Saturday, June 14, 2008

On Friday afternoon I did something I really hate doing. I interviewed for a job.

When I graduated from college, I interviewed with around 25 of the tech companies that came through campus to look for new employees. Every single one of them rejected me. Since then I've had better luck, but the overwhelming rejection I received back in college was somewhat scarring, so I get pretty stressed out before a job interview. However, my friend Liz had an opening on her team for a job that sounded interesting enough to make it worth the stress. Larry and Pablo also work there, so it sounded like a pleasant environment, maybe one nice enough to give up the perk of working from home every day.

So, I spent a few nights last week generally panicking. I reviewed some basic computer science stuff, practiced solving problems on a white board, and spent many horrible hours laying in bed with my brain busy conceiving of every possible thing that could go wrong during the process. They included:
  • I fail to answer any questions correctly and out myself as an idiot to my friends
  • I embarrass Liz, Larry, and Pablo and they are outed as people with idiot friends
  • I succeed at the interview, get offered the job, take it, and hate my new life
  • I succeed at the interview, turn down the job, and watch from the sidelines as the company creates world peace, unseats Google, harnesses the power of dilithium crystals, and offers Blow Job Fridays.
And most realistically
  • I make a dick joke during the interview, causing a cascading series of sexual harassment lawsuits which destroy the company and financial future of Liz, Larry, and Pablo.
The odds that something good would come of this process seemed slim, but I soldiered on. Meanwhile Liz and Pablo peppered me with advice about the interview process including one important piece of information.

"Don't try to fake your way through any of the questions," one of them suggested, "The people here are pretty good at spotting fakers, so just admit what you don't know."

Admitting my ignorance? I don't mean to brag or sound full of myself here, but I am REALLY REALLY GOOD, like world class good, at admitting my ignorance. This is one of my core competencies. So, when the interviews began, I pulled out that trick at every opportunity.

Chief Technical Officer: So, on your previous project did you consider using Complex Technique X?
Me: Nope. Never occurred to me.
CTO: What about Complex Analysis Y or Complex Approach Z?
Me: No and no. Those sound like really good ideas though.

So far so good.

CTO: Tell me what you know about Bayesian analysis.
Me: You first.
CTO: Oh, I'm just interested in hearing what you know about it.
Me: I'm pretty sure I could spell it, but that's about it.

2 for 2!

CTO: What do you see your days being like working here?
Me: I guess I'd have to wear pants.

As you can see, the interview went very smoothly. I'm sure it helped that I forgot to wear a belt and that my resume listed the wrong name for my current company. It's the little touches and attention to detail that impress a potential employer.

On the plus side, I didn't make any dick jokes.


The Illustrious Ms E said...

I have tremendous sympathy for you, since I am going through the interview gauntlet myself right now...Don't even look at the Monster or Hot Jobs interview help articles, because they just scare you with stories of those bizarre questions interviewers come up with..."If you could be any kind of tree, which would you be?" etc


Sue said...

Ah, c'mon. It couldn't have been that bad!

Did they ask you pointless logic questions that will never apply to the position? My hubby gets that a lot.

Good luck! They're crazy if they don't snap you up.

Mike said...

Ms E., too late. I put myself in a good tizzy last week by googling around for interview advice.

Sue, those are near verbatim quotes from my interview. I did, of course, leave out the bulk of the conversations, which went pretty well, but still. And, I've been to plenty of interviews where they just wanted to see if I could spot the trick answer to a puzzle, but thankfully this company is much more reasonable.

chess h said...

No dick jokes? You're probably hired already.

Avery Gray said...

I'd hire you! And, lucky for you, we do offer Blow Job Fridays. Of course, you'll have to discuss the scheduling with my husband. He's very busy on Fridays, but I'm sure he'll find the time to fit you in.


Mike said...

Avery, that's a very generous offer. Careful what you let that husband of yours do though. You know what they say: Once you go Jew, you never go back.

Mya said...

If you want the job, I'm sure you'll get it. Good luck! For me, things usually start going pear-shaped when the criminal record can of worms is prised open.

Mya x

Mike said...

Chess, sounds like you'd be a good interviewer.

Mya, well THAT sounds like a good story!

Ms.PhD said...

Well, as a fellow many-times rejectee, your story gives me hope that I may someday interview for something and maybe even get an offer.

Here's hoping it's not at a place that celebrates Blow Job Fridays. I'd rather be unemployed, but that's just because it wouldn't benefit me in the slightest.

Mike said...

Ms.PhD , you don't need a job! You've got a PhD and a boffo blog! I get more spillover traffic from your blog than anywhere else (not counting Google).

But, just to reassure you, I haven't found a workplace with BJ Friday's yet, although I have high hopes for the brothels.