I have had a few interviews lately.
I really dislike having them, although I am not nervous or uneasy about them, in fact quite the opposite, I am rather comfortable in an interview situation. However, I do not like the whole ‘play the game’ thing that interviews usually entail. In my opinion, an interview is for the interviewer to get to know the ‘real you’ and to then work out from there if this person is suited to work in the environment that the job requires.
For example, person shows up to an interview, suit, tie, shirt and shined shoes. He proceeds to talk about all of the corporate clients he has worked with, and the amount of money he has dealt with at various firms. However, the job is for a casual, laid-back studio, dealing mostly with musicians, or perhaps it is more of a casual design firm that does not deal with corporate clients at all. To me, this person would not be suited for this environment.
That said, if the person being interviewed had been themselves during the interview process, it may have been mentioned that he was a musician, and is actually in a band, and listens to a bunch of indie artists that no one has ever heard of. Now this person would fit into the role mentioned.
But no, interviews, although meant to show ‘the real you’ is all about ‘playing the game’ and giving the answers that the interviewer wants to hear, which may not necessarily be the truth, or the whole truth, but it will be more impressive, and could land the job. In one of my interviews recently, I was greeted with a clipboard and told to answer a list of specifics. Once done, I was ushered onto a computer to sit a ‘personality test’ that apparently I ‘could not pass or fail’. This consisted of me self-grading my work persona, and rating from 1-5, and in excess of 125 questions. To me, this seems like a bit of a lazy approach, as if they wanted to know any of this information, all they have to do is ask. A few simple questions can tell so much more about a person’s work ethic than a self-graded questionnaire…
Finally the interview commenced, in which I honestly didn’t do the best. I have had better interviews, and usually I am calm and rational. My problem today was simple. I am unwell, so I had taken some pseudoephedrine (Cold & Flu Medication) to make it through the interview without sneezing or coughing everywhere. This caused a few problems. Firstly, I did not ‘play the game’ as was expected of me.
When asked what attracted me to the job, I answered honestly with “Honestly, I have applied for about 75 jobs this week alone, and I could not answer that question without being broad and non-specific” Apparently what I should have said was “The description of this position drew me in, like a black hole of fortune, and I simply couldn’t resist clicking the Apply button, as this job is exactly what I am after, and without it, my life would be meaningless”.
When asked “What are you looking for in a job” I replied “A stable place of employment, with a stable income to help pay my bills”. Apparently what I SHOULD have said was “I want to build a career with this fantastic organisation, Stay with them until life loosens its grasp on me, and I drop from this mortal coil… This job would fulfil my life, make me complete… it would fulfil my every hope and dream in life.
When asked “What is your expected salary” I replied with my usual monetary answer (no figures here, folks!). What I should have said was “Pay? Well, I could only afford to pay you $500 a day to work for your lovely establishment, but could negotiate… oh, you meant me?? WOW! I never expected to take your money as well as hold the honour of working for your fine company!”
When asked “What industry experience do you have?” I answered with specifics, mentioning that this was all on my resume, sitting on the table between us. What I should have said was “Anything I have done in the past is irrelevant, compared with the exciting experience that potentially lies before me, in working for your wonderful company… I would brag about my work to my friends until they stopped talking to me, then I would move on to social networking, blindly bragging to all randoms that would listen to me talking about what a wonderful experience it is to be working for your establishment. You had better build a security fence, people will be knocking down doors to get a job here, once I am done bragging!”
Basically, it doesn’t matter what I say in the interview, because everyone, including the interviewer knows that the answers given do not reflect honestly on who the person is, and how they work in the real world, and more importantly, in the industry. I honestly do not care about the product or services that the company offer or sell. I am there to work, not to drool over the merchandise. To have someone there who was completely infatuated with the product would mean that they spent half of the productive time of the work day playing with the gadget or product, and not working. To get someone who understands the product, but doesn’t care about it is more productive, as they understand how it works, and why it works, therefore they can effectively complete designs relating to it, but because they do not care about it outside of a work environment, means that the time spent on designing will outweigh the time spent fiddling and playing with it.
For example, a while back now I did some Security work at the Formula 1 Grand Prix in Melbourne (for four years). I did not, and still do not care about F1 racing, so my time spent there was all about working, and working efficiently. I ejected numerous police officers (37 individuals in 4 days), contracted workers (at least 10 in 4 days) and even other security officers (15 in 4 days). All of them were breaking regulations, watching the cars and ignoring their role. All of them were warned repeatedly to get back to work. All refused. All were ejected, with their IDs being confiscated, effectively losing their job. Having no interest in the end service made me a much more efficient worker, as I was not distracted by the cars.
If the interviewers could see that a short, direct and honest answer is better than having the need to weed through an hour of fake answers to find the same information, the world would be a more efficient place.
And another thing… When requesting to see my folio, having me sort it, update it and bring it to the interview, the least the interviewer can do is ask to see it. However, some interviewers simply either don’t ask, don’t care (I had one a while ago, who thumbed through 3 pages, and closed it. An excellent way to give a designer a complex) or simply spend more time on asking about the specific length of time spent at a particular role from 6 years ago. (My resume has years, eg “Worked at ABC 2006-2007” with a short paragraph about my role and responsibilities there. Remembering exactly what month I began in 2005, and what exact month I ended in 2006 is not something that I remember much detail of, especially as I was working at numerous sites as a contractor, completing night work as a Security Guard or Crowd Controller between jobs, and that many of the roles on my resume had an overlap time… some for a few months.) I understand that they need to know this stuff, however exact dates from 6-7 years ago at the drop of a hat is not so easy. Especially as they had the resume on file for 3 weeks before the interview. A simple phone call could have meant that I could have worked this information out the night before, with the help of a calendar, and reading back through my blog for some clues.
In short, I am sick of the games I am told I should play, and the hoops I need to jump through to get a job. If I didn’t want it and was not prepared to do it, why would I bother applying in the first place?