In the past few weeks I have seen a plethora of blog entries on interviewing, questions to ask a candidate, questions to ask the company, how to make yourself more desirable, etc. Essentially the SQL blogsphere is awash with professional development tips, and that includes some of my own entries. So, what would it hurt to have one more, right?

Do you want to get hired as a DBA? Actually, do you want to get hired as, well, anything? Let me make it as simple as possible for you to get your next job. The first thing you must understand is to be yourself. Never misrepresent yourself in any way, just act naturally, tell the truth about yourself, and meet as many potential employers as possible. Yes, as I have said before, it really is like dating, except fewer chances at having sex once the interview (date) is over with.

So, you are looking for work, you present an honest picure of yourself to all potential suitors, but what will put you over the top? Asking questions of the potential employer is crucial, but let’s focus on the questions that are going to help you drill down into what they are truly looking for.

Employers have a need to fill

Simple enough, right? You would not be having the interview if it was not for the fact that they have a hole in their lineup that needs to be filled. But who, exactly, are they looking for? Well, that is up to you to find out. And if you do find out, then you have the opportunity to present yourself as the ideal candidate (remember, always be honest, failure to do so will not be good for either party).

So the employer needs someone to do something. Find out what that something is by asking questions. Simple questions work best such as “Tell me more about this project, what would my role be?”. That one question should lead to many others that help you to define their needs. But you still need some additional information; information that I am going to tell you now.

Four Development Levels

In every project there are tasks. No matter what the project, or the task, you personally will fall into one of four possible development categories. This is true for everyone on Earth, no exceptions. Interns, new hires, seasoned veterans, executive officers….it does not matter. You will always fall into one of the following four levels for any given task in your professional career.

I am going to keep the labels simple for now, we will use D1, D2, D3, and D4.

  • D1: people at this level have lower competence and high commitment levels
  • D2: people at this level have low to mid-level competence and lower commitment levels
  • D3: people at this level have moderate to high competence and variable commitment levels
  • D4: people at this level have high competence and high commitment levels

Stop and think about these four levels for a moment. Now, think about distinct tasks you have taken on at various times over the past few years. Have you always known everything (high competence), or have you been asked to take something on that you knew nothing about (low competence)? I know I have been asked to learn a lot of new things ever since I became a DBA and when you are learning something new it is rare to say you are already at a high competence.

Now think abut your commitment levels. There are going to be times when you can do a job but not be too excited about it. I am sure if you reflect upon your own careers you will find plenty of examples where you fell into one of the four development levels. And remember, we are talking about tasks within projects. We are not talking about the person as a whole, just the person assigned to a specific task.

The Secret

Remember how you asked the potential employer details about the project they need you to work on? Yeah, that is where you assess what type of development level they need. See, they already have a team in place (most likely). They probably already have some mixture of development levels on board. So you need to find out what level they need you to be for whatever task(s) they have in mind for you.

And this is where you need to be honest. Honest with yourself and honest with the employer. Either you can fit into the development level they need, or you cannot. Do not pretend to be something you are not. And do not convince yourself that you can just do the job in order to pass time until something better comes along. You have come to the interview to assess where they have a gap, and then you need to assess yourself to see if you can fill that gap.

If you are doing the hiring, you are looking to fill that gap, and you need to assess what development level they are at for the tasks you have in mind. It is most definitely a joint effort for both parties to figure out if they can form a long term relationship. And no, trying to convince them that they really need you, no matter what, is not necessarily the best course of action.


Next, I will discuss the four different type of leadership styles and how they are also important in the hiring dating process.