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The New Job Paradigm: The Interview Process

I have been self-employed or employed by Electronic Data Systems/Hewlett Packard/Hewlett Packard Enterprise (EDS/HP/HPE) for the past 20 years, so I've really been out of the traditional job market interview game for some time. However, two months ago, I found myself needing to update my résumé to find a new job. Since that time, I've had multiple interviews and have discovered that the world has changed – and perhaps for the better this time. It's true. The task of obtaining new employment has changed dramatically since 2000, when I joined EDS. I took no tests. I only had two interviews. I was hired and started my job within a week of the second interview. Yes, even a big company can move fast when the right people have a need and know how to get things done. It's 2016 now, and oh how times have changed.

The new interview process is quite interesting. When interviewing for a technical position, such as a system administrator, you don't simply rehash your job history or discuss your successful projects; you're put through a series of screening interviews.

The first interview consists of some very pointed questions about who you are as a technologist – meaning that you're asked to solve a problem interactively or answer a series of questions that you can't solve by googling. Unfortunate for some, because most of us these days rely on our trusty browser to be our second brain. Your talent as a searcher is almost as valuable as your ability to produce a solution. If you're a Google Monkey, as I used to lovingly refer to those who had no real skills, but who typed every question into Google instead, you don't stand a chance in today's job screening process. In fact, if you can't answer those screening questions accurately, your progress in the job-seeking process ends abruptly with that particular position.

You'd think that being a technology master would also lasso jobs by the dozen for you, but you'd be wrong. You're also expected to get along with people. Yep, that's right, my friend, you're expected to interact intelligently and graciously with other humans. No longer can a tech "guru" hide in the data center or in a very messy cubicle and never come in contact with coworkers. Those days have passed. But those so-called soft skills don't end with being able to discuss last night's game with your buddies in the breakroom, you need to prepare to mentor junior-level workers and to interact appropriately with customers.

To you Millennials who read this, this information might make you yawn, but the Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, and Gen Yers might need to clean their reading glasses and reread the preceding paragraphs for confirmation. Times have changed. And we've all heard that if you can't change, you get left behind. No truer words were ever spoken or written about today's job market. Although I wasn't 100 percent prepared for the new job paradigm myself, I now embrace it. I'm happy that unqualified applicants can't schmooze or fake their ways through interviews to score awesome gigs. I'm glad that they have to think, to perform, to communicate, and to demonstrate their chops. I've been lucky to have avoided the pigeonholes that so many of my contemporaries have not. I've always done everything. I've never uttered the phrase, "That's not my job." I've always wanted to learn more, do more, and achieve more in every position I've held. It has paid off. And I hope by the time you read this, I'll be employed again and I'll be part of the new job paradigm.

Ken Hess * ADMIN Senior Editor