Harebrained is my Middle Name

During my career make-over, I've been using the Knock 'em Dead series of job-search books and have found them to be mostly helpful. I wouldn't copy any of the sample resumes or cover letters word-for-word, but they're good to generate ideas about content and for answers to questions about formatting. The Knock 'em Dead book about interviewing contained some good advice and reminders, too. Don't forget to smile. Don't forget to breathe. Don't smell. Don't ask about salary and benefits and sick days at the first meeting. And so on.

But a lot of what was in the book horrified me.

The sample questions in the book range from those that are simply ridiculous to ones that verge on hostility. Rate yourself on a scale of one to ten. In hindsight, what have you done that was a little harebrained? What would you say if I told you your presentation this afternoon was lousy? They're designed to throw you off balance, trip you, and expose your weaknesses while you lay helpless on the ground. But what's worse is that the book gives you all the answers, which you are supposed to recite whether or not they are true.

So, for example, if the interviewer asks you what sports you play, you are supposed to say you love all team sports. If you can't bring yourself to say that, the next best thing is to say that you enjoy duration sports such as long-distance running. Apparently, you are not supposed to say that sometimes you fall down for no discernible reason whatsoever.

I wouldn't want to work for anyone who would point to a yellow highlighter and say, "Sell me this pen." (That's an actual example from the book. And it's not just a question asked of candidates for sales positions.) And I wouldn't want to be the kind of person who would recite the sales pitch that they read in a book the night before.

An interview is hard enough without adding lies to the mix. And a scripted exchange in which both sides are testing and posturing and basically play-acting couldn't possibly result in finding the best candidate for the job or the best job for the candidate.

Yesterday I interviewed for an editorial position at a publishing company. The interview lasted three hours and I met with five different people. No one asked me to sell them a pen or asked what sports I play or tried to trick me into revealing my personal and professional weaknesses (not that I have any).

They did ask thoughtful questions that were clearly designed to test not just whether or not I'd be a good addition to their company, and whether or not I would do my job well, but whether or not I'd be happy there, if would be challenged and if I would be interested in growing with the company.

And that alone answered every question I had about working for them.


Robert said...

Fingers crossed you get it. I know what it's like to live on savings for a couple of months too long.

Alicia said...

I was recently asked, "What do your co-workers like best about you and what do they not like about you?" Oh man, I was so tempted to say something stupid like, "I pick my nose during meetings". Somehow I think that would have ruined my chances.

Good luck! Here's hoping we both hear some good news soon.

Gienna said...

Ooh, I *always* think of fresh answers to interview questions. That's a good one, AB.

If anyone ever asked me to rate myself on a scale of one to ten I would love to say "eleven." Or "sixty-nine." See, now that would be funny. I like thinking about answers to that old "greatest weakness" question, too. There are about a million possibilities.

And thanks, Robert (and everyone) for your positive thoughts. I really do appreciate it.