Thursday, July 31, 2008

Please, Don’t Hurt ‘Em Hammer

*Can I tell you how embarrassed I am at having to Google MC Hammer to get the name of his famous album for the title of this post? On the embarrassment range, my current level is at “Can’t Touch This” which is somewhere beyond “You should have never admitted this publicly” but just short of “You shouldn’t leave the house until the shame dies down.”*

As I have mentioned here I was unemployed over the winter. I left my last job on October 4th, and did not start my current job until June 9th. In that span of, what, seven months I went on tons of job interviews. I was averaging at least an interview a week either on the phone or in person, while most interviews were normal, some of them were these wacky experiences that I couldn’t possibly write about here but was dying to. Of course I couldn’t write about any of that here for fear that a prospective employer would read it and I wouldn’t get hired. But now that I’ve been hired I can share with you some of the experiences I’ve had while interviewing.

After I got home from every interview I would call Todd when I got home and he’d ask how it went. There were a few occasions that I would simply say “Oh, now that was a complete waste of lipstick.” The first of these happened last fall. I’ve gotten quite adept at cranking up my crap filter and weeding through the postings that just look fishy—you know the ones that say something like “Make a kajillion dollars working from home sampling chocolate and petting puppies.” But occasionally one will slip by my crap filter’s goalie and will actually look legit but really be a crap job. So I got all dressed up, slapped on some lipstick, printed out a clean copy of the resume and headed in to get interviewed.

I’ve been to many interviews over the course of my career at which I am interviewed by more than one person at the same time. I like to call these “Interrogation style” interviews. In this scenario the interviewers are sitting on one side of the table, while I am alone on the other. They fire questions at me in a very well orchestrated manner that ends up feeling like an interrogation, but all that is missing is a bright light and a crime. Last fall I went into an interview that was the exact opposite of the interrogation style interview. Instead of two interviewers interviewing me at the same time, the hiring manager was interviewing two candidates at the same time—myself and another woman. In all the interviews I’d ever been on, I never experienced this. Of course I viewed it as a competition, and knew that I needed to up my game so I could have outshined the other candidate.

Interviewer: So, tell me about yourselves.

Other Candidate: Well, I am 35, I am a single mom. I just went through a divorce, and I live in Snarglepuss, RI… (At this point I was surprised she didn’t say “I am a Gemini, I like pina coladas and getting caught in the rain…”)

Interviewer: (facing me) How about you?

Beej: Let’s see… I have a Masters degree in marketing communications from (insert name of bitchen’ grad program here) I have 12 years of marketing experience, primarily online but I’ve done some PR and lots of project management… blah blah blah.

The interview went on, and then the hiring manager pulled the bait and switch. The position was actually a door to door sales position. But the way it was worded in the ad, and in the pre-screen interview on the phone, that was not made evident. The Gemini-pina-colada lady was fired up about selling this company’s product door to door. Not only was it a door-to-door sales job, it was also a “And when you become a director of a sales group in your region, you’ll get a percentage of the commission for every sale your group members make,” scheme, which was what got Gemini-pina-colada lady fired up. I could just see the wheels turning in her head “OMG! I am going to make money even when I am not working! WOW!!!” I, on the other hand, was less than amused by the idea. I stood up, thanked the interviewer for his time, wished Gemini-pina-colada lady luck, and left the office irritated that my time had been wasted.

Months later I went on another interview with a different company—an impossibly large corporate office for an insurance company. I went into the interview, which was conducted interrogation style. I answered all the standard questions “What are your strengths and weaknesses? Describe your best boss and your worst boss? Do you prefer to work in a group or independently?”

Then toward the end of the interview the hiring manager said, “This next question is one I always save for the end. I like to call this one ‘the hammer.’” He went on to describe this question as ridiculously impossible to answer, I began to get a bit nervous and wondered if he was going to ask me something ridiculous like “What is the square root of 4,893,535?”

“OK, are you ready for the hammer?” he asked.

“Sure,” I let out the breath I’d been holding.

“OK, here goes,” he cleared his throat for dramatic effect. “Why should I hire you?”

“Um,” taken back at the let down of the overly dramatic buildup of this ridiculously simple question, and resisted the urge to actually say “That’s it? That’s the big hammer?” and then laugh in the guy’s face.

So there you have it. The hammer.



Blogger Unknown said...

I hate interviewing!! I had to do it so many times before I got hired at the school I work in now. The interrogation style is by far the worst.

July 31, 2008 at 4:19 PM  
Blogger *~*Cece*~* said...

I haven't gone on a job interview in almost 9 years so I'm a bit rusty. Lets just hope, with our current corporate changes, I won't be going on one for another 9 years!

July 31, 2008 at 5:30 PM  
Blogger BJ Knapp said...

I'll be that in my lifetime I've been on over 100 job interviews. Seriously.

August 1, 2008 at 10:34 AM  
Blogger BJ Knapp said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

August 1, 2008 at 10:34 AM  

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