TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
Subject:Re: Fun Interview Stories From:Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com> Date:Thu, 21 Aug 2003 19:31:11 -0700
Over the last eight years, I've contracted or been employed by thirty
companies. That means that I've probably interviewed at over a hundred.
So, I probably have the dubious distinction of having more interview
experience than most people on the list. This thread has reminded me of
some of the good and the bad ones:
- I'm in a suit. It's a hot, humid day, and I'm counting the minutes
until I can get the tie off and into a pair of shorts. The interviewer
shuffles in wearing sandals so old that they're turned black. He's got
on a ripped T-shirt and ragged cutoffs, and part of his last meal is
still in his beard. He leans back in his chair, and puts his feet up on
the desk. I'm less than a yard away, and his feet are literally caked
with dirt. I can see his toe nails, and they are long and filthy. I can
also see and smell something on his shoes that wouldn't get past the
spam filters if I gave its proper name.
- I follow the interviewer up a narrow staircase to the office. We pass
through what I can only describe as a cubicle gulag, with partitions
taller than the cubicles are wide, and about a meter of space down the
main aisle. We enter the meeting room, and, before we sit down, the
interviewer immediately asks to see my portfolio. He stands as though
getting too close to the portfolio might endanger his health, and starts
flipping pages over with a sneer on his face. I try to start some
conversation about the contents, but he cuts off each remark with an
abrupt reply, and the little he does say shows that he has a very
half-baked idea of layout. After about five minutes, I mutter that I
have to leave, snatch my portfolio, and walk out after the briefest of
courtesies. As soon as I'm around the corner, I phone the recruiter who
sent me, and tell her tha there is now way that I will work for this
person. She tells me that he just phoned and wants me in for another
interviewer, so I guess I passed some sort of sophomoric test, but,
needless to say, I don't feel flattered.
- I arrive at the interview, only to discover that I'll be talking to
three people separately. Not only does each one ask questions that the
other one asked, but each interview is over 90 minutes long. By the last
one, I can barely talk above a whisper - then I have to go teach for
four hours in the evening. I have to dismiss the class early because
I've lost my voice. I later learn that I didn't get the job. just as
well, since an arch-enemy works there, but I'm steamed just the same.
- The interviewer has no idea what to say or how to say it. I try to be
patient, but her nervousness is starting to make me nervous, too. As
tactfully as possible, I start making suggestions about what she should
ask next, then answering my own questions. I end up explaining what
should happen next. Later, I hear that she has used my suggestions while
interviewing other candidates.
- As I sit down in the interviewer's office, I notice a playground for
cockatiels. After we shake hands, I ask the interviewer if he has birds.
He does, and so do I. We spend the next half hour exchanging cute bird
stories, then realize that we haven't said a thing about the job. We
exchange a few sentences, and I walk out hired.
- While doing an interview for a journalistic piece, I hear that a
company is hiring on the other side of North America from me. The person
I'm interviewing promises to pass along my resume. He does, and I talk
with the company over the phone a few days later for twenty minutes. I
hang up with my largest contract ever.
- A company calls me for an interview. I've never heard of the company,
and haven't applied to it, but I agree to come in. It gradually leaks
out in the interview that the company owners are starting another
company to which I did reply. After ten minutes, the interviewer notes
that we seem to get along, and that it must be "God's will" that we met.
Abruptly, I find myself hired.