Astghik (Ach) Petrosyan

Technical Recruiter, meettal

1. Who was your favourite teacher at school? What did you learn from that person?

Oh, my maths teacher. I adored her since she was the smartest around. Her surname was Deghoyan (translates from Armenian as medicine), she looked very strict with an unexpectedly charming smile and some out of blue jokes. Later on I learned she was actually Applied Mathematician, not exactly a teacher. I loved her because of the math and vice versa. The most important lesson I got from here is that opinions do not matter in science. I didn’t know the word science back then, it was “opinions do not matter in maths” at first.

2. At what age did you become an adult? What happened, and how did you know?

Well, answering this as I wonder if one ever is fully adult? Sometimes the childish sparks of interest are what keeps me assured I’m moving in the right direction. Anyways, I consider I wasn’t an adult until I started living on my own a couple of years ago, it will be around age 23. Life changing experience in a very boring way 😀 Got to learn the dishes won’t wash themselves and taking care of life is a full-time job itself. But hey, with great responsibility comes great freedom!

3. What habit or behaviour or belief have you recently acquired? Why is it now in your life?

Talk less whenever I can. I’m very talkative, sometimes the dose of my excited chatter can go beyond the expectation (though I keep telling myself people see value in me talking :D). I recently noticed that sometimes you can say more or speak impactful by taking unplanned pauses.

4. Name a well-known person you admire and explain why you hold them high esteem?

Daniel Kahneman. I admire his curiosity towards how the human psyche works, creativity to perform easy yet mind blowing experiments and as a psychologist deep inside I’m proud he is the first psychologist to get the Nobel prize. Way to go, psychology as science is extremely important, we should celebrate it more! Also, Oliver Burkeman. I have subscribed to the Imperfectionist recently and it is indeed time management for mortals, considering all the shortcomings we have as human beings. Pretty humbling I’d say. Can I name another one? Susan Sontag being the brave icon she is.

5. What’s one misconception people generally have about you?

People think my technical knowledge is inborn or untrainable when it is simply curiosity matched with the stubbornness to understand every single word in a sentence rich with technical context. Honestly, I figured as a tech recruiter you never have to go further than Wikipedia intro section or basic About pages. What is hard is you need to really and fundamentally understand them as opposed to approximately understanding. My method is going down the rabbit hole: you see a word you can’t properly explain to yourself and others you go look up the explanation for that one, if you happen to see unknown words in that explanation too you google them as well and so on until you hit the ground you fully understand and start the journey back to the initial question. Can challenge your browser with a lot of open tabs and is totally worth the effort!

6. What personality trait has got you in the most trouble? What kind of trouble does it get you in?

Being extra honest. I know, I know that sounds like a boring “what is your weakness” answer but I do really mean it. Sometimes I’m uncontrollably honest and suggest sharing the feedback that wasn’t supposed to be thought of in the first place. I have noticed with the feedback worshiping society nobody ever rejects feedback even when they are not ready for it. It got me into trouble of explaining my feedback over and over again being stuck in a deadlock of neither accepting nor letting it go. Also, people may think I am too harsh or judgemental because of this.

7. In current industry conversation, what is an example of ‘making a mountain out of a molehill’?

Oh, that will be automation. A lot of industries get things automated, that is very natural, not expecting this will be foolish and against progress. In recruitment for some reason we have too much conversation on automation and too little action (e.g. minimal automation in ATS is still luxury). Automation won’t kill out recruiters or sourcers as a profession. Quite the opposite, done right it will help us concentrate on important things. Here, I talk about it again. 😀

8. What do you think is acceptable today but will become taboo tomorrow?

Leaving a candidate without the negative response. There has been a poster in Poland feminist rally against ban of abortion saying “I can’t believe I still have to protest this fucking shit”. Relatable and to the point here as well! (Hung, can I use words like that? :D)

9. What app or tech product have you most recently fallen in love with?

I keep falling in love with Telegram. The product design, being partially open source, political stance of the company, monetization policy, ongoing improvements. Just adorable 🙂 I’m typically against monopolization, but can Telegram be the instant messaging experience on all platforms?

10. What is the best purchase you’ve made recently? Why?

It’s been a gift 🙂 A JBL speaker. Sharing love for quality sound and music is among the best things in my life!

11. If you were to survive the zombie apocalypse, what role would you play in the new society that would follow?

Philosopher-educator. I imagine lack of resources will make society go wild and I would love to be the person bringing ideas that shape humanity to the new society. I dare to think I will be able to do that.

12. Aside from family & friends, if you could invite any 3 people - living or dead - to your final dinner party before the end of the world, who would they be and why?

Well, like anyone? I will bring along Slavoj Zizek to keep the edgy atmosphere, importance of the moment but also the playful and philosophical mood. Meryl Streep for jokes and the last bottle of champagne. Clancy (from Midnight Gospel), he will take us to another universe and if we won’t get there, it will be a really interesting final trip to have.

13. What’s the best piece of professional advice you’ve ever received? Who gave it and when?

It happened not in recruitment. I was told that I ask for feedback but get defensive when it is shared (think argue and share excuses instead of listening). It helped me start seeing how I think I listen but in fact I do not. I was experimentally running therapeutic group sessions and this was shared by my co-therapist. Thanks, Lidia! Now I got into the habit of catching my thoughts starting with “but” and muting those, instead I focus on follow-up questions to hear the whole feedback and decide later on if that is actionable/valuable for me.

14. Can you give an example of a time when you had to learn the lesson the hard way?

As one of the core organizers of one of the biggest tech events in Yerevan I was responsible for communication with the general sponsor, they were giving like 40%+ of the overall budget. One year we had decided to require slides from everyone to improve quality and general sponsor top management was to have a short kind of promotional talk. As a strong believer policy concerns everyone I got very upset when an assistant said they will not share slides prior to the event. Now, I have a very inconvenient habit of drafting my thoughts as a way of cooling down and I accidentally sent this reply draft to the partner’s top management. Fortunately, my wording was not a total disaster and after negotiations and help from my co-organizer we received the slides and now I have the 30 seconds unsend option activated on all my mail accounts. Saved me not once!

15. What role do you find yourself playing when you join a newly formed team? Can you explain why this happens?

Mystery to this day, but nearly any group I’m in starts to consider my thoughts as expert opinion. Though flattering, it can be misleading and I try to fight that by adding way more IMHO’s than I’d prefer to. I’m not sure why this happens, maybe I have a very confident voice or maybe the reason is glasses? Not sure.

16. What hiring heuristic do you generally go with?

Enthusiasm and motivation over skills. I have seen a lot of cases when motivation and driven attitude is the key to creating value and making projects a success. And skills that never get exercised are a key to missed deadlines and failures.

17. When it comes to our work and industry: what scares you most?

The amount of invisible work recruiters do. I call it the reversed triangle of effort in recruitment. A lot of partners and employers do not see all the volume of effort going into sourcing, communication, rejection, etc. It peaks only in 1 placement which is the ultimate visible metric. I guess this is why sometimes recruitment is considered an effortless profession and a lot of recruiters end up being overloaded with work and struggle having a healthy work-life balance.

18. What’s one industry challenge you don’t actually think will ever get solved?

Total transparency with candidates. About decision reasoning, process, feedback, etc. Too many conflicting interests, too much hassle. I will be happy to be proven wrong in the future.

19. If you could add a question to this selection for the next person to answer, what would it be?

Describe the fairest hiring decision making process you actually saw implemented.

20. Who would you recommend to do the next 20 Questions With … ?

Tris Revill. He seems to have very funny and honest stories 🙂

Thank you to Ach Petrosyan for taking 20 Questions for The Brainfood Tribune. Make sure to follow Ach on LinkedIn

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