A friend of mine from graduate school recently asked if she could use me as a reference on her resume.
I've worked with her on a couple of projects, and she was definitely one of the top few people I'd
worked with, so I was more than happy to say yes.
Most of the questions were straightforward and easy to answer. However, one of the potential questions
seemed way off-base: I may be asked to "review her multi-tasking ability."
Is that a trick question? Is it relevant?
Of course I want to paint her in the best possible light, and in that regard, I'm unsure how to answer such
a question. Why? To understand that, we need to ask
What's the question they're really asking?
There are two disparate pieces of knowledge they can hope to glean from my answer to that question:
Is "multitasking ability" just code for unable to accomplish anything because you require employees
to work on so many different projects in parallel that progress cannot be made on any of them?
- Does she concentrate on a single item well enough to finish it?
In this case, they are asking the opposite of what they want to find out. The trick relies on the reviewer to give
an honest opinion, whereas most people would assume they should answer each question in the affirmative. Because
the rest of the questions seem straightforward, I'd give this potential "real question" a low
probability of being what they really want to know.
Is the candidate able to juggle multiple different projects and work effectively?
I give this one the higher probability of being the question the employer really wants the
answer to. But it's a ridiculous question. On the one hand, you already know the job candidate has
successfully completed two levels of college, so it should be clear that they can handle multiple different
projects given the appropriate resources. On the other hand, I don't think they care about the
"appropriate resources" part. I think they're setting their employees up to fail because they
don't understand that
Multitasking can result in time wasted due to human context switching and apparently causing more errors due to insufficient attention.
What's your opinion?
John G. Miller (or someone claiming to be him) is author of a book and has asserted trademark rights to a phrase originally used in this article, so I've removed it.
Hey! Why don't you make your life easier and subscribe to the full post
or short blurb RSS feed? I'm so confident you'll love my smelly pasta plate
wisdom that I'm offering a no-strings-attached, lifetime money back guarantee!
Leave a comment
There are no comments for this entry yet.
Leave a comment