Friday, July 06, 2007

The sound of people chasing money, and money getting away

Well, since the resume posts seem to be quite popular, and since I am nothing but a whore for your attention, I figured we'd move to the next logical phase in the process...


I never really thought I'd get to a point in my life where I'd be conducting interviews, but here I am. My department has had a rash of turnovers recently. In the last 12 months I've easily conducted 75 interviews. It's getting quite out of hand. But the advantage is (similar to when you're the candidate) you learn more and more about the process, and how to do it well, as you do more of them.

And I've had some doozies. I've had brilliant interviews, ones where the guy walked out of the room, and our HR Manager and I looked at each other and said "It's him. Everything else is going to be a formality". I've had ones where within 5 minutes I knew they weren't the one. And, of course, I've had some that after the person left, I regret to say, I was left in hysterical laughter. So here are some basic interview concepts that will keep me from going insane. Note, I'm leaving out the obvious ones, like "don't act crazy" and "don't show up drunk". Those, I assume, are no-brainers. Without further ado, 10 (hopefully) useful interview ideas:

1. Dress neatly. I know, I know. I'm not saying you should be decked out in Kenneth Cole, but you shouldn't look like you slept in your suit and then rolled down a hill, either. And I know it's not fair since I'm usually not wearing a tie, but suck it up. Oh and ease up on the fucking cologne/perfume, ok? God, this shit drives me insane. You're going for a job interview, not trying to get laid. And I need a property manager, not a French hooker. . . And my final gripe on smells - please recognize that on very hot days, it will smell even stronger. Which mean that if you douse yourself in perfume on a 90 degree day, you will have what my friend Shane affectionately calls "that stripper smell. You know that smell - not quite dirty, not quite clean". And he means that in the way that a degenerate alcoholic means it. Which means it's not good. Also - smokers? Mints. Learn to love them. Ladies? Lipstick - take it easy, ok? And I know this is petty, and probably a peeve that only whackos like me have, but make sure it doesn't get on your teeth. Because I have the attention span of a guppy and once I see it, I won't notice anything else.

2. Shut the fuck up. I cannot stress this heavily enough. While I don't necessarily want a 3 word answer to every question, there is nothing I hate more than some goddamn blabbermouth who can't stop talking. And don't get carried away on the intros, either. Let the interviewers ask the questions. Answer them, give a couple of examples when appropriate. Don't segue into other subjects. Interviewers are looking for specific information about you, as well as a glimpse into your attitude and personality. So if you start to run your fucking mouth and hijack the interview, they will do what I do - completely shut down and start looking at my watch, because I already hate you and want to kill your entire family.

3. Don't lie. Seriously. Just don't. Embellish. That's fine. Exaggerate a bit. Hell, I did it to get this job. But outright lying is just dumb, especially since they're going to check your references. Be smart about it.

4. Don't talk about your family. This one is actually very important, for two reasons:

a) I don't fucking care. Really. I don't. I don't care if you're married or single. I don't care if you have no kids or twelve. I don't care if you're gay or straight. I.DON'T.FUCKING.CARE. If we decide to hire you, then maybe I'll start to care. But for interviews, it's irrelevant and can also get you into trouble because...

b) Full disclosure: Interviewers get nervous about people with kids. We're not supposed to. It's technically discrimination. But it happens. If you tell me you're a single parent raising
two kids, it's a flag. Because we immediately start thinking, "what if the kid gets sick? Is (s)he going to end up having to leave early too often?" I can't help it. If you've got a sick aunt who l lives with you, for fuck's sake DON'T mention it. You might as well just come out and say, "I'd love this job, but my life's a fucking wreck and I'm gonna use all my sick time in a hurry because ADD Andy and Sick Aunty Suzy are making my existence hell." So just shut up about it, and let your employer learn after you're hired and Andy and Suzy are eating up health benefits.

5. Along similar lines - don't talk about your pets, your hobbies, your fantasies, unless we ask. Me personally? I'm not gonna ask. I'm not looking for a date.

6. If, near the end of the interview, they ask if you have questions - ASK QUESTIONS. Think of some beforehand, jot them down. But please don't get carried away and ask a dozen questions, and don't constantly refer to notes. And for fuck's sake, ask smart questions. Asking about benefits is fine, and it's not going to annoy me (which is a shock, I'm sure, since as you can probably tell - EVERYTHING annoys me). But ask about the company/organization. Ask if the interviewers like their jobs. Ask how long they've worked there. Because the truth is, people love to talk about themselves. This gives the interviewers a chance to blather on a bit, especially since they've been listening to you mouth off for 40 minutes. It also shows a genuine interest beyond the pay and the bennies. If it's a specific industry, ask a couple of specific questions - my favorite so far was the one who asked how we've been affected by the recent prorations and shortfalls and whether we think the SEVRA bill is a good idea. It might not mean shit to you readers, but believe me, it made me smile. That guy automatically gets put near the top of the pile.

7. Be patient, grasshopper. You're gonna be asked a bunch of really dumb fucking questions. Some interviews are terminally dull. I try to avoid this, but it's hard. The advantage I have now is that me and my partner-in-interviewing have worked out a good rhythm, and we know what the other is interested in. I try to leave out the stupid questions. No "where will you be in 5/10/15 years", no "how are your computer skills?" to anyone under the age of 30. I don't ask about your greatest weakness, because you're gonna fucking lie about it anyway. I've been asked that a dozen times. What am I going to say? "I blog when I'm bored?" "My desk looks like it's been attacked by wild dogs?" "I masturbate furiously in the supply closets?" "I lie constantly and outrageously?" No, you're gonna say some dumb shit, like "I'm a perfectionist". And since I know this in advance, I skip the question all together. But you will get some stupid ones. Try not to show your frustration, smile, and give it your best bullshit answer. Incidentally, "I'm a perfectionist" is a bad idea. You motherfucking suck-up.

8. It's OK to be funny - within reason. It's OK to be clever and witty. Just don't use the interview as an audience for your burgeoning stand-up career. Don't get carried away. But if you can make them smile and laugh a bit, that is a huge plus. As long is the humor isn't inappropriate... I had a guy who was talking about his staff and said this: "So then I usually have the girl who works for me - ah, you guys aren't gonna accuse me of sexual harassment 'cuz I called her girl, are you?" Jesus. That was pretty much all I needed to hear. Ironically, that guy was referred to us by a City Councillor. We later found out that he'd been fired from his last job for... drum-roll... sexual harassment! Anyway, no off-color jokes, and keep it under control.

9. Don't be an asshole. Sounds simple, no? Well, there's a fine line between sounding confident in your abilities, and sounding like a cocky shithead. And nobody likes a cocky shithead. Don't overwhelm them with tales of battlefield glory. Sound like you've got the tools, and you've got the talent. But NOT like you want to take the place over.

10. Don't panic when I put my hand on your thigh. OK, fine I only have nine tips. Whatever. Bite me.

The truth is, interviewing is like trying to pick up girls (or guys)*. You want to look nice. You're going to exaggerate a little, you want to show off a little, and make them laugh, and you want to impress them. But you don't want to sound like an arrogant asshole, and you don't want to say things that are either obviously untrue, or can easily be proven false. And try not to smell like a whore. And I swear to God, any guy that comes into my office smelling like any kind of body spray gets thrown out the window.

Actually, it can pretty much be summed up here.

Additional tips are found here:

Good luck, everyone. I'm sure everyone is now glad that they don't work with me.

*It should be noted that I couldn't pick up a woman if you pointed a gun at my head. My wife basically had to hit me in the head to get me to pursue her. So while my interview advice is sound, my dating advice is probably shit.


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I've recently been on a few interviews myself in the past couple of months. I couldn't get the interviewer to SHUT THE FUCK UP at three of the interviews. They talked at me for about an hour, only asked me a few questions, and didn't really seem at all interested in the answers to the questions that they asked. It was really bizarre, and slightly annoying.

Natalia said...

11. Don't eat cheap sushi from a seedy Chinese buffet 2 hours prior to your interview.

Trust me.

Jason said...

I wanted to start looking for a job again soon and these tips are actually helpful...albeit a bit scary at times. As much as I hope you find someone to work there soon, I do enjoy the ranting about the idiots!

Redhead said...

As with your resume comments, all of these seem like common sense to me when clearly they aren't. So I have to wonder - how is it that I'm not the president of a company by now?! Everyone else out there seems to be a complete moron. Oh wait, is it because I'm blogging at work?

Kerstin said...

Well really didn't want to hear about how fan-freaking-tastic my kid is and how he's on the honor roll and Harvard bound and will probably be your boss when he's 25?

Geez, I wish I'd know that earlier.

On a more serious note, I wish people actually used their common sense when going in to an interview. I think a lot of people get a head rush right before the interview commences, subsequently all blood flow to the brain is halted and they become retards. (No offense to the mentally challenged who are probably a hell of a lot more intelligent in interviews than people with a relatively normal IQ.)

em said...

Ahh, Spud. Great clip. Good luck with the interviews. Oh, also, I've worked as an AA before--I can always tell right away whether or not someone's gonna be great to hire within 5 minutes. It's weird, but it's true. If he/she doesn't bother to follow directions (when "follow me to this conference room" somehow translates into "I'm going to stay in the lobby and wander around until someone more important takes me back to a room"), barely makes eye contact, or refuses to ask me necessary questions (seriously, you really wanna ask the interviewer where the bathroom is?), then you know they're shit for the job.

TK said...

anon 1 - huh? were correcting my grammar?

anon 2 - that is annoying. I would never do that.

Nat - that's good advice in ANY situation.

Jason - I will keep you all posted.

Red - might be my problem, too.

kerstin - Welcome. That's actually a good theory. Maybe they all stand up too quickly.

em - Oh, I was just talking about the eye contact thing. That drives me CRAZY. I want to yell "HEY! MORON! I asked you the question, not the fucking bookshelf!"

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