Be True to Your Heart

When you're interviewing and are asked to share what you're most interested in. You'd better know. You'd better be enthused about it. And don't abandon it, or you'll look insincere.

Recently my teammate and I had a lunch interview with a potential future teammate. As a lunch interview, it was mostly just a test as to the seriousness of the candidate and the opportunity as well as a team fitness test. So, pretty laid back. No hard core technical questions. Mostly shooting the breeze about the tech industry, current positions, and thoughts on technology. So, there's plenty of room for inference based on opinions shared.

The guy we were talking to was comfortable working on the frontend and the backend. From what we could tell, he was probably capable all around. Then my teammate asked a great question: What do you really enjoy? The change in demeanor versus the preceding 40 minutes of talk was noticeable. He lit up and exclaimed that he loved data -- data relationships, data mining, and statistics. He gave examples of things he had done recently and repeated his adoration of the subject. I was caught up in his enthusiasm.

Then we made it more clear that we were on the frontend team, and the things he was most interested in were definitely not frontend. My teammate told him that he'd get him in touch with our backend team lead.

Then he said that he could do both frontend or backend. He'd be happy with frontend. He loves learning new things. "Will you interview me for a frontend position? Just forget about my data comments." was essentially what he was saying -- or at least what I was hearing.

Oh, man! My heart sank. I was really kind of sad that he had essentially abandoned what he said he found most joy in. It was an opportunistic move, even practical. But I was pretty disappointed. The guy seemed smart. If so, he could probably pick his opportunity in this wonderful software industry of ours. So why cave and totally deny the opportunities for what you really claim to enjoy to take the opportunity you had only had a lunch chat about?

His initial enthusiasm about his love of data was fun and contagious. To see him deny it in the next breath made it feel like more of a play. Perhaps it wasn't, but when you betray your true love, it makes me wonder at your general sincerity. If you like something in tech and you're good at it, you should do it, hold out for it, and odds are you'll get your opportunity.