A reader sent me an e-mail and a link to Jason Calacanis’ article: How to Hire–and Get Hired in a Recession.
Calacanis advises the candidate to make it clear that you are a super hard worker. You keep up with the industry trends. You give your all to your company. He gives 8 questions he likes to ask.
1. Do you live to work or work to live?
2. Do you consider yourself a workaholic? Do you think there is anything wrong with being a workaholic?
3. Are you able to turn it off at 6 p.m. and on Friday for the weekend? You don’t get obsessed by work, do you? (Trick question!)
4. Do you consider yourself a balanced person?
5. How would you feel if we all needed to come in on the weekend to make a deadline?
6. How would you feel if this happened two weekends in a row?
7. It’s a tough time right now, and we’re super short-staffed—how would you feel if I
asked you to cover for [insert job lower than candidate's experience] when they’re on vacation?
8. Speaking of vacation, do you bring your BlackBerry and laptop with you to check in? Or do you like to unplug completely?
He gives examples of ideal answers to questions: (“Finally, I’ve made a philosophy of not leaving the office until my boss does…. I think that’s the honorable thing to do.”)
Readers, are, predictably, in totally disagreement. He’s described as pompous and out of touch.
My reader, however, agrees with this position and asks me: “Am I crazy for appreciating the sense Jason makes in his article, or is he draconian as the readers make him out to be?”
My answer is yes. Jason makes sense and he is draconian. (And yippee for the chance to use the word “draconian” in a post. Twice. Although technically one is in a quote.)
Now, first of all, I want to work with hard working people. I don’t want any slackers on the same team I am working on. I’ve had slackers and they are not appreciated. However, getting in before everyone else and leaving after everyone else does not make one a non-slacker.
Jason is confusing “hard work” for “long hours.” He places a lot of emphasis on face time.
I think face time is important to your career. I also think results are more important. Yes, there is a correlation between lots of hours and high performance. But it’s just a correlation, not necessarily a causation. We all know people who put in a ton of hours, but are slow in their actual work. They take too long on the wrong things.
I had a coworker once who would spend numerous hours writing detailed criticisms on the formatting of reports. (Change this to font sized 12. Increase the thickness of the line at column G. Widen column H by 2 points. Highlight row 4, except for column B. And so on and so forth. A one page Excel report could have 25 items she wanted changed. None of them substantive.) She worked long hours. But, writing up these criticisms (which changed every month, so you could never use last month’s criticism as a guide for this month’s report) took longer than making the changes herself ever could.
She was about as inefficient as the day was long. Yet, she could have answered the questions to this man’s questions “correctly” and received a job offer. And she would have been the first in and the last to leave and gotten no more than half the work done that an efficient employee who worked an 8 hour day did.
My point in all of this is that Calacanis is right, and Calacanis is wrong. Hard work is important. Smart work is important. Philosophies of work are important. I DON’T want employees who feel like they are tethered to their blackberries/laptops on vacation. I DO want ones that take a break. But, I also do want to be assured that if a crunch comes, everyone will be willing to come in on a weekend.
That’s a culture thing. But, if crunches keep coming, well then, that’s bad management. So, no I wouldn’t be willing to come in every weekend.
One more note: In his example he mentions the person applying for a VP position. In my experience, smart work and long hours are both required to rise to that type of position. So, yeah, sacrifice of other things are necessary for success at that level. I don’t want to be a VP of anything, so there is my bias.
I bet the readers who objected so strongly don’t want to be VPs either. At least, they aren’t willing to pay the price.
Fortunately, companies function best when not everyone wants to be the boss.