Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Great Job Hunt (or, Request For Comments)

I realize that it's been a while since my last post, and as I haven't got anything queued up for funny right now, I thought I'd just post a topical sort of question related to my current situation.

As you're likely aware, I'm still looking for a job. (I'm also embarking on a possibly-lucrative-but-unprofitable-to-begin-with side project, but it won't make a dime for months, if ever.)

So, when one such as myself goes looking for work, one generally just looks online, reads job postings, emails a resume here, fills out a form there, and ends up with a tiny handful of calls, one or two recruiters who act like they'll find a job for you in no time flat (but never actually do it), and a moderate-sized handful of spam from getting suckered into sending contact information to Craigslist fake job posting ads that only want to gather the email addresses of people who are looking for jobs so they can sell it to spammers so they can promise to deliver emails from those ineffective recruiters straight to your inbox advertising their own services -- maybe with a liberal sprinkling of "go back to college! you'll make millions of dollars!" spam on top.

So much for the email address that doesn't (well..didn't) get any spam.

I don't know about any of you, but personally, I think that job interviews are one of the worst things in the entire universe. (In fact, I wrote a post about that a while back after having gotten back from one of them!) I think that they're tied for first place in "top 100 things that I dislike," up there with needles and being on fire.

So, readers: Have any of you interviewed people (particularly in a panel interview type setting)? What on earth do you look for? I don't seem to have whatever it is, so I'm curious why the people who get hired DO get hired.

Also, if you haven't interviewed anyone but you've had horrible job interviews, I'm also curious if any of you have bizarre job interview stories. They're all different, after all -- seems like some of them MUST be interesting. Also, loads of bonus points if you have any interview stories where you end up being stabbed with needles, or on fire.

Comments encouraged and appreciated!


  1. Since hardly anyone actually read this post, I'll comment to make myself feel better. ;)

  2. sorry i haven't been reading the last few weeks, but i will try to catch up. :) wish i had something helpful to contribute here; i have had my share of interviews, and of course they are no fun, but no bizarre experiences. it was always once i actually got the job that things got weird. i did have one panel interview that i vaguely recall bombing, but that was over 10 years ago.

  3. I've been part of the panels doing interviews probably 10+ times (I think you know that!). The things we looked for are:

    1. Someone who comes across confident. Eye contact is important (of course don't be that creepy guy that just stares at one person).

    2. Do not mumble....that's all we tend to remember if it happens.

    3. Do not try to crack jokes right in the beginning of the interview...nor do not randomly laugh at something you say. If the interview goes longer than 30 minutes, then it's probably okay to start showing your personal side if you are a funny person...just remember, there is always going to be at least one person that doesn't think anything is funny, so be sure it is something worth joking about.

    4. Do not make it sound like you know everything and can easily just step in and do whatever job is coming your way. Answer with examples of your past job/education.

    5. Ask questions....ask everyone in the room at least one question, and ask them by name so it looks like you paid attention to what everyone did.

    6. If you can bring up a question about the company via the website or from what the interviewers told you when you first sat down, do shows that you've paid attention and have an interest in the company.

    7. Be sure to have an answer already prepared for the following, "Tell me about yourself", "What are you strengths and weaknesses", "what do you know about this company", and "why should we hire you for this position". There is nothing worse than people that cannot answer these basic questions.

    8. Sounds excited and motivated from the get go. If you are excited and motivated, we can feel it....if you are not, we get bored and stop listening to you.

    9. If you have your choice of interview times, do not choose first thing in the morning, nor be the first person right after lunch. No one pays attention first thing in the morning, and right after lunch we are timed out as well.

    10. Keep your answers to the point. Trailing off is bad, especially when it goes out of the question all together into another subject. You have a background in working with people, so that should show through to everyone in the room.

    11. And not that everyone doesn't know, but show up at least 10 - 15 minutes early, wear a shirt and tie minimum (unless they tell you not too...but any job that pays over $20/hour you should dress for it), bring extra copies of your resume, bring something to take notes (it looks good even if you never write in it), and do not bring sunglasses or a cell phone into the room with you.

    On a side note, I just quit my job, interviewed for a place in Portland in a panel interview, and got an offer a few hours later. Woohoo! :)

  4. Sometimes it is as simple as do you fit in with the work culture. We only interview people that appear competent for the job in the first place. Be prepared to answer questions about your experience with any of the listed skills on the job description. We interviewed someone awhile back who tried to talk around the fact that he didn't have any of the skills, much better to say you havent done it.

  5. The job I ended up landing, the hiring manager (now my boss) was made well aware that I did not have strict professional experience doing the job he wanted me to do, but that I taught myself a couple of programming languages as well as took a couple years of programming in college, got a 4.0 GPA, blah blah, and was excited to have a chance to do it. I honestly think the best part of it was that as soon as I sat down in the interview, I had a feeling that the 'good fit' candidate was, for once, ME, and not the schmoozy guy who ironed his used car salesman suit and put a little extra glop in his hair to prepare to dazzle the interviewers with his twinkly smile and his brown-nosing wit. :)

    And to Jeffery -- the interview for this job, there were zero personality/behavioral questions. It was like taking a test out loud... I kept waiting for the "tell me about a time" questions, but they never came -- nobody cared about a time I faced adversity at work, they just wanted to make sure my brain worked as well as I said it did and that I was okay with being on call 24/7 when it was my turn. :D