Friday, March 18, 2005

Job Interviews CAN be fun!

I was at a job interview yesterday, but since I was 90% sure I didn’t want to work for this company it was very low-pressure. Amazing how calm you can be when you’re facing something that has no realistic chance of working out. Anyway, this was a very interesting interview, and here’s how it went.

I met first with the HR rep, who not only asked me the same old out-of-the-book questions, but she asked them off a photocopied form. See, I didn’t even rate my own form. I have glowing letters of reference from my last two employers, but when I handed them over she didn’t even glance at them, finding the letters handier as scratch paper. Yep…she used ‘em to take notes. Another interviewer might have found it useful to review the written commentary of previous employers, but this one really needed scratch paper. Clearly, I was simply Candidate #7, which was OK with me as that’s often the treatment you get from the HR folks. It was brief, which was the best I could ask for the HR portion of the interview.

I was then interviewed by the department head, who had neat purple-tinged hair, big ol’ fish eyes, and an expression that would have made the Sphinx seem smiley. As you might remember from one of my previous posts, the Sphinx is a type of interviewer, and she certainly resembled one, but this one was actually closer in demeanor to the Adversary. She asked me some common trip-you-up sort of questions, most of which I’d heard before, although she did get me on one. I recovered fairly well, I thought, and then she asked if I had questions for her. At that point, something subtle and wicked came over me, something I’d never previously experienced. I knew by then I didn’t want this job, but I decided that I was going to make this bitch sweat. So I asked questions:

“What qualities does the ideal candidate for this position possess?”

This was just a setup, to lull her into a false sense of security. Then I went on to:

“Is this a new position? If not, what happened to the previous project editor?”

This is where she began to get uncomfortable, and, sensing blood, I pressed on:

“On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the least stress and 10 being the most stress, what level of stress do you think the project editor experiences, on average?”

I hit home on this one, as evidenced by the nervous laugh the question elicited. She recovered pretty well, I’ll give her that, but I wasn’t finished. Oh no.

“You said previously that the project editor would not report to you, but to one of your staff. How would you describe that person’s management philosophy?”

She flubbed this one by admitting that the person in question was a demanding perfectionist, something you never want to admit to a potential employee. While she lamely tried to cover this gaffe, I lunged for the kill:

“What advice would you offer the new project editor on his or her first day on the job?”

She stammered out something fairly flat, and made obvious moves to end the interview by gathering up papers, picking up her pen, etc. I considered toasting her a bit longer, but I decided to let it go. After all, a victory is as good as a massacre, right?

On second thought…a victory may be as good as a massacre, but massacres are still fun, and I'm sorry I passed up this one. Maybe they’ll call me back for a second interview...

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