Interview question - business wanting something stupid Interview question - business wanting something stupid
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  1. #1

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    Default Interview question - business wanting something stupid

    I had an interview with IT in a financial institution.

    The question was what would you do if senior management from business wanted something done that was stupid. The wording was a bit more diplomatic but that was the gist.

    Having recently left the permie world, my response was "now, this is why I like contracting". It made them laugh, but I didn't get the role.

    How should I have responded? To actually get the role, I mean.

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    I'd diplomatically point out it was stupid, but so long as it wasn't actually immoral, if it came between taking the money and running, and losing the contract, I for one could do with the exercise.
    <-2 5m->

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    If you're an Electrician, a Car mechanic or an IT developer, you would be expected to refuse to do anything that is evidently "stupid" simply because you were asked to do it.

    Anyway you'll know for next time.
    I'm alright Jack

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    Quote Originally Posted by BlasterBates View Post
    If you're an Electrician, a Car mechanic....
    .
    No, you'd be expected to refuse to do anything dangerous. I don't imagine I'd have any problems finding a sparky to rewire my freshly rewired house, put three way light switches in each room and whatever else I came up with. Just like I wouldn't struggle to get a mechanic to replace my brand new tyres, needlessly do the cambelt and Chuck a new clutch in for fun. Why wouldn't they? I want it done, it's my money.

    If it's going to cause issues for your own reputation, is of questionable legality or whatever then of course that's a different discussion. And I think we all have a moral duty to speak in and explain why something isn't advisable. But fundamentally, if I'm billing then I'm there to help the customer achieve their goals, not mine.

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    Sometimes you do need to save the client from themselves but how you achieve while allowing them to save face is a delicate operation.

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    Mostly you do what the client wants doing- within the bounds of your contract, of course. But I have been known to refuse to code something that left a gaping hole in the site security, to approve a change that allowed a senior user to use unsecured wifi access to a SC-level system and advised the client to walk away from a £20m tender proposal since the required solution was unachievable.

    You can advise against anything, provided you can explain exactly why it's a bad idea. You can refuse to do anything that blows your professional standards or exceeds your contracted area of work. But ultimately, if the client wants to be a total dick about something, then go along with it and take the money but make sure it's in writing!
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    If it is illegal/immoral/fattening - you reasonably refuse on those grounds and if possible suggest an alternative.

    You identify the end result they need/want. (they truly aren't the same).

    You plot the journey that their idea would create and explain the potholes. Where you can suggest workarounds that gets them to their desired destination safely.
    "If you didn't do anything that wasn't good for you it would be a very dull life. What are you gonna do? Everything that is pleasant in life is dangerous."

    I want to see the hand of history on his collar.

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    Quote Originally Posted by vwdan View Post
    No, you'd be expected to refuse to do anything dangerous.
    That is what they probably mean. I suspect the question is with regard to bypassing risk controls, which is what sometimes happens in banks.

    That is something you shouldn't touch with a barge pole.
    I'm alright Jack

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    You can say that you'd have a private chat with the person to make sure that what is required is fully understood.
    If s/he would still want you to go forward with it you'd say you are more than happy to do it but that piece of work might come with a disclaimer at the end so other people finding it do not misinterpret it's use.
    You complete it to a high standard, take more time than necessary, then make sure the disclaimer is discrete but findable.
    If s/he is still not happy and says that you are avoiding responsibility for your work then you can continue with: If s/he feels that your performance is not up to standard then you'd be happy to have the terms of the agreement reviewed.
    If s/he actually goes for it and makes a case out of that assignment, feel free to terminate your agreement, let them know you'd still engage them but with the revised rate that they won't accept, so now you can be refused. Sometimes life is too short.

    As a contractor you should be able to refuse work but that is never perceived well.
    For that particular discussion you should probably stop after the disclaimer part.
    There are probably plenty of situations out there when bosses have bullied their employees into submission and made sure there is not paper trail for it, and this is probably one of it: Boeing’s 737 Max Software Outsourced to $9-an-Hour Engineers - Bloomberg

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    Quote Originally Posted by malvolio View Post
    ultimately, if the client wants to be a total dick about something, then go along with it and take the money
    I doubt you would pass the interview if you actually were to say that.
    I'm alright Jack

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