Jun. 10th, 2017

mtbc: maze N (blue-white)
Of our constituency's candidates, the incumbent Pete Wishart, Scottish National Party, beat the MEP Ian Duncan, Scottish Conservative and Unionist, by only 21 votes out of 51,525 cast, and our constituency wasn't the closest. As usual, Labour were barely on the radar and the Liberal Democrats worse still. Around Perthshire we have plenty of landowners; in the two Dundee city constituencies Labour usually do better than here and the Conservatives worse though the SNP hold those seats comfortably.

After this latest election there seems to be a deepening rift between the Scottish Conservatives who gained seats and the ones down south who lost seats. I find it interesting how the parties up here, even the Greens, typically have their own organization and separate manifesto.
mtbc: maze C (black-yellow)
For a few years I led technical hiring in a small business. Within reason I had the freedom to run that hiring largely as I wished. Seeing as Americans tend to have detailed college transcripts I typically wanted to see some coding examples and their transcripts for a first interview and by the seat of my pants I would let these and the applicant's answers to questions lead the course of the interview in a very personalized way. For different candidates I had correspondingly different concerns and often some latitude to tailor the position to them after hiring. For some applicants who seemed to be doing passably but without any dazzle I would sometimes extend the interview to give them a few more questions to see if they could manage a late jump above the bar. With one candidate, whom I became very glad to have hired, during their first interview they made a dumb mistake halfway through and seemed to fall apart afterward: I risked offering them a second interview in which they did fine.

Colleagues would tell me that I give tough interviews; they felt sorry for the candidates. This is partly because I wanted to know how far the applicant could go and how well they can still dance a little way out into new territory so I would typically ask enough to find if they knew a bit more or could guess intelligently. It was a good sign if they couldn't answer all of my questions confidently because it meant I was interested enough in them to find what the extent of their ability was. Further, I wanted to know that what was listed for them on paper was actually still somewhat also in their head: if they cram for an examination then forget the material then that is of no use to anybody.

This is not to say that I was perfect at hiring: one time I managed to hire somebody with A grades in a three-course undergraduate series in analog electronics. In later needing to construct some interface hardware for high-speed data acquisition I was alarmed to apparently be introducing them to the concept of an operational amplifier. I also managed to hire a software developer who was clever but unfortunately confidently thought themself to be cleverer than they were. Mostly I did well though.

Last week I was on an interview panel for a position at the university. It was interesting and odd to be working within a formal process imposed by those above me. Especially, each candidate is to receive the same interview, very much down to duration and questions. While it is not how I would run my own business, I can certainly understand the organization's desire to ensure fairness and as their employee I play by their rules. Still, it makes for new challenges: for example, noting what I would have liked to ask each of the diverse candidates then trying to generalize that to questions also useful or applicable with the others. So, we asked what we needed while indeed doing our best to interview the applicants identically. It was a very odd experience for somebody with my recruitment background but I think that it worked well enough.

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Mark T. B. Carroll

September 2017

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