cut down on the language to only make fun of crippled asian jewish-catholic nazi lesbian hookers with toe fungus." - this is very disappointing to say the least - it obviously means that you've let all the -ve comments get to you and that you're losing the courage to speak your mind - regardless, I shall wait (not with bated breath) but at least with some sense of anticipation for the watered-down & meek "peek into the world of messy interviews - part 2"!!!;)

tracy said...

Dude, lay it on the line. Political correctness is suffocating me!! The more ruthless (read 'honest') you are the more refreshing.

Anonymous said...

Keep going Sean - I thought the article was funny!! And actually quite reasonable - if you take the "take your cue from the interviewer" reading of it!!!

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Sean McCown
I am a Contributing Editor for InfoWorld Magazine, and a frequent contributor to as well as I live with my wife and 3 kids, and have practiced and taught Kenpo for 22yrs now.
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