The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > In My Humble Opinion (IMHO)

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 02-29-2012, 03:44 PM
Why Child Why Child is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
About a question at a job interview.

“When you set out to do something, how do you know when you’re done?”

I went to a job interview, and that was one of the questions I was asked. It confuses me. If you know what you are trying to do, don’t you know when you’ve done it?
I answered that once I have accomplished whatever it was I wanted to do, I know that I am done. He said, “Yes, but how do you know when you’re done?” I am sure my perplexity showed. (I thought, “Maybe he’s looking for problem-solving skills, and/or ability to prioritize. Ok, I’ll fluff it a little.”) I responded, “Depending on how great a task I was trying to achieve, I would work out the logical steps in order to get it done. I would finish them in the necessary order, and once I had reached my goal, I would know I was done.” Again, he asked, “Yes, but how do you know?” I asked for an example of a goal. His reply, “Well, anything, really.” I hated to say it, but I finally told him that I must not understand the question.
What was he looking for? My "real life" friends don't get it, either. Does it seem a really simple question? When you’re done, you’re done!
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 02-29-2012, 03:46 PM
Red Barchetta Red Barchetta is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2006
I would have given him the answer in the form of walking out of the room.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 02-29-2012, 03:47 PM
Candyman74 Candyman74 is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
The correct answer is "I know I'm done because I suffer from no mental illness that would prevent such an obvious thing being apparent to me. This is a basic function of human activity, and comes naturally and intuitively to me. In fact, I believe that even animals comprehend the concept. What confuses me is why you feel it needs explaining?"
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 02-29-2012, 03:49 PM
perfectparanoia perfectparanoia is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Ontario, Canada
Posts: 2,136
He was probably looking for something about knowing it was done when the person (or persons) who asked you to do it were satisfied with the results. Customer (internal and external) focussed and all.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 02-29-2012, 03:50 PM
PacifistPorcupine PacifistPorcupine is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
What job were you applying for? Unless it's some industry where goals are so poorly defined that realizing that you've achieved it is a crapshoot, I don't understand the question either.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 02-29-2012, 04:02 PM
filmore filmore is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
I'm guessing he was looking for an answer like, "I know I'm done with the project when the customer for the project has approved it."

If you're doing work for someone, then you're not done until they approve your deliverable. For example, if you're asked create a website, the goal is not "create a website" You don't get to create a website, toss it over the wall, and move onto the next thing. The real goal is "work on the website until the customer agrees it meets their needs." Basically, you know you're done when your customer says you're done.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 02-29-2012, 04:03 PM
Ibanez Ibanez is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
When the boss stops asking you to do the task over.

Or,

Circus music suddenly fills the room and monkeys start flying out of my ass.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 02-29-2012, 04:15 PM
Lord Mondegreen Lord Mondegreen is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Off the top of my head, they were probably looking for a combination of Quality Management jargon and Project Management jargon. Something like:

"Before I commence a task I determine the metrics which give objective evidence as to the success or otherwise of the outcome. I also set checkpoints along the way to monitor progress. Periodic reviews have tolerances which, if exceeded, will trigger a review to determine the best way to bring the task back within the required performance criteria. Each checkpoint and review will result in a report to management, with an executive summary using a traffic light system.

"The task is a success when the original success criteria have been met. These criteria will almost always including a customer satisfaction metric."

It's nonsense of course, but that's interviewing for you.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 02-29-2012, 04:21 PM
Voyager Voyager is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Deep Space
Posts: 33,470
This is easy. There is no reason to start a job without a clear objective. Once you have accomplished that objective, you are done. The objective probably includes passing tests, or meeting some level of quality, or profit, or customer satisfaction.

In other words, if you don't know where you are going, you will never get there.
I like that question myself. I may use it some day.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 02-29-2012, 04:21 PM
RaftPeople RaftPeople is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
"When the synergies of the system are shown to be fully realized, then and only then do I consider the job done, biatch!"
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 02-29-2012, 04:29 PM
raspberry hunter raspberry hunter is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2009
So when I read this I thought of the project I'm working on right now. I'm developing an algorithm that... um, let's say, finds the location of widgets. I keep saying things to the program manager like, "But the algorithm only works if we know this information about how widgets are distributed. What if the widgets are distributed in a different way?" and "The code I'm writing only gives information about the widgets that can be processed to find the actual location; I haven't written code to do that processing."

At some point you just have to say enough! I've done enough to show that we can find the location of the widgets, and although the more we could do the more the customer would be impressed, it also has to do with the constraints of money and how it's overall going to help the corporate team I'm on.

So even though Mondegreen's thing above is a bit of gibberish, there is a grain of truth to it. You really do want objective tasks and metrics that tell you when you've succeeded, and bring that in line with practical considerations (budget, schedule).
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 02-29-2012, 04:38 PM
MichaelEmouse MichaelEmouse is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Maybe he was looking for something complex or jargon, we'll never know unless we ask him.


I'd have said something along the lines of "When I set out to accomplish a project, I want that project to do something. I know I'm done with the project when it does it."

Yes, this does leave the possibility of an infinite regression problem. Still, the means is different from the end. If I set out to clean my eyeglasses, I know I'm done when I can see through them clearly. When I set out to do legal research on a particular point, I know I'm done when I can say if a particular element is legal or illegal.

That is, a process is completed when it has produced the desired output or something close enough to it.

Maybe this is a trivial point and not even worth mentioning, but already one can see a distinction with Why child's way of doing things: My way determines if the process is done according to an external output. Why chid's way does it by referencing the process itself according to preset steps. You can sometimes go through the preset steps without getting the output you want and you can sometimes get the output you want without going through the preset steps.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 02-29-2012, 04:41 PM
gurujulp gurujulp is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Oakland, CA
Posts: 1,133
I agree.

Customer Satisfaction or measured Metrics.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 02-29-2012, 04:47 PM
IvoryTowerDenizen IvoryTowerDenizen is offline
Peep Ping Tom
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: North Shore of LI
Posts: 12,845
It's actually a decent question. My students will say "but I studied so much for this test" when they do poorly and I will ask them how they know they studied enough, or how they know when the paper is ready to be turned it etc. It often stumps them- they've thought to have a way, beyond hours spent on task, to know when the project is done.

For an employee, well you're not a student, but it's still a good question. If you have 20 different things going on, how will know when you're done and you can work on something else. Or if your work product is going on to another group to use, how will you know that it is ready for them?

The answer can be really easy, depending on the project, but sometimes it's harder than you think.
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 02-29-2012, 04:59 PM
jharvey963 jharvey963 is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,201
How about, "the completion criteria, including tests, should have been set at the beginning of the project. When the project successfully passes all of the completion tests, the project is done."

J.
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 02-29-2012, 05:04 PM
Lanzy Lanzy is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Orlando
Posts: 3,502
Exit criteria. Simple.
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 02-29-2012, 05:05 PM
ThelmaLou ThelmaLou is offline
Member
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Texas
Posts: 4,853
To the OP: Would he have been your boss? Was this a test of your knowledge of jargon? I hope you didn't get the job. Sounds like you dodged a bullet.

Quote:
Originally Posted by IvoryTowerDenizen View Post
The answer can be really easy, depending on the project, but sometimes it's harder than you think.
Then how would YOU have answered it in that particular interview?

Last edited by ThelmaLou; 02-29-2012 at 05:06 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 02-29-2012, 05:10 PM
Jackmannii Jackmannii is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
"When the five o'clock whistle blows, I'm the f*** out of here."
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 02-29-2012, 05:12 PM
IvoryTowerDenizen IvoryTowerDenizen is offline
Peep Ping Tom
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: North Shore of LI
Posts: 12,845
Quote:
Originally Posted by ThelmaLou View Post
To the OP: Would he have been your boss? Was this a test of your knowledge of jargon? I hope you didn't get the job. Sounds like you dodged a bullet.


Then how would YOU have answered it in that particular interview?
Heh. Beats the eff outta me.

I probably would had said that I would have looked at the outcomes of the project and ensured it met all the requirements and would have considered what the next step was for what I worked on to see if it was in an appropriate form to move on. Or something.

Of course, not know what type of work was being done makes it hard to be anything but vague. Editing copy vs. doing finish work in a manufacturing plant or whatever will have really different answers.

Last edited by IvoryTowerDenizen; 02-29-2012 at 05:12 PM.. Reason: Damn good thing I'm not an editor
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 02-29-2012, 05:12 PM
kaylasdad99 kaylasdad99 is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Sep 1999
Location: Anaheim, CA
Posts: 20,158
OP, what kind of position were you interviewing for?
Reply With Quote
  #21  
Old 02-29-2012, 05:20 PM
Why Child Why Child is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
I'm going to have to learn how to quote multiple people in one post, and snip out the bits I'm not addressing, or this will be ridiculous.
Voyager, I thought it was easy. Once you have accomplished that objective, you are done. That's what I told him, he still wants to know how you know. Please don't use this question if you interview people. Or at least evaluate their first answer and move on. I didn't know it at the time, but I was thinking right along with Candyman.
To some of you, Oh, funny, funny, funny! Thank you for making me laugh. I needed it. I didn't get the job.
To the others, umm, it was a job at a dollar store. Can't be that complicated, really.
Reply With Quote
  #22  
Old 02-29-2012, 05:28 PM
Gary T Gary T is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: KCMO
Posts: 9,358
Quote:
Originally Posted by Why Child View Post
I'm going to have to learn how to quote multiple people in one post, and snip out the bits I'm not addressing, or this will be ridiculous.
The little button with ["+], next to the [quote] button, is the secret to this. Hit the ["+] for each post you're quoting, and then also the [quote] for the last one.

Last edited by Gary T; 02-29-2012 at 05:29 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #23  
Old 02-29-2012, 05:29 PM
TriPolar TriPolar is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: rhode island
Posts: 22,171
Since you're talking about a job at A Dollar Store they may have been looking for a response like: "I know I'm done after I tell my supervisor I'm done, and he doesn't ask me to anything else". Possibly "I know I'm done after I've double checked everything". Probably it's some stupid person's idea of an intelligent question.

Last edited by TriPolar; 02-29-2012 at 05:30 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #24  
Old 02-29-2012, 05:47 PM
Why Child Why Child is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
THANK YOU, GARY T !
Quote:
Originally Posted by ThelmaLou View Post
To the OP: Would he have been your boss? Was this a test of your knowledge of jargon? I hope you didn't get the job. Sounds like you dodged a bullet.
Yes, he would have been my boss. I'm at the point I need to bite the bullet, and take any job offered. If I don't get a job in the next month or three, I'm afraid my boyfriend will make me sleep in the RV out in the yard! That, or I'll have to sell it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TriPolar View Post
Since you're talking about a job at A Dollar Store they may have been looking for a response like: "I know I'm done after I tell my supervisor I'm done, and he doesn't ask me to anything else". Possibly "I know I'm done after I've double checked everything". Probably it's some stupid person's idea of an intelligent question.
I assumed he meant a specific thing, not "Is there anything else I can do?"
Reply With Quote
  #25  
Old 02-29-2012, 05:55 PM
ThelmaLou ThelmaLou is offline
Member
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Texas
Posts: 4,853
Quote:
Originally Posted by Why Child View Post
To the others, umm, it was a job at a dollar store. Can't be that complicated, really.
Thank goodness! I thought it was Chief of Staff for one of the Republican Presidential candidates.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Why Child View Post
[ If I don't get a job in the next month or three, I'm afraid my boyfriend will make me sleep in the RV out in the yard! That, or I'll have to sell it.
You prolly oughta sell it, honey. Or come down here and I'll support you.
__________________
I wept because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no class.

Last edited by ThelmaLou; 02-29-2012 at 05:56 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #26  
Old 02-29-2012, 08:39 PM
Taomist Taomist is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
My first reaction is "I'm probably never done; I'll always be making sure it's still doing what I want it to do, until the day comes I stop worrying about it as I can see it does just fine without me"

Today was my last day at work <yay layoffs!> and even though the day was strictly about paperwork, I still couldn't resist making sure the person taking over knew various things about the desk that had changed recently, etc. Spent most of the day answering her questions, really.

I'd be a terrible project manager, apparantly. I'd always be wondering how it was going, even after I handed it off to the next phase!
Reply With Quote
  #27  
Old 02-29-2012, 10:42 PM
needscoffee needscoffee is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
That has to be the stupidest job interview question I've ever heard. And that's saying a lot.
Reply With Quote
  #28  
Old 02-29-2012, 11:10 PM
Patty O'Furniture Patty O'Furniture is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 1999
This is a good question as it reveals the ability of the candidate to think on his feet. That being said, I wouldn't judge him too harshly if he didn't give the answer I'm hoping for (unless he gave one of those smart-ass answers like "when the 5 o'clock whistle blows". That joker would be outta there toot-sweet).

I agree with others that measuring output against initial objectives/goals plus customer feedback is the answer. But in some cases, you're never done. Some jobs are continuous improvement cycles.
Reply With Quote
  #29  
Old 02-29-2012, 11:12 PM
TriPolar TriPolar is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: rhode island
Posts: 22,171
Quote:
Originally Posted by Why Child View Post
I assumed he meant a specific thing, not "Is there anything else I can do?"
Well you never know. I think needscoffee has this pegged right.

Quote:
Originally Posted by needscoffee View Post
That has to be the stupidest job interview question I've ever heard. And that's saying a lot.
Reply With Quote
  #30  
Old 02-29-2012, 11:18 PM
AHunter3 AHunter3 is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: NY (Manhattan) NY USA
Posts: 16,126
"When you set out to do something, how do you know when you’re done?”

"When it no longer needs doing, when it's completed"

"But I mean when do you KNOW that you've reached that point, that you're done?"

"Let me give you an example. Answering this question that you have posed, about how I know when a task is done, OK? Well: We are done here. Take my word for that. Let's move on now, shall we?"
Reply With Quote
  #31  
Old 02-29-2012, 11:19 PM
Patty O'Furniture Patty O'Furniture is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 1999
Quote:
Originally Posted by needscoffee View Post
That has to be the stupidest job interview question I've ever heard. And that's saying a lot.
It's OK to think that, but then you might not be the best candidate for certain kinds of jobs. But for a job at a dollar store? Hardly. The interviewer probably saw the question on some job interview site and felt pleased with himself for asking it during the interview.
Reply With Quote
  #32  
Old 02-29-2012, 11:21 PM
Patty O'Furniture Patty O'Furniture is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 1999
Quote:
Originally Posted by AHunter3 View Post
"When you set out to do something, how do you know when you’re done?”

"When it no longer needs doing, when it's completed"

"But I mean when do you KNOW that you've reached that point, that you're done?"

"Let me give you an example. Answering this question that you have posed, about how I know when a task is done, OK? Well: We are done here. Take my word for that. Let's move on now, shall we?"
Thanks, we'll be in touch.
Reply With Quote
  #33  
Old 02-29-2012, 11:24 PM
Jake Jones Jake Jones is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2009
Quote:
Originally Posted by needscoffee View Post
That has to be the stupidest job interview question I've ever heard. And that's saying a lot.
I disagree. I think it's a pretty good question and I'm glad that I read this thread, because I don't think I would have answered it very well before reading the replies here.

I also think it was fair that the OP requested an example of a goal, and I think that ducking that request was an unfair move by the interviewer. In fact, I think the completely correct answer to this question is "It depends on the goal." Which is pretty much a more assertive way of asking for an example.

If my goal is to have fifty thousand US dollars in my bank account by the end of the year, there's really not much to discuss. Come midnight on December 31, my success or failure is pretty self-evident. If my goal is to create a spreadsheet to record current inventory throughput and analyze historical sales data with the objective of forecasting future purchasing requirements, well? I'm in the wrong interview, aren't I?

It is a bit highbrow for a retail position at the Dollar Store. That much, I think we can all agree on.

Last edited by Jake Jones; 02-29-2012 at 11:29 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #34  
Old 02-29-2012, 11:42 PM
Yllaria Yllaria is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Stockton
Posts: 7,640
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary T View Post
The little button with ["+], next to the [ quote ] button, is the secret to this. Hit the ["+] for each post you're quoting, and then also the [ quote ] for the last one.
You can also hit the [post reply] at the end, if you don't want to quote the last entry.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Why Child View Post
. . . , it was a job at a dollar store. Can't be that complicated, really.
Yeah. I can't imagine much at a dollar store that would be a judgement call. Except maybe deciding when it's time to refer a complaining customer to the boss because they're just not hearing it from you.

For our projects, the job is over when the paperwork is done, including recording the notice of completion with the county, acceptances of final reports to the funding agencies, final payments to contractors, closing accounts and purchase orders, holding an internal "lessons learned" meeting, assembling the project files into properly labeled binders, and storing them with an order to maintain them in archive for at least 5 (or 7 or 10) years. If you forget to include an electronic version of the as-built drawings, you will be cursed decades later by those who come after you. Oh, I forgot that they've added a closure memo for the big bosses.

So I can see asking if you know how to close out a project, in some cases. But "how do you know when you're done?" just sounds odd. Maybe the answer is "I get a warm glow, starting right in my solar plexus. Although beans will sometimes give me a false positive."

Last edited by Yllaria; 02-29-2012 at 11:43 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #35  
Old 03-01-2012, 12:16 AM
simster simster is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
- nm -

Last edited by simster; 03-01-2012 at 12:16 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #36  
Old 03-01-2012, 12:26 AM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Western New York
Posts: 55,138
Quote:
Originally Posted by IvoryTowerDenizen View Post
It's actually a decent question. My students will say "but I studied so much for this test" when they do poorly and I will ask them how they know they studied enough, or how they know when the paper is ready to be turned it etc. It often stumps them- they've thought to have a way, beyond hours spent on task, to know when the project is done.

For an employee, well you're not a student, but it's still a good question. If you have 20 different things going on, how will know when you're done and you can work on something else. Or if your work product is going on to another group to use, how will you know that it is ready for them?

The answer can be really easy, depending on the project, but sometimes it's harder than you think.
The problem you're encountering is people who don't know what it is they're trying to do. They've confused the process with the goal. Studying the material isn't the goal. Passing the test is the goal. Studying the material is a means towards achieving that goal. But if they find that studying isn't helping them pass the test, then they need to rethink what they're doing.
Reply With Quote
  #37  
Old 03-01-2012, 12:33 AM
Jake Jones Jake Jones is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2009
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yllaria View Post
So I can see asking if you know how to close out a project, in some cases. But "how do you know when you're done?" just sounds odd.
It is an odd question, but it's not the same question as "how do you close a project?" The question is, how do you know when to close a project? It's not a bad question. It's impossible to answer without knowing the details of the project, which is why I said that ducking out of providing an example was poor form by the interviewer. I maintain that it's a good question, but that the interviewer failed when they told the OP it could be anything.

"It's done when it's done" isn't a good enough answer, but refusing to give an example when asked is a case of poor interviewing. It was a case of refusing to acknowledge that sometimes the answer to a question must be a question. For some questions, the correct answer is always a question or a statement that demands a more accurate question, which again, is pretty much a more assertive way of questioning.

Honestly, my hunch is that this is an example of management training; half-understood and poorly executed by a hiring manager. Someone copying down good interview questions during an 8 hour seminar without learning why they should be asked or what they could learn from them.
Reply With Quote
  #38  
Old 03-01-2012, 12:56 AM
Isamu Isamu is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
When I'm tired, or it gets too hard, I know I'm done.
Reply With Quote
  #39  
Old 03-01-2012, 01:17 AM
Voyager Voyager is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Deep Space
Posts: 33,470
Quote:
Originally Posted by Why Child View Post
I'm going to have to learn how to quote multiple people in one post, and snip out the bits I'm not addressing, or this will be ridiculous.
Voyager, I thought it was easy. Once you have accomplished that objective, you are done. That's what I told him, he still wants to know how you know. Please don't use this question if you interview people. Or at least evaluate their first answer and move on. I didn't know it at the time, but I was thinking right along with Candyman.
To some of you, Oh, funny, funny, funny! Thank you for making me laugh. I needed it. I didn't get the job.
To the others, umm, it was a job at a dollar store. Can't be that complicated, really.
I was about to say something about measurable objectives - but a job at a dollar store? Just as likely the answer he was looking for was when he said it was done.

I'm beginning to think you are a lot smarter than this guy.
Reply With Quote
  #40  
Old 03-01-2012, 01:20 AM
Voyager Voyager is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Deep Space
Posts: 33,470
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yllaria View Post

So I can see asking if you know how to close out a project, in some cases.
That's not so easy. I was on a committee once developing a process to figure out when to give more money to a project and when to stop it. We had a problem in that our internal customers gave us money for researchy projects, and if they clearly were not going to work it was very, very hard for managers to admit it and give the money back - even when the scientists working on it told them there was no hope. Someone managed to use our process to kill a zombie project, which made us feel really good.
Reply With Quote
  #41  
Old 03-01-2012, 04:48 AM
Nava Nava is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Quote:
Originally Posted by filmore View Post
I'm guessing he was looking for an answer like, "I know I'm done with the project when the customer for the project has approved it."
So what about tasks where you don't get direct approval from the people who ordered it?

I'm thinking of when I was a QC lab tech. I knew that the pHmeter was done hbecause it beeped. I knew the solids were ready to be weighed because the timer pinged. I knew the gels needed to go into the oven because there was no more liquid in the pot of sample. I knew the results were ready to be told to the shift supervisor because every single inspection in the list had a result penned beside it. He didn't approve or reject my results, the results were what they were. In any case, it was me who told him whether he needed to add more water or filter the product further... and in a weekend or night shift, the people who had told us when to do either weren't available to pat heads.

Last edited by Nava; 03-01-2012 at 04:49 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #42  
Old 03-01-2012, 05:08 AM
IvoryTowerDenizen IvoryTowerDenizen is offline
Peep Ping Tom
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: North Shore of LI
Posts: 12,845
Quote:
Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
The problem you're encountering is people who don't know what it is they're trying to do. They've confused the process with the goal. Studying the material isn't the goal. Passing the test is the goal. Studying the material is a means towards achieving that goal. But if they find that studying isn't helping them pass the test, then they need to rethink what they're doing.
That's exactly right. But the students don't always see it. The equate time on task (studying) with completing the goal (learning the material). So I have these conversations with students who aren't doing well and their first reaction is "I should've done well, I studied".
Reply With Quote
  #43  
Old 03-01-2012, 05:26 AM
Nava Nava is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
IME, many of the ones who "study" a lot are also confusing "looking at the page" with "studying". They're the ones who read classnotes, schematics, etc. again and again, but they may even be reading other people's notes and they never prepare their own "Notes", it's always that guy Cliff. That may eventually make them able to parrot part of the material, but if the coursework needs any actual comprehension they're screwed.

Last edited by Nava; 03-01-2012 at 05:27 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #44  
Old 03-01-2012, 05:46 AM
IvoryTowerDenizen IvoryTowerDenizen is offline
Peep Ping Tom
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: North Shore of LI
Posts: 12,845
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nava View Post
IME, many of the ones who "study" a lot are also confusing "looking at the page" with "studying". They're the ones who read classnotes, schematics, etc. again and again, but they may even be reading other people's notes and they never prepare their own "Notes", it's always that guy Cliff. That may eventually make them able to parrot part of the material, but if the coursework needs any actual comprehension they're screwed.
Again, that's absolutely right. One skill many students need to learn at the college level is actually how to study. Many either never learned it in HS, or could squeak by, but college level material requires more effort.

But if I can get them to at least challenge the idea that time studying is the only measure of studying that counts, it's a step in the right direction.
Reply With Quote
  #45  
Old 03-01-2012, 06:00 AM
Antigen Antigen is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: was Montreal, now MD
Posts: 7,071
Quote:
Originally Posted by Voyager View Post
I was about to say something about measurable objectives - but a job at a dollar store? Just as likely the answer he was looking for was when he said it was done.
Yeah, lots of places are very excited about "SMART" goals and putting them into the employee evaluation/review process, so when I read the OP it's the first thing I thought about. Your goals need to be: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely, and if you're not able to measure your success, then your goal needs tweaking. According to these guys, anyway. Maybe the guy wanted to hear about how you set goals and measure your progress, but I don't really see why a dollar store job interview needs to get all fancy-pants on you, unless it was a higher position within the company. If it's basic retail, I'd say we have a case of a manager wanting to sound smart.
Reply With Quote
  #46  
Old 03-01-2012, 06:04 AM
IvoryTowerDenizen IvoryTowerDenizen is offline
Peep Ping Tom
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: North Shore of LI
Posts: 12,845
It could also be that the manager was burned by some employees that did work half-assed and left tasks undone. Something like taking inventory that does have a concrete completion point, but many steps to stay on top of. And really just wanted to be sure the next employee knew how to finish a job and not trail off when he got 9/10th done.

Last edited by IvoryTowerDenizen; 03-01-2012 at 06:05 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #47  
Old 03-01-2012, 07:23 AM
don't ask don't ask is offline
Member
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Sydney, Australia
Posts: 15,882
After the cumshot?
Reply With Quote
  #48  
Old 03-01-2012, 07:51 AM
Sigmagirl Sigmagirl is offline
Go Tribe!
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Western Reserve
Posts: 8,107
When the cash register balances and all troublesome customers have been escorted to the door, and said door is locked for the day.
Reply With Quote
  #49  
Old 03-01-2012, 08:15 AM
Yllaria Yllaria is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Stockton
Posts: 7,640
Quote:
Originally Posted by Voyager View Post
That's not so easy. I was on a committee once developing a process to figure out when to give more money to a project and when to stop it. We had a problem in that our internal customers gave us money for researchy projects, and if they clearly were not going to work it was very, very hard for managers to admit it and give the money back - even when the scientists working on it told them there was no hope. Someone managed to use our process to kill a zombie project, which made us feel really good.
True. I'm still having trouble applying the question to a dollar store.

Quote:
Originally Posted by IvoryTowerDenizen View Post
It could also be that the manager was burned by some employees that did work half-assed and left tasks undone. Something like taking inventory that does have a concrete completion point, but many steps to stay on top of. And really just wanted to be sure the next employee knew how to finish a job and not trail off when he got 9/10th done.
Or, to take the opposite tack, he may have been burned by employees who had reached the point of diminishing returns and still wanted to take another two hours to get that floor just 1/10 cleaner and brighter when there were six more things on the store closing checklist and they were into overtime already. The wording is still odd. Especially when he couldn't give an example.

I suspect Jake Jones is right and this is a case of poor note taking at a seminar or from an article.
Reply With Quote
  #50  
Old 03-01-2012, 08:24 AM
ThelmaLou ThelmaLou is offline
Member
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Texas
Posts: 4,853
Here's the thing:

It's not that the question itself was bad.

It's that after the OP answered the question, instead of engaging in a discussion/conversation, the interviewer simply REPEATED THE QUESTION like a big robot-dufus. What the f8ck was up with that? I'll tell you what: it was a deliberate attempt to make the OP feel stupid and inadequate to see how she would behave when flustered and challenged. To which I say, "I don't want to work for someone who treats a total stranger that way."

That's why I said the OP dodged a bullet in not getting the job. To work for someone who would ask a question-- any question-- and then not accept your good faith answer as a starting point for a conversation, and instead would simply repeat back the question without any reaction to or comment on your answer would likely be a big PITA to work for. And ANY job is good/bad tolerable/intolerable mostly because of your boss.

In ThelmaLou's World, when you interview for a job, if you have the good fortune to be interviewed by the person who would be your boss, YOU are interviewing THEM to see if THEY measure up to your standards for being a boss. If this person isn't even supportive, cordial, cooperative, respectful, and intelligent during the interview, how will s/he be day in and day out?

I realize that if you "really need this job" (cf. A Chorus Line), you may have to compromise your standards. So be it. But know what you're doing. Going into an interview with this mindset will keep you from looking like a supplicant or trained monkey working for applause and peanuts and remind you that YOU are offering something of value and expect it to BE valued.
__________________
I wept because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no class.

Last edited by ThelmaLou; 03-01-2012 at 08:24 AM..
Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 09:29 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright © 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.