Thursday, April 17, 2008

Getting to know you

I had a fair number of interviews in my life. Every time I interviewed, I got asked the following 7 questions, and always wondered if there were anyone on the face of the earth who answered those honestly. And since people interviewing me were also interviewed at some point to get their position, didn’t they know that they are being fed PC BS? Why bother then asking these questions? Can’t guys in HR come up with something more creative and less conducive to lying? Just once in my life I would like to go on the interview where I really don’t care about the outcome and give them real answers. And then tape interviewer’s reaction.

So here’s the list of questions and answers, both politically correct (PC) and real, but never said out loud, at least by healthy people. Real answers are not necessarily representative of my views, just something that is reasonably unexpected to hear during an interview.

So here it is:

Q: Where do you see yourself five years from now?
PCAnswer (PCA): I hope to be a productive and invaluable member of your team and contribute to the well-being and advancement of your department and organization.
Real Answer (RA): (If one is career-oriented) Worst-case scenario: I get your job. Best-case scenario: I become your boss. Most likely scenario: I move on to something much, much better.
(If one is not career-oriented) I hope to not get fired for falling asleep on the job, hope that in five years my medical insurance will still cover a decent portion of my medical costs and my teenage daughter won’t make me a grandparent.
(For family-oriented folks) I hope to have two or three (more) children and expect you to cover my maternity/paternity leave, give me flex time, accommodate my every request and still promote me.

Q: What does your desk look like?
PCA: It is reasonably clean and organized by files in alphabetical order.
RA: I haven’t seen the surface of my desk in about two years, but I think it was brown or black…wait, maybe cherry oak?

Q: What is your biggest strength?
PCA: I am goal-oriented, I get things done no matter what, I have never missed a deadline, blah, blah, blah…
RA: I am smart.
Alternatively: I am very pretty and not averse to dating my boss.

Q: What is your biggest weakness?
PCA: (Do not reveal your actual weakness, even if under duress or physically/psychologically tortured. The trick is to say that you are so good, it’s bad.) It is hard for me to leave the task half-done; I am perfectionist; I am too punctual or too organized. (You can actually admit to the following, unless applying for managerial position.) It is hard for me to delegate, but I am working on it.
RA: There are so many that if I listed all, we would have to order in dinner. However, I am so smart, that you would be willing to overlook all of those.
Alternatively: Excessive flatulence and overactive bladder.

Q: What is your biggest accomplishment?
PCA: I worked on three projects simultaneously and finished them all in time. Afterward, I got an award/bonus/promotion/thank you from the boss for my hard work.
RA: Being able to multi-task. More specific? Being able to blog, pay my bills, make doctor’s appointments, talk to teachers, do on-line shopping, be in touch with my friends and family during work hours AND get my job responsibilities done.
Alternatively: Not falling asleep during the budget meeting.

Q: What is your ultimate career goal?
PCA: Become CFO or whatever is the highest title out there in your field.
RA: Winning the Oscar. (Huh?) Yes, my ultimate goal is to a write a book that becomes a best-seller and ultimately makes it to the big screen, and I get to win the best book-to –screen and screenplay award. If that doesn’t work out, then winning the Oscar for my poignant performance in the movie about the every day struggles of fat women. And then snubbing the Oscar award ceremony to protest Hollywood’s promotion of eating disorders and amoral and unhealthy life styles.

Q: Do you have any questions for me?
PCA: Is there a limit on unpaid overtime you are allowed to work?
RA: 1) Are you hard to work for?
2) Why should I work for you?
3) Do you give free coffee to employees?
4) Are you as boring as you sound?
5) What happened in your childhood to make you love accounting that much?
6) Who told you that this comb over looks good? And what’s up with that tie?

If you answer honestly, though, do not be surprised if the interviewer tells you this:
PC: Well, it was a pleasure meeting you and good luck in your job search.
And what he really would want to say, but can’t because he has to be PC: OMG! Get out, NOW! I hope to never see you again, psycho!

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