Stand up

Steve Jobs discusses hiring people, in an interview for In the Company of Giants (via the Steve Jobs archive):

Over time, my digging in during an interview gets more precise. For example, many times in an interview I will purposely upset someone: I’ll criticize their prior work. I’ll do my homework, find out what they worked on and say, “God, that really turned out to be a bomb. That really turned out to be a bozo product. Why did you work on that?” I shouldn’t say this in your book, but the worst thing that someone can do in an interview is to agree with me and knuckle under.

What I look for is for someone to come right back and say, “You’re dead wrong and here’s why.” I want to see what people are like under pressure. I want to see if they just fold or if they have firm conviction, belief, and pride in what they did. It’s also good every once in a while to really piss somebody off in an interview to see how they react because, if your company is a meritocracy of ideas, with passionate people, you have a company with a lot of arguments. If people can’t stand up and argue well under pressure, they may not do well in such an environment.

While you may dislike the push of confrontations, it’s worth getting into the practice of pushing back. You’re not just standing up for yourself; you’re standing up for the work, for the ideas, and for what you learned. You don’t need to be stubborn or unfriendly about it, but you do need to appreciate your past efforts and lessons. 

Do your best, accept that you did your best, learn how you can keep doing better (because best is an asymptote), and know that you deserve more opportunities. There’s no need to feel ashamed of your work.

Reality has a tendency to test you and your conviction. How you respond is up to you.

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