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Tuesday, April 19, 2005


In Way of the Gun, in the early stages of the movies there is a scene with Benicio del Toro and Ryan Phillipe interviewing in order to donate sperm. The former, during this process, proffers that he has never, in fact, killed anybody. The interviewer, a bespeckled man, is bothered by this admission, and notes that he did not inquire after the information. Longbaugh, the character, simply notes "You should."

I've begun the unfun process of applying for summer jobs that I am vastly overqualified to perform. One part that really bothers me about this while charade is the questions asked both in the job postings and during the interview. The interview, especially. They don't mean anything, and anybody with even a cursory knowledge of the business world is going to know the 'right' answers. What is a challenge you've overcome? I halfway want to say, "Not answering this question by urinating in your trash can." It's moronic.

I understand probing into the resume. Since 99% of the time it's a work of unadulterated fiction (the remaining 1% being better classified as either "Sci Fi" or "Fantasy"), you want to get a lock on what "Equal Opportunity Facilitator - Secretary" actually entails. But seriously - questions like "What is your greatest accomplishment?" deserve scorn and you bloody well know it.

If you want to know about someone, you can't ask these sorts of things. Because when you start asking things that come up, in one form or another, in casual interaction, everyone has several prepared remarks. If the person has been interviewing a lot, they'll probably even have an entire choreographed song and dance. All you get when you ask about their future is a nice lie about helping people or changing the world. Nobody ever says, "My future plans involve building up enough public moral credibility to effectively cash in by selling out an entire political or spiritual movement at the age of twenty-six." Even though that's what I was thinking, Kaplan.

No, if you really want to know about someone, you ask things like, "If you were forced to choose between hitting your mother in the clavicle with a bronzed trout or having consentual sex with your sister thereby infecting her with syphilis, which would you elect to do?" Then they have to manufacture an answer on the spot, and you can see how their thought process actually works. Also, there is truly no "right" answer to this question. Good questions also include those that insinuate something about the person or things the person cares about. If interviewing a candidate from Notre Dame, for example, start intimating that you hate Christians and think mostly that they're lunatics. Imply that masculine men are potentially homosexual. The ones that laugh along really want the job. Another good tactic seems to be to flagrently lie and see if they call you on it. Lie about very obvious things, including but not limited to, world events, the name of the company, 'coworker sex friday,' and the existance/nonexistance of mythical creatures.

This isn't to say all interviewers are terrible. For example, I soon have a second round of interviews with a company called Student Horizons. Part of the initial application was a writing sample. I sent in my "law school" personal statement, which is a completely made up account of a life-changing experience that I think I might have seen on Saved By The Bell. Or maybe Starship Troopers. Anyway, the essay is about how I became disillusioned with the academic study of mathematics. During the phone interview, the hiring manager mentioned my writing sample, and asked if I had any regrets about having spent so much time on something that I later disliked. I answered in the negative (something like "Now I know more about myself and what I have aptitude in" though probably more convoluted.) and she followed up by inquring if, in general, it would be better for an employee to feel disappointment over a similar circumstance. It isn't "You have the chance to, without penalty, murder an infant - do you do it?" but it's better than the normal interview crap.

Any of you have interview stories, good or bad?

cranked out at 5:42 AM | |

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