Saturday, September 10, 2011

Tips for the InterviewER

We tend to think of interviews as a one way street, especially in this economy where more people need jobs than companies need positions filled, but this isn't always the case.  A lot of companies need to make themselves look attractive to potential employees as much as those people need to get hired.  Just like there are things a person can say that might not seem overtly negative, but imply negative things that might disqualify them from being hired, interviewers are at risk of doing the same thing and making their company look unattractive.  (Note these are generally for white collar jobs where you need more than a clean criminal record and a working brain.)

"Are you willing to work weekends?"
To me this is crippling for a company that typically employs 9 to 5.  I think that most office folks are perfectly willing to work weekends, so long as it's not the norm.  But when an interviewer has to make it a point to ask, it feels like you're going to get Lumburghed at every conceivable opportunity.

"What are your biggest strengths and weaknesses" and any other "typical" interview question.
One, it makes the interviewer look like a completely uncreative moron.  If you're interviewing for a technical position (like engineering), 99% of the interview should be spent discussing technical aspects.    But it hides the real reason questions like this are asked, to attempt to decipher your personality in an utterly bizarre atmosphere.  I know that personality is important for most jobs, but it's much easier to pick things up having a conversation than it is asking stupid questions.  And if you are asking me a lot of psychobabble shit, I'm going to get the impression that your office is a gossipy shithole.

"Where do you see yourself in five/ten years?"
Not working here!  Companies are worried about loyalty, I get it.  After all it sucks to waste resources hiring and training someone only to see them jump ship when something better comes along.  But I've found that companies that are worried about loyalty aren't loyal themselves.  They'll either drag their feet on promoting you (not promote you), or they'll kick your ass to the curb the second they start having trouble.  Plus studies have shown that it's better to hire ambitious workers that might jump ship if they find something better than it is to hire loyal yes-men that are okay with being stuck.  This question makes me feel like a company wants me to be dependent on them, like they're a drug.

"What do you know about our company?"
This one pisses me off for a lot of reasons.  First of all, a lot of my job-seeking experience has been in attending career fairs where I talk to twenty different reps.  You're always told to know something about a company whose rep you're going to speak with, but when you've got twenty of them, it's not going to happen.

Then there's the other side of things.  Most company websites have the most PR-ed up bullshit articles that it's impossible to actually tell when they do.  Because "finding innovative solutions for clientele" means absolutely nothing.  I've found a great counter to this question is to fit one of my own in early on in the interview: "tell me about the last project you worked on."

"Are you currently employed?"
It's okay when it's used as a lead in to talk about relevant work experience.  It's not okay when you simply want to know when someone is employed or not because it's a black mark to a lot of companies to be unemployed.  (Which is fucking stupid.)

"I'm not a (technical profession), I'm from HR."Leave now, you are in no way qualified to decide whether or not I fit a technical position.

Ironically, one of the things that doesn't really turn me off is when the person sitting opposite me is a bad interviewer.  A lot of the time mid-level engineers are just thrown into the interviewing processes by their boss (especially if the regular interviewer isn't available) and that's kind of a weird situation to find yourself in.  Plus usually when this happens, all those annoying typical interview questions are thrown out because the interviewer is more comfortable talking about the technical aspects of the job, or what they've worked on.  And that's the most important thing anyways: does the candidate have some familiarity with the actual work the company does?

1 comment:

  1. Mostly agree with you except for the "What do you know about our company" question. They want to know that you've done your research and are prepared for the interview. They want to know that you're actually interested in the position you applied for. If you are prepared for one question, make it that one and you'll knock their socks off.