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The data don't lie

Today we finished interviewing for a vacant position in my group. I have a slot for a network engineer, and after a long, plodding process, was presented by City Personnel with a list of three candidates to choose from. Two men and a woman, all white, aged 30, 43, and 35. (I always thought that asking for D.O.B. on a job application was asking for a lawsuit, but evidently this is just one more way that things are different in the City.) I rounded up two other folks for my interview panel, and between Friday afternoon and this afternoon we met with all three of them.

Silly me, I thought that once I got through running the interviews the stressful part would be over. Not the case. Now I have the even harder task of choosing someone to hire. Thankfully, of the three there are two worthwhile candidates. I used a two-part interview: the first part was a series of nine questions ranging from experience to technical to interpersonal. The second part was a more open conversation. We scored on a 0-5 scale on each question, and then a separate "overall" score. This yielded ten scores per candidate times three panelists. I chose to weight the overall as 2x and all the others as 1x. I keyed the scores into a spreadsheet and looked at the results. Then I created another view, and then I created yet another view.

I stopped when I realized that what I was doing was searching for a way to slice the data to give the woman a break. I generally liked Ms. K, but the data support hiring Mr. F. (Thankfully, the data do not support hiring Mr. O., the eldest of the lot, and a former big telco lab manager -- as my male panelist put it "I just can't see him up on a ladder screwing a wireless access point to the wall") I seem to have a strong desire to have a woman on my team. Perhaps it's because one of the most successful members of my old crew was a grrl (she was the other panelist for these interviews). Perhaps... I dunno. My internal monitor finds this odd particularly in light of my reaction to talking to Ms. K. for the first time on the phone: oh god, I can't work with that voice.

But, no matter how I sliced it, Mr. F came out at the top, Mr. O (thankfully) at the bottom. The difference was where in the middle Ms. K fell. So, in the tradition of decision makers everywhere, I'm going to sleep on it.

Though, I won't be sleeping on it for long, as I have to be up at five AM tomorrow to leave for a trip to NYC: my boss, a coworker, and I are going to meet New York's CIO and his team to talk about homeland security, disaster recovery, 311, and such. Ask me how pleased I am to be going into New York by train two weeks to the day before the election. Hello! Madrid bombing redux? Now that's paranoia. I suppose true paranoia would be not going to New York. So, paranoia or not, I'm going to be hopping Metro North in New Haven at 7:15 tomorrow.

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