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Job interviews: What not to say

Kripal Singh
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 26, 2001
Posts: 254
got this one from CNN . Please add if you have any other point in mind .

1. Don't pick a fight with the interviewer. Example follows ...

Applicant: "So you are making a decision this week?"

Me: "Well, no, I don't think so. I'm narrowing down ..."

Applicant: "This is outrageous. I was told that you would decide this week!"

Me: "I'm sorry if there was a miscommunication. I'm hoping to reach a decision soon, but there are still some interviews ..."

Applicant: "This is extremely unprofessional and unacceptable ..."

Me: "All right, listen. If you came in here and knocked my socks off, sure, I might have made a decision this week. But you didn't, so goodbye."

A shame really. The person was on my short list up to that point.

2. Don't argue like you already work here ...

Me: "That's an interesting story pitch. But it's very legalistic. You see, for our readers, you really need to identify the points in the process where investors can get a clue about buy, sell or hold."

Applicant: "Well, now you're just thinking like an editor."

Sigh.

Hey, it's not all me. The deputy managing editors here do some interviews too.

3. Know what you want to do (or at least make the interviewer think you do).

Deputy: "So do you want to work here or not?"

Applicant: "I'll let you be the judge of that."

Are these anecdotes indicative of some overwhelming factors in today's job climate? Nah.


# Help an unprivileged kid.<br /> Whatever u do will make a difference...<br /> ...to a child's life & ur own #<br /><a href="http://www.cry.org/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">www.cry.org/</a>
Jesse Torres
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 25, 2004
Posts: 985
/*
My friend actually did say this during an interview with a consulting firm. Needless to say, he wasn�t hired.
*/
Interviewer: "Where do you see yourself in 5 years?"
Interviewee: "In your chair!"
**************************************

/*
Aren�t we all human?
*/
Interviewer: "What are your weaknesses?"
Interviewee: "I have no weaknesses. I am always right and never make
mistakes. I always get the job done right."
Interviewer:
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by Jesse Torres:

Interviewer: "Where do you see yourself in 5 years?"
Interviewee: "In your chair!"


While the tone is wrong, the sentiment is fine. I've had people tell me they want to end up in the position I'm in. Most engineers will say they want to become an architect or project manager (both of whom usual interview prospective hires). In consulting, it's fine to say you'd like a role running a team, or at a certain level. As long as it's not curt ("I want *your* job") or overly optimistic ("I'll make VP in 3 years") it's fine. I much prefer to hire people who at least have goals of where they want to be.

--Mark
Mike Gershman
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 13, 2004
Posts: 1272
Interviewer: "Where do you see yourself in 5 years?"
Interviewee: "In your chair!"

I always liked getting that answer. Even if the applicant was unrealistic about the nontechnical side of my job, I was happy to see someone who was ambitious and would work hard to get ahead. In fact, it is a recommended answer in some interviewing techniques books.

On the other hand, if the interviewing manager is in final placement and insecure about his/her own job, it's a dangerous answer. You just have to read the situation.

BTW, my favorite interviewing story is about an applicant at a major beverage company who slipped on ice in the parking lot after the first interview. During the second interview, he mentioned that he planned on suing the company. For some reason, he didn't get the job. The guy that told me this story swore it was true.

BBTW, my second favorite story is about a programmer who was about to cry every time he couldn't answer a technical question. It was tough coming up with questions easy enough for him to answer but not so easy he knew what I was doing. After he left, I was so happy nothing bad happened. Two years later, he showed up at my company again. He didn't recognize me but I knew him, so I knew what to do.

Believe me folks, very few interviewers are out to trick you or destroy you, they just want to find the best candidate for the job.
[ October 23, 2004: Message edited by: Mike Gershman ]

Mike Gershman
SCJP 1.4, SCWCD in process
Inuka Vincit
Ranch Hand

Joined: Aug 10, 2004
Posts: 175
My Manager once told me that one interviewer asked if our company policy allowed drinking beer at work . The entry level EE interview always has some kind of theoretical type questions, once when the manager asked the candidate such a question, the candidate had answered and then replied bath with a theoretical puzzle type question from my manager . Some times you wonder what people are thinking.


MCP (C# application dev 70-316) 860<br />SCJP 1.4 100% SCJD (URLyBird) 378<br />MAD 100% nuts
Arjun Shastry
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 13, 2003
Posts: 1874
In one interview,I was asked application of Fibonacci series to civil engineering.I said I don't know.At the end of interview,manager asked whether I want to ask anything.I replied back asking how Fibonacci series is applied to civil engg.Manager thought for 15 seconds and replied back "I also don't know!But they are applied"!Needless to say,I never heard a reply from that company.


MH
Jeroen Wenting
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 12, 2000
Posts: 5093
Believe me folks, very few interviewers are out to trick you or destroy you, they just want to find the best candidate for the job.


hmm...

Explain the time I was delayed on the way to an interview by a major traincrash along the way causing a 3 hour delay (I'd counted on no more than 2 hours delay...). Despite me finding a payphone and calling ahead I'd be late and why (the crash was reported on radio and TV so they knew I wasn't making things up) they told me on arrival they'd not hire me for being late to the interview...

Or the time I went to an interview and when coming back home found a rejection letter posted 2 days earlier. The interviewer had actually been quite positive and said he'd recommend I'd be hired. Either he didn't know about the letter or he'd lied in my face stonecold.

Or what about an interviewer just keeping on asking ever more small pointless questions (about ever more obscure little technical details) until I couldn't answer one and abruptly ended the interview. I never heard back from them...

Or the one where I probably wasn't hired for being unfamiliar with the favourite IDE of the interviewer (the rest went well).

Maybe just bad luck I know.


42
Mike Gershman
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 13, 2004
Posts: 1272
I said they aren't out to trick or destroy you, not that they're there to help you. With programmers in such oversupply in western countries, managers will have unreasonably exact experience requirements and treat applicants like unwelcome interruptions:


Possible explantions follow:

1. Explain the time I was delayed on the way to an interview by a major traincrash along the way causing a 3 hour delay (I'd counted on no more than 2 hours delay...). Despite me finding a payphone and calling ahead I'd be late and why (the crash was reported on radio and TV so they knew I wasn't making things up) they told me on arrival they'd not hire me for being late to the interview...
The manager didn't have time for you or he picked someone else or the job req was cancelled and he had an excuse not to go through the motions of a pointless interview.

2. Or the time I went to an interview and when coming back home found a rejection letter posted 2 days earlier. The interviewer had actually been quite positive and said he'd recommend I'd be hired. Either he didn't know about the letter or he'd lied in my face stonecold.
She was assigned to screen-interview you but she wasn't the real decision maker. HR sent you the letter and didn't bother to tell her the job was filled or closed.

3. Or what about an interviewer just keeping on asking ever more small pointless questions (about ever more obscure little technical details) until I couldn't answer one and abruptly ended the interview. I never heard back from them...
Most likely, he just didn't like you but needed an excuse. Or, as I sometimes did, he wanted to see how you attacked a question you didn't know the answer to. One of my favorites - "If you were Bill [Gates|Joy], what would you put in the next release of [Windows|Solaris]". It may be an unfair question, but it's a way to observe you thinking in real time.

4. Or the one where I probably wasn't hired for being unfamiliar with the favourite IDE of the interviewer (the rest went well).
She just didn't really like you or that IDE has some really complex features that happen to be important in her shop and she has found the learning curve to be more than a few days.


One more interview story:
I had a boss many years ago who, during the interview, would get into a chat about college and mention his SAT scores. The applicant would usually mention his SAT scores. That was all my boss wanted, he was screening for high IQ applicants. In this case, he was out to trick you.
Dmitry Melnik
Ranch Hand

Joined: Dec 18, 2003
Posts: 328
Interviewer: "What are your weaknesses?"
Interviewee: "I have no weaknesses. I am always right and never make
mistakes. I always get the job done right."


...and that's a serious weakness BTW
Jeroen Wenting
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 12, 2000
Posts: 5093
Originally posted by Dmitry Melnik:
Interviewer: "What are your weaknesses?"
Interviewee: "I have no weaknesses. I am always right and never make
mistakes. I always get the job done right."


...and that's a serious weakness BTW


yes, overconfidence
Warren Dew
blacksmith
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 04, 2004
Posts: 1332
    
    2
Mike Gershman:

She was assigned to screen-interview you but she wasn't the real decision maker. HR sent you the letter and didn't bother to tell her the job was filled or closed.

Which might be an indication that it wouldn't be a good place to work. Can you imagine being the interviewer, spending half a day preparing for, doing, and writing up the interview, getting real enthusiastic about the candidate, going back to HR and telling them "hey, this guy is really great, we should really hire him!" and HR tells you, "oh, we sent him a rejection letter two days ago."
r phipps
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 14, 2004
Posts: 60
I dont think i would want to work for them anyway, if they all that is important to them is a high IQ. There are a lot of other important things about doing a job than a high IQ. Don't get me wrong there in nothing wrong with a high IQ, i just don't think it is the most important thing about a person.
 
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