Because of my recent job search, I have been avoiding
certain topics that have been irritating me. And because of
this avoidance, I've found it difficult to find other topics
to write about. So, while I search for another theme or subject
matter I still know that deep in my soul, there is a festering
tumor of an issue dying for me to gripe about it. SO, without
A cleanly shaven man comes into a small, cramped room, decorated only with two small folding chairs and a makeshift conference table. He has on a decent tie, polished shoes and a well-pressed suit. As he sits in the chair, awaiting his next job interview, he becomes painfully aware that the chair is two sizes too small and that the last occupant left their gum on the underside. Taking a deep breath, he wonders what will come through the door.
The Human Resources Bureaucrat
HR people come in two varieties; Amazing and Worthless Pile of Steaming Dung. They are either the most helpful people in the organization, or blithe bungling boils that inflate their egos with the powers that have been granted them by the corporation. Unfortunately for these sordid folk, the job interview is their playground. If you're not ready to play by their rules and suck on their milky teats, you can kiss the job goodbye.
You can usually spot these people right from the get go. They have their "All Business" look - fixed upon their faces while they read some fuddy-duddy financial report that marketing worked up for the annual report. Although they've read these numbers and text hundreds of times, and sound very impressive with the large vocabulary words, they "appear to know" - it becomes quite obvious that they don't have a clue what any of it means. They recite the text to impress you and to let you know how "knowledgeable" they are about the company. And while they appear to ask you about your past work experience they never actually get to any meat and potatoes. In truth, they have no idea what you actually do for your job. As soon as you strike on any details of your work or happen to use specific jargon related to your field of work, their faces glaze over with paranoia. They change the subject to some type of interpersonal experience and are usually more interested with the negative parts of you, your character and past work experiences than seeing if you are truly qualified for the position. They almost always keep to the derogatory line of questions.
Note: It is on the rare occasion that you will meet the Amazing
HR people. However, if you do find yourself in the presence of one,
appreciate it. You will know them by the Halo above their head,
the bounce in their step, the quality of their handshake, and the
offers for beverages and bathroom breaks. (Always accept these things,
not to be greedy, but to understand that these might be the last
things you get from the company. And, a dirty bathroom can be more
telling about an employer than the interview itself.)
What on Earth are you hoping to gather with this line questioning? "What type of things irritate you in a work place?" "How have you handled job disappointment in your past jobs?" "What was the worse thing that has happened to you regarding work and how did you keep the company from shame?" - I mean - come on. So you want to know how I handle stress? Ok, fine. Lets talk about situations. Lets talk about day-to-day task management. Lets bring up the bullshit of a daily work environment of past jobs that I obviously didn't want anymore, anyway, and see why I probably wasn't good enough to even be employed there. Yeah, that's a great way to start the interview. But, while we're at it, let's talk about how your company tries to alleviate the daily grind, inner-office political crap and how your management structure is fully prepared to make competent decisions and is willing and able to accept the responsibility that that incurs.
Lets be honest here. What you're really saying by starting with that type of question is; We're a company that has had a problem with pushing our staff to hard. They work long hours for mediocre pay and upper management either A) Doesn't have a clue about the middle-manager Nazi staff - or B) Has no plans of changing it in the future. So, if you're coming to work for us, we have to make sure you like big spoonfuls of crap flakes for breakfast and have no dreams of changing our "way of doing things."
Then there are the people you rush you through. The company is moving and growing so fast that they don't even have time to think about hiring someone. Somebody got lucky and posted the want ad over their lunch break, but now that they actually have to interview people they're lost. They have had no time to arrange a real meeting with you, and they make up their interview questions on the fly. You never discover anything of substance about them and they were to busy telling you about their casual work environment and "summer hours" to actually learn anything about you. You are usually in and out of their office in 30 minutes. Then they hire from within, promoting Candy (from the front desk) and get a temp to fill the receptionist spot.
The Big Talkers
"Listen kid, I've seen it all, done it all - been all before. We're a big firm with big ideas. You think you've been there - you don't know shit. Our company was founded on a dream, and we made that dream a reality with hard work, sweat, spit and polish. You should feel blessed just being called here for an interview. Blah Blah Blah - B.S. B.S." They are the blowhards. They have a tough job and they make it harder every day with their eat cars - spit nails - negative attitude. They size you up by intimidating you. Some of them think you cut the mustard if you can stand up to their crap and call them on it. Others are only interested in the people who cower from their thunder. You can never tell which way these types will fall. They have high opinions of themselves and their minds and tempers are like firestorms. They can be inspiring to work with, but mostly they are just a big pain in the ass.
The Not So Equal Opportunity Employer
These are the types, that whether they want to admit it to themselves or not, have already made up their mind about filling the position. Thy have their candidate and you aren't it. So, when you come in, after making your three, four, or five hour drive down to see them, you have your time wasted with discussions about your drive, the weather, and the upcoming little league game - followed by a brief discussion about the company and a handshake. Sure, one could chalk these up to experience, but if I'm going to be jerked off by a stranger, I like to know in advance. (And with lotion!)
Employers who test are usually associated with the HR Bureaucrats. (See Above) It is my firm belief, that since these people are inept at their job, they decide to show a display of effort by having their applicants run through some hamster wheel. I have never once found one (A test) appropriate to the position I was applying to. Especially not when the HR rep throws an IQ test my way, explaining, "Everyone here has had to take one." Listen honey, if everyone here has had to take one, let me take one after you hire me. Until then, don't waste your time and mine. While I would like to believe your company is an equal opportunity employer for people with IQ's over 180 - I realize that they also hired you. So drop the IQ tests, the basic math skills tests, the graphic designers competency tests and the urine tests. If someone's lying on their resume, it will come out through the interview. If you are any kind of competent manager, you should be able to smell the bullshit a mile away.
The same goes with the job application. I know that a job application has a lot of vital statistics on it; Date of Birth, Medical Emergency Contacts, Home Address… But does an employer really need all of this information to ask me questions about my resume? All of the information they need can be found there. (work experience, job titles, past employers) And according to their ad/rejection letter, "We'll keep your resume on file for the next 12-24 months to review for future job openings." (Yeah - RIGHT!) But if that IS true - why would you want to keep duplicate files? Doesn't that take up twice as much space? And more cost? Let's be honest, the only reason they have you fill those little babies out is for the two little questions: Salary History & Salary Requirements. They're too afraid to ask you about it up front, so they sneak it in the back door. Sure, they mask it with the whole "we need it for our files in case we are audited" crap, but the little section that the government is requesting, is optional.
So basically what I'm trying to say is - and only to the people who are getting on my nerves is - What's the matter, didn't your mother love you enough as a child? Well - no, what I really mean is, yes, job interviewing is an important part of being an employer. But you aren't the only one interviewing. The little guy, who asked to work for you, is also scrutinizing every little part of what you do. Sizing up your company and seeing if the two of you can be friends. So, while you approached by the little guy, didn't you place an ad for more friends? Be nice, be cordial. Find out more about the applicant than what their "Dream Job" is - or with some cutesy, wacky question like "If you could be an animal, what would it be?" Take some time to find out about the person. Their family, their relationships with friends. Personal hobbies and the kegger they lost their virginity at. Pretend your Barbara Walters. Because, if you really want to know what they'll be like in your office, you will have to look further than, "So, at company X you did Y - how'd you like that?" The answer lies in the deeper questions. The questions that take time. I know this means you might actually have to show some small, human side of yourself, and that can be tough - but you'll get a better employee out of it. And it will start the relationship between your company and your new employee off to a better start. Honesty, like honey, attracts a better worker bee.
Free donuts are cool too.
*Look for Mr. Sweeney's article "More reasons why I haven't been writing." later this week... or maybe not.
**The opinions expressed in Weekly Commentary are those of Mr. Sweeney and his alone. Any attempt at finding sanity or logic in his rantings are feeble, at best.