Friday, July 20, 2007

Interview With Vampires

Unfortunately for all of us, there are numerous necessarily evils that we have to encounter in our lifetimes. And through these usually surfaces sheer idiocy and monumental stupidities. Nonetheless, there is nothing that can be done but keep our eyes closed and go through with it.

Interviews -- they are the bane of my existence. Although I understand why the concept of interviews came to be, I have difficulty accepting the fact that it has become an annoying, insincere and utterly fake protocol. So much so that I can't help but wonder why tremendous weight is put on it when considering a person for a position. I would think that the idea of an interview is to get to know a potential employee. Plain and simple. Almost like an interesting and engaging conversation. You know, get a feel of his or her personality, skills, capabilities and such.

But no. As a matter of fact, I more or less equate interviews nowadays with tedious and rigorous processes that simply drain the lives out of us. I never understood the need to prolong interviews to as much as eight to ten phases -- only to find out that you weren't good enough on the ninth. Obviously, interviews can be stretched out to a hundred phases and one will still be unable to make certain that the candidate is the perfect one. After all, it takes a lifetime to get to know oneself; more so a complete stranger who just wants an honest job with a paycheck attached to it every month.

And then there are those tests. Admittedly, there are some professions and industries where tests are necessary and I accept that. I can understand why aspiring journalists need to show samples of their work or take a writing test. Or perhaps why engineers need to get certified and also why lawyers need to pass the bar. However, I do not quite agree with asking an administrative assistant to take a math test involving algebraic and trigonometric problems. Or asking a consultant to estimate how many ping pong balls can fit in a Boeing 747. Or -- get this -- asking an entry level analyst which famous people he or she would take during a scavenger hunt. And those cheesy brainteasers -- seriously... why?

So if I happen to know why the person only takes the lift up the twentieth floor even though he really lives on the twenty-fourth floor, that makes me a better fit for a job?

I once had a job interview where I was asked to estimate how many flights there are all over the world on a daily basis. As I tried keeping my eyeballs from popping out of their sockets, I was silently shitting myself in my seat. I mean, where in the world do I start? Whatever happened to those overplayed questions where they ask you to name three strengths and three weaknesses?

"How about I look it up online?" I asked cheekily knowing full well that I have probably bombed the interview already anyway.

"But that's not the point of the exercise," my interviewer countered.

"Oh I know," I said. "I know you just want to know how my brain works. And trust me, it works that's why I'm asking you if I can just look it up online. I'm smart, I know how to make things easier."

He sighed. "Fine, let's try another one," he said clearly not impressed. "Can you estimate the world's population in a thousand years?"

"What do you care? We'll all be dead."

Needless to say, I didn't get the gleaming job in the prestigious firm. But hell, if I have to go through nonsense like that to prove myself worthy, then no thanks. Having the talent for knowing useless things will not grant me a better career. These days, it seems that the more bull we know, the better chance we stand to bagging our dream jobs.

On a more serious note, interviews truly are an important portion of recruiting and finding a job. It's the only real way to get to know someone and to gauge whether he or she can do the job. And naturally, we put our best feet forward when being interviewed. The only real way to find out if a person truly is a good fit is to give him or her the job -- and hope for the best. We win some, we lose some. Recruiting employees is a massive trial and error feat.

However, the creation of a department dedicated to recruitment has decided to make themselves feel important by asking applicants to go through hoops just to clinch an interview. Otherwise, they send an uber-impersonal email or letter lying about how genuinely sorry they are for not being able to grant us an interview. I cannot believe there is an industry solely devoted to this cause.

Looking for a full-time job is a full-time job in itself. It is one that is most depressing and is simply complete torture. Going through interviews is the validation of our crushed self-esteems. I can imagine how much better it would be to roll around on rock salt after rubbing our bodies with sandpaper. Bagging that one job is the sweetest victory -- and an added bonus if we actually don't mind doing what it entails.

At the end of the day, aren't we all just prostitutes that accept whomever takes us as long as they are willing to pay us? We go where the most money is.


Post Script:

I apologize for the negligence from posting this week. I was swamped with that little bugger called work and exhaustion clung to me like a lovesick hormonal teenage boy to the hottest girl in class. Having a full-time job seriously gets in the way of the fun things in life. I will catch up with comments this weekend, I promise. Really!


Blogger Natalie said...

I think I am the only person in the world who enjoys interviews. I like going on them and I like conducting them. I like to see how an employer thinks and what things are and are not important to them. The thing I always remember is that I wouldn't be in an interview unless I was qualified for the position. Therefore, all I have to do to succeed is make this person like me and to see if I like them. They lets me relax and just go for it.

I will disagree with your last statement about the money though. I don't think we all go just for whatever pays more. For me, it's about the passion and inspiration in a job. If I don't care about my work I won't stay. If I don't stay I won't get other interviews when I am ready to leave. I took a pay cut to come to my current company because the work would make me happier. I might be in the minority but we aren't all sellin it for the cash.

11:36 PM  
Blogger ThanKwee-Anajo said...

I love your answers!

"How about I look it up online?"

"What do you care? We'll all be dead."

HaHAHA! If it were up to me, I would have hired you because of these clever answers demonstrating a sense of humor. I think that working with people who have a sense of humor and can get along with others is very important and often underrated. I used to have to hire people to assist me. After many years of experience, I finally decided that I preferred people who might have fewer skills than some of the other applicants, but who would be eager to learn and easy to get along with.

But, yeah, I remember the days of having to go on job interviews. It was miserable. And I was so uptight that I came across as some fool. Hated it!

I think that when going on an interview, you should see it not only as them interviewing you, but also you interviewing them to see if you really want to work for them. Don't forget to ask them some important questions about what kind of work environment that they offer and what their basic philosophy is.

12:04 AM  
Blogger Tanya Brown said...

Some of the tests you mentioned are ludicrous; some are less so. (Admins are one of the under appreciated groups of people in the world. Some of them handle a very wide variety of tasks and situations and could conceivably need rudimentary math skills like algebra and trig. Some, on the other hand, seem to specialize in filing their fingernails on company time.)

In some cases, the goal of tests may simply be to see how well the person thinks on his or her feet, responds to stress or solves problems, as opposed to getting an "answer". Or, as you imply, they can simply be another checkbox for the HR department to tick off.

If I was desperate enough for money, I'd cheerfully flop around on the floor with a ping-pong ball balanced on my nose if that was what was required to get through an interview. However, at this point in time, if I sensed that someone was messing with me, I'd conclude the interview. As in "I'm sorry; I don't think this position is a good fit for my skill set. I won't take up any more of your time. Thank you anyhow."

Demeaning interviews such as the ones you cite are an excellent reason to save up several years worth of living expenses. The process of interviewing becomes much more productive and enjoyable when you really don't need the money that comes with the job.

12:09 AM  
Anonymous electric bearbearina said...

I agree with thankwee-anajo completely! I would have hired you on the spot based on those witty replies. I've been on an interviewing panel so many times and when I'm sick and tired of asking stupid, greatest-strength/achievement/weakness-type questions, I sometimes ask really bizarre questions just to see how the person will react. Nearly all of them stare at me blankly while others stutter a convoluted reply, not really answering my question, or break into a sweat and emit a nervous laugh. Your replies show wit, confidence, and that you can think on your feet. Obviously that interviewer you encountered is more than a bit obtuse.

1:25 AM  
Blogger The Black King said...

What do you care? We'll all be dead!

Hahhaha.... LOL! Good answers. As Thankwee-anajo said, would've hired you. But your ending statement was as brutal as it was true: yeah in most cases we do hanker after the fattest paycheck.

2:03 AM  
Blogger Anu said...

That was a brutal blog...very true though...personally i have not experienced more than 2 interviews but the process by itself is gruelling and sometimes an utter waste of time ,so totally not connected with the job you are hired for!

i completely empathize with you!

3:24 AM  
Blogger the walker said...

"What do you care? We'll all be dead."

world best answer...

3:32 AM  
Blogger Jennifer McK said...

I don't like interviews though I've been told I'm good at them.
Love this post.
My dream job? It doesn't require an interview.
I want to make enough money on my writing so that I can call it a "career" and not a "hobby" which seems to be based on income.
Who knew?

4:04 AM  
Blogger jellyhead said...

Good Lord! I can't believe some of those questions you wrote about being asked....absolutely ridiculous and almost certainly irrelevant. You have my deepest empathy!

4:57 AM  
Blogger fifi said...

i have never had an interview where I was asked anything like that. Sounds very annoying, but there ae those who thrive on the pointless pursuit of trivia.

But I am rarely after new work .
I get a pretty crappy pay rate, but I love my work and i'm not starving, so it doesnt matter.

I hope you found a good new job!

6:09 AM  
Blogger soul&body said...

I also dont like interviews and the tests process in spite that i agree a bit how they r to see about how ppl think. but in those times ppl r nervous and i think they dont look how they really are!!! by the way i also love the "What do you care? We'll all be dead." xD i would like to see his face :D ahahaha
keep the same good work!!!

6:21 AM  
Blogger Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...

I could sit and listen to you rant all day. I think I would like someone like you in my office. Sometimes it takes ranting to release the steam and get the work done, other times it plain comedy. And who doesn't need a laugh now and again. I say kudos princess ... bring it on!

10:31 AM  
Blogger Wanderlust Scarlett said...


Thanks for coming by my place, as I got to come here and find this!

You have a wonderful wit and a realistic and humorous perspective.

Very good blog, and I LOVE that quote from Princess Leia at the top... primo line.

I'll be back soon,

Scarlett & Viaggiatore (the lion)

10:59 AM  
Blogger Libby said...

princess, i LOVE your answers! 'you'll be dead'...hahaha!! we're not worthy of your quick thinking! which may be why that person didn't hire you immediately...they felt threatened by you.

12:22 PM  
Blogger Lord Chimmy said...

I have this book called "How Would You Move Mount Fuji?"

The premise of the books is "how the world's smartest companies select the most creative thinkers." Anyway, I found the book rather lame. But, it did have a few tidbits of advice on "outsmarting" the puzzle interview.

Microsoft is a company this is notorious for these insane questions. The problem is a lot of other companies have followed suit. Having a creative solution to an imaginary problem doesn't necessarily translate well into job skill. You'd think the smart people that designed these interviews would know that...

12:51 PM  
Blogger Vengelyne said...

At the end of the day, aren't we all just prostitutes that accept whomever takes us as long as they are willing to pay us? We go where the most money is.

Uh huh... most definitely.

I'd have hired you for your witty and honest answers -- surely demonstrates that you think out of the box. Isn't that a quality that all recruiters look for when recruiting?

1:35 PM  
Blogger Vik said...

Oh you are spot on. Just what I think about the entire procedure. I think most times the interview in itself are nothing but trying moments when the folks who are already on board want to see the guy who is being interviewed, bending and squirming and sitting uneasily whilst the interviewer has a sense of accomplishment that he made someone look inferior.

Seriously, what do they even care if whether there are planes [OR] people living for 1000 years.. crazy is'nt it. An instance when I moved back from the US and interviewed with Accenture, a 2 year experienced person was interviewing me and I knew that by the audacious questions and I started correcting him for his fallacy (Not to blow my trumpet) but just goes to show what "interviewers" are made up of.

I so much agree with the last liner. When we were in the US, the fellow american used to say "Ain't you a Corporate Whore"... I was shell shocked when he called me "Whore" LOL. I like that word but - Corporate Whore...

Oh that high note, relax in the weekend and don't take life seriously :-) (Gyan Number 1 )

1:47 PM  
Blogger James said...

Hi Princess,
You bring up some valid points but all in all I prefer the interview approach where I can charm the interviewer and tell him/her what they want to hear rather than face a load of IQ tests and tasks. It's a kind of a game you just have to learn to play it. I went for an interview once for a job I was totally not qualified for and got it because at a crucial moment I spoke a few words of French.

Are we all prostitutes? That's how capitalism works I guess but that's maybe too strong a word. I prefer "wage slave".

I haven't read any of the other comments, maybe folks have said this already.

5:01 PM  
Blogger Shrink Wrapped Scream said...

Oh, Im not sure I should own up to this.. In my last life I owned and ran a group of recruitment agencies in central London.



ps. How many puppies do you estimate will be born in New England today?

5:16 PM  
Blogger StandbyMind said...

Well Princess..
I was thinkin so much things to say to you while reading ur post..So many while i read on and on..
Then came the last line...
I said " Hell..She is so right..We are all Proses...givin in fo money"

All thoughts Vanish!!!

You ve written lovely as ever!!

5:54 PM  
Blogger Andrew said...

If such stupid and odd questions are asked during an interview, I am not sure that I would want to work for that company.

8:30 PM  
Blogger Jeya Anand said...

nice post!!:)
linking u:)

12:36 AM  
Blogger eastcoastdweller said...

My three worst job interview experiences:

1) Just as I was pulling into the parking lot for a sales job interview, my car was struck from behind by a dump truck and totaled. I wasn't hurt and I tried to go through with the interview but needless to say, I was just a little bit off.

2) Applying at Petsmart. Yeah, some entry level job feeding gerbils or whatever, but they handed some stack of tests to me that bore a disturbing resemblance to the SAT -- hours worth of awful calculations and such.

3) I had a Pr job interview on the other side of town -- I left home in plenty of time but then got stuck in standstill traffic for about 40 minutes just a few miles from the place -- and it was such a huge place that when I got there, in my attempt to hurry, I got very disgustingly sweaty. Late + sweaty = no job.

12:46 AM  
Blogger Aditi said...

I hated interviews...

1:40 AM  
Blogger Lefty said...

Apparently I'm not a very good prostitute, because I'm not getting nearly enough money.

And what DO you think the world poplulation will be in a thousand years (give or take a decade)?

3:24 AM  
Blogger appletini said...

Those are some odd questions for an interview :0)

7:26 AM  
Blogger Kati said...

While I've never had to deal with such insanely stupid questions, I can most definitely appreciate how annoying it would be to be asked such an insanely stupid question. I hope your next interview is administered by a person who hates such unimportant questions as much as you do. *wink*

Thanks for the support on my latest work-related upset!

7:49 AM  
Blogger the walking man said...

The only response in an interview that works is "Whatever company policy dictates"

"How man fights will there be in the world..."
"Whatever company policy dictates"

"What is zen"
"Whatever company policy dictates"

The one really good thing about being called a Master Certified Auto Mechanic in cars, trucks and, motorcycles, with two certificates that said so; one from the state and one from a professional organization I had to test for, was that my fucking tool boxes had wheels and if I didn't like the shit of being where I was I could roll it to somewhere else and have a job with in a day.

But my last full time job where I stayed for 20 years was so fun because i had the upper hand on management. I knew what i was doing and never adhered to company policy or orders from foremen. Of course during that 20 years i went through 80 days of suspension where i either got drunk every day, or went to work calling every one i knew and walked in with enough money to buy a great lunch for my co-workers and refused the foremen any of it.

It was good.

PS My wife has the same job title as you and is an anal retentive to the point where nothing is ever out of place so she can find it in a minute or less and she hasn't been able to get a job as an administrative executive assistant since 1995. But fuck 'em that won't hire her, it's their loss and those that do who fire her because of her excruciating habit of true honesty in keeping records of who said what to whom, to a company they always wished they had her skills back.

Don't ever kiss ass to get a job then you are not a whore for money but rather a professional who gets paid for their skill.

peace and Get 'er Done!


8:20 AM  
Blogger The Lad said...

Yes we all ll be Dead...

And lemme tell you the way you write it all down is simply amazing..:)

3:49 PM  
Blogger Rashi said...

I'll rather hate to be in that situation..

well written :)

10:12 PM  
Blogger foam said...

ah, i've never applied for corporate positions. i can't believe they ask questions like that. someplace some company is making tons of money convincing firms that these are the type of questions that determine what character a person has. too bad they don't seem to encourage the 'thinking outside the box' answers. i would have hired you on the spot.

11:25 PM  
Blogger Enemy of the Republic said...

I hate interviews even though I generally get through them okay. They suck and are demeaning. What is a vampire to you?

1:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, where the hell are you applying for jobs? I don't think I've ever been asked such questions.

Of course when it comes to employment, I'm sure I set my sights fairly low, just so I can get paid without a whole lot of bloodletting.

3:45 AM  
Blogger nel said...

i think you guys here is a little bit unfair here, then again ... maybe i could be wrong but i will put my views here ...

maybe princess is interviewing for a very very high positing that need the ability to see far sighted to make good analytical dicision, and as much percision as possible. As such, such question could be apply to test her ability and not trying to plug from the air.

... sorry about this if i do step on people toe but i am trying to be pratical as well. Like i have said ... i can be very wrong as well ... :)

12:04 PM  
Blogger nel said...

oh, princess ...

maybe you shouldn't have breakup on the interview. Ask yourself the question the next time ... if you have a company that manage billion of dollars and millions of workers is depended on that decision of yours. Would you answer that way to those workers?

You have done very well for going that far on the stages of interview. Just like anything in life or your career. Finish the run the best you can ... hate to say this but i am always the one of those that give up at the final line ... cheers ... :)

12:17 PM  
Blogger Keshi said...

**At the end of the day, aren't we all just prostitutes that accept whomever takes us as long as they are willing to pay us? We go where the most money is.

100% agreed! But rite now I hv change that attitude and Im not chasing money...not that I did anyways :)


12:41 PM  
Blogger Ps said...

I love the way you wrote the post.I do agree many intervews are actually "insult-views" :-)

"At the end of the day, aren't we all just prostitutes that accept whomever takes us as long as they are willing to pay us? We go where the most money is"

I have been very fortunate that I don't have to work for whoever pays me most money.In fact,I gave up the "chase" long time ago and I do what I really like and make a decent living out of it.But then again--I have been really really lucky.(and I realise it is not so for many)

1:23 PM  
Blogger nithin ramachandran said...

hell yeah ! interviews are a necessary evil . ive been in interviews a lot of itmes...n yeah i liked the pressure...but these days....theyre so predicatble out here ...poeple can actually prepare for an interview....thats not the whole point is to catch em by surprise...

dunno whats the point of knowing who the indian president is for a software engg....or to know how dancing and singing help as hobbies...or if you were the sports captain of your college... dont get it cause you look ....thats the wierdest ive heard...i dont like your face!!!

nyways...guess thats how life is....always with a pinch of salt!!!

nice post ...loved it ...keep posting...

8:26 PM  
Blogger Nithya N said...

"exhaustion clung to me like a teenage guy on a hot girl "

what an analogy!!

10:17 PM  
Blogger Lucid Darkness said...

They are nothing short of vampires. Argh.

11:15 PM  
Blogger Jac said...

That was really nice write up about a bold subject.

I am catching up with my blogs. Will be around again.

11:42 PM  
Blogger Zee said...

i hate much so that i stick on to my job simply so that i dont have to undergo another pychometric test to be pronounced psychotic or go through some interview with....a vampire!!! :)

12:21 AM  
Blogger Crushed by Ingsoc said...

'At the end of the day, aren't we all just prostitutes that accept whomever takes us as long as they are willing to pay us? We go where the most money is.'

I feel like that.
I often fel that it's selling your soul to the devil.
But hell, got to eat somehow!

2:46 AM  
Blogger Danielle said...

I have been outta the interview game for awhile, I have never been asked such odd questions.

Hoping the next interview is more sane.

Be well and enjoy the day.

3:28 AM  
Blogger drips of paint said...

princess...I think I like to be interview by you...hiring???...besides singapore may be a nice place to move to.

9:15 AM  
Blogger X. Dell said...

These are questions that that should have much bearing on the 'whys' of interviewing, if not necessarily the 'whys' of interview content and protocols. The candidate is put in an artificial situation, is expected to behave artificially.

I'm guessing that this is sort of conditioning to the company's culture, especially if artificiality is required for the job.

6:21 AM  
Blogger nel said...

Behave artificially ... Interesting here ... well, I don't actually think so because usually the first few stage is consider as coffee talk. That is when they would see casually if you would be able to click with the company culture and then your ability comes in. Although, I do find it funny to go until ten stages ... lol ... but then again blood sucking does goes both ways here. The company better pays extreamlly well for searching such candidate or they will be also wasting their manpowering cost and time to set so many stages just to find one sutaible candidate. Like I say, bloodsucking here will goes both ways lucratively ... :)

2:20 PM  
Blogger utopia said...

liked your banter princess :). interviews are a necessary evil. i remember the harrowing time i had just calling prospective employers up and literally begging them to call me for an interview. but the fact that some employers actually ask such ridiculous questions is ludicrous.

3:17 PM  
Blogger Nice New Guy said...

"At the end of the day, aren't we all just prostitutes that accept whomever takes us as long as they are willing to pay us? We go where the most money is."

No. Not "we all".
Some follow interests, and well-paying jobs follow those who are good at following their interests. The prostitute-situation reverses in that case.

4:05 PM  
Blogger paddy said...

You might think I'm just spacing but no, I am telling the gospel acc. to Paddy. I was asked at an interview (that might have set me up for life) Mr. Dunn (there were three of them) could you tell us as your CV is not very clear.... between 19-- and 19-- 3 years-- what you were doing exactly.
The answer was simple I was working...but my mind went blank I just couldn't remember. I sat in a sweat for a second or two and said just that.
I didn't get get the job.
Y;-) Paddy

6:08 PM  
Blogger thisisme said...

I enjoyed reading this. I've been blessed - the jobs I've had have all been on the back of interviews where we just chatted. I have to say that I've mostly loved the jobs too. I've had so many friends have nightmare interviews though, so I think I'm lucky. If I don't like them, I'm not working for them.

6:54 PM  
Blogger Crashdummie said...

"Looking for a full-time job is a full-time job in itself"

Aint that the bitter truth. Am so thinking of changing my job, but to be honest, I cant bare to go out and find another one. Its a vicious circle - you go, search, get your hopes up, then *plat*, nada...

But to be honest, I thought you handled the interview question brilliantly - if I were the recuiter you would so have stepped up to the next round.

8:37 PM  
Blogger Ancalagon The Black said...

I like interviews... I have probably given over a 100 interviews in the last 4 years... the toughest was the Foundation Fellowship interview in the University of Georgia, it was like a one week interview thingie, almost 10 different kinds of interviews but it was fun... however, professional interviews, especially in the IT sector in India are not fun. They are dominated by people who really know very little of the concept of an interview, instead they ask inane and irrelevant questions and in a sadistic mould, give trick questions and coding to do... I once asked a colleague as to why he gave trick questions in interviews because in real life coding, knowledge of trick questions are not what you will require to succeed, he said, that the reason was because he was also asked trick questions and so he was merely paying it back to newbies in kind... idiotic I say...

1:15 AM  
Blogger ArtfulSub said...

Interesting post and a good blog. I recently came up with the number 100,000 for the number of interviews I've conducted in my life.

Regarding the increasing use of tests, I'll say this:

15 years ago, you could look at a recent College Graduate's Degree and GPA and KNOW they had the skills to perform the job.

Today, a Degree is close to meaningless and the GPA IS meaningless.

I haven't seen a GPA under 3.0 in 2 years. I have, however, interviewed several "scholars" who begin and end every sentence with "yo" after "earning" a Degree.

Testing has become an absolute must due to the utter failure of our Colleges and Universities.

12:39 AM  

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