Left Behind Part II – Problems of the Singularity and the Job Interview

Recently, I had a job interview with United Health Group.  They appear to be a good, employee centered company, with positive future prospects and they are hiring a lot of people.

The job interview went for the most part pretty well.  There were stumbling blocks.  My previous two employers never tracked expenses and project progress what I would call properly in light of my education as a PMP.  I owned up to this – and said that I had learned a lot about the correct way of tracking project expenses and progress and that I had never used EVM (Earned Value Management) in the real world.  I suppose this was the wrong thing to do.  I certainly know enough about EVM, the rather simple formulas for calculating PV (Planned Value), EV (Earned Value) and, (AC) Actual Cost – and the different performance indexes that can be calculated as well.  However, I’m not willing to lie in an interview that I have done these things in a project.

An interview is the start of a professional relationship – and one of the least professional things you can do is lie about your experience and what you know.

This was one of two missteps I made in the interview.  The other (which might be more problematic) is that as soon as I arrived I gave one of the hiring managers my updated resume.  I’m not working at the moment so it wasn’t an update for work experience.  It was an update containing my completing two courses in the Coursera Data Science track.  I, was very proud of these things and announced it as if it should be a good point.

This; however, didn’t go over well with the hiring manager that I was with in-person.

“Why would you do that?” he responded incredulously.

I launched in to an explanation about how there are two philosophies about project management.  The one group that indicates that a good project manager need know little or nothing about what the project is doing, they should have the skills to organize it and learn about the project’s topic while in the project.  The second philosophy is that you need to have significant knowledge about the project you are managing in order to manage it effectively.  I belong firmly in the second camp.

I don’t think he was impressed by my argument as he himself was a DBA.  So, we actually agree on the project management philosophy that you have to know about the topic of your project in order to manage the project effectively.  What he didn’t see (and was unable to imagine on his own) was that technology is expanding.  In order to be able to manage the information technology projects of the future – not only do you have to know and understand project management principals, tools and techniques, and processes – but you have to continue learning the new technologies that are coming out.

Eventually, if you do not continue to learn about the new technologies in IT, you will find yourself on the wrong part of the curve – as unable to understand the project you are working on as if you were a person taken off the street with no knowledge about databases and made to work on an advanced database project.

Now, I know I wasn’t in a good place in this interview, but an interview is hardly the place to talk about the technological singularity – or that even beyond the philosophy of knowing the technology you are working in order to successfully manage information technology projects.

In addition, the interview was only an hour long (it ended up being 1.5 hours long, which in the beginning I thought was a good thing), and delving in to the proofs I have about the oncoming technological singularity, would have taken more time that I simply didn’t have in the interview.

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