Re: Interview questions

Subject: Re: Interview questions
From: "Susan W. Gallagher" <sgallagher -at- EXPERSOFT -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 20 Feb 1997 13:26:50 -0800

Sabahat Ashraf wrote:
>I am not trying to be cheeky -- honest.

>Why not ask these questions outright? What with us TW's telling everyone, each
>other, and ourselves, ad nauseaum [did I get that right?] to say what we mean
>and all ... This is a serious question. My response to a question like that is
>usually "In what regard? Financially, Socially, professionally ... what?"
>Translation: What do you really want to ask me, <insert indulgent age-specific
>epithet of choice>?
[snip]
>PS My sister-in-law's favourite response to the question in question is one I
>have not heard on this list yet [I think]: "On the other side of the table."

And someone else said "I expect to have *your* job..."

There are two points I want to make here. First, yes, the "in 5 years"
question is vague. It's supposed to be. I want your ideas, I want to
see what's inside your brain. I don't want to spoonfeed you specific
questions and have you supply rehearsed answers, I want some insight
into your personality as well as some insight as to how you view the
industry and the job at hand. Asking for clarification is certainly
acceptable. Giving a smart answer is not. If you *do* have aspirations
toward management, there are better ways to say it.

And that brings me to the second point I want to make, and that is,
if I've called you in for an interview, I probably already have a clue
that you can handle the job duties. If I didn't think you were qualified,
you wouldn't be sitting in my office talking to me. Now I need to see how
you'll fit in here -- whether you can take direction from me, whether you
can coax info out of the programmers here and still remain on good terms
with them, whether you'll join in with company activities or not... There's
a long list. Smarta** answers and an arrogant attitude won't do anything to
win you the job here.

So, yeah, maybe I'm a little vague and you come back to me with a question.
My mental note is "good at digging for information". Or you come back with a pretty good answer and I think you give a lot of thought to your
profession and your career goals. Aternatively, you come back with a
wisecrack answer and my mental note is "gets snippy under pressure" or
"has problems with authority" or some such thing. Interview over,
thankeuwverymuch, we'll be making up our minds soon, we'll call you.

And when you're gone, I ask myself if I need your skills badly enough to
put up with you.

Certainly there are times to blow an interview. I've done it myself. I've
even walked out of a few. A bad fit is a bad fit on both sides of the fence
and the interviewee has just as much right/responsibility to make that
decision as the interviewer. Just recognize when you do it and *why* you're
doing it. Don't expect me to come crawling because you think you're too good
to work here. It just ain't gonna happen.


Susan W. Gallagher Manager, Technical Publications
sgallagher -at- expersoft -dot- com Expersoft Corporation, San Diego CA
http://www.expersoft.com

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