Re: Interview from hell

Subject: Re: Interview from hell
From: "Steven J. Owens" <puff -at- NETCOM -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 2 Jun 1999 13:07:10 -0700

Richard Braden writes:
> William J. Wolfe wrote:
> "I think many hiring decisions are made based on "gut
> feel" and intangible qualities which are hard to
> explain/justify."
> A agree, and therein lies the frustration. Candidates are not selected on
> measureable, pertinent skills and experience. They are selected on whims -
> another element of our highly dysfunctional corporate invironments.

I have mixed feelings on this.

I went through a pretty rough interview several years back -
rough on me. I spent a day - a solid 8 hours - being shuttled non-stop
from interviewer to interviewer. A half an hour to an hour with each
one, being grilled on various issues and dimensions of the job, then
off to another interviewer just as rapport started to develop. Lunch
spent with three or four interviewers.

I thought performed pretty well.

I'd had an inside track - a friend had left the company just
weeks earlier and I'd grilled her pretty thoroughly, by voice and by
email, on what the company was like, what they did.

It was a job documenting software developer tools, which is what
I had spent the previous three years doing.

I aced the phone interview - I asked all of the questions and
covered the ground so thoroughly that the interviewer decided to fly
me out for a face-to-face interview by the end of the conversation.
(I have since made that my chief interviewing technique, using my
brief journalism background and my SME-interviewing experience to
turn the interview situation around and interview the interviewer).

The hour I spent with a senior programmer, going over a couple
pages of a programming language reference and discussing how specific
nuances of the text could be disastrous from a programmer's point
of view, seemed to go very well.

By the time I left their office (to drive straight to the airport
and a flight back across the continent to my current job the next day)
I was exhausted but I was pretty sure I'd get an offer.

A week later, after a few rounds of voice mail tag, the
interviewer told me one of their more senior writers had just left the
company and they had to replace them before they hired somebody at my

Abou half a year ago, it came to light that one of the folks in
my circle of friends was an employee at that company during the
interview stage. Reportedly I wasn't hired because I was "creepy."

I can appreciate that there are subtle and difficult-to-articulate
interpersonal nuances to adding a new member to a team. In my first
professional tech writing job, we had the good fortune to slowly build our
tech writing department a person at a time. Our boss had us vet each
prospective hire both for skills and for "chemistry". I like to think
we were a *little* more, uhm, considered and careful than to shoot somebody
down because they were "creepy."

Steven J. Owens
puff -at- netcom -dot- com

From ??? -at- ??? Sun Jan 00 00:00:00 0000=

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