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Re^2: On Interviewing and Interview Questions

by sfink (Deacon)
on Aug 26, 2005 at 15:04 UTC ( #486885=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to Re: On Interviewing and Interview Questions
in thread On Interviewing and Interview Questions

Hm. That's one of my favorite questions. I think it's only a bad question if it's judged as good/bad and viewed independently of everything else at the interview. Here's how I would interpret your answers:

I need the money

The candidate isn't afraid to tell you the truth, even when the truth isn't what you wanted to hear. Still, I vastly prefer working with people who are at least as interested in the job as I am. It avoids the conveyor-belt working environment, and we all have fun and are usually more productive. Probe the candidate to see if that's really the only reason. There's nothing wrong with it as a motivating factor by itself.

The commute will be much easier

Pretty much the same as above. (Though problematic if you're thinking of moving the office a ways away soon!)

I don't know if I do or not, this interview will go a long way in helping me make a determination

Well, I'm biased, since that's pretty much the answer I give. I suppose you should be wary that the candidate doesn't care about the product the company is producing, but anyone who thinks they can predict what a company will be like to work for solely on the basis of the product they produce is fooling themselves anyway. A company might be producing the coolest, most fun thing ever, and yet internally it could be run as a military dictatorship by the CEO and the candidate will end up spending 90% of the time on support or distribution or documentation.

I have friends who work here and think I would be a good fit

Same as the first two, with an added positive that friends tend to work well together and an added negative that people who tag along after their friends may not care about the job much; they just want to work with their friends. (And they're following, not leading, so odds are they aren't as strong as the ones you've already hired. Okay, weak odds. Just something else to dig into.)

Be sure to separate out what the candidate did at previous jobs, rather than what the candidate's team did.

I've researched your company, like the products and think my skillset is a good fit

Possible BS alert. First, check how good of a job the candidate did at the research. And make extra sure that this isn't one of those candidates that knows how to produce the right answer to any question, but can't actually produce. (It's the "smart but can't get things done" type.) Any serious design or coding question should highlight those types pretty quickly, though.

If none those red flags turn out to be true, however, then this answer is a good sign that the candidate will add energy and morale to the team.

I will kill you if you don't let me have this job.

Always a good argument.

I have 20 years of experience doing exactly the sort of thing that you're hiring me for.

This is a good thing, but again raises red flags -- why does the candidate want to keep on working on exactly the same thing? Is the candidate flexible, or are you going to end up in endless arguments about why you can't do it in exactly the same way as the candidate has done it before? The specific needs of your company should be considered adequately.

I will sleep with you if you hire me.

The candidate is your spouse. (And in the long run your sex life will probably be better off if you keep your work relationship and personal relationship separate.)

I work for Reactrix Systems, and am willing to admit it.
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Re^3: On Interviewing and Interview Questions
by tilly (Archbishop) on Aug 27, 2005 at 03:22 UTC
    I'm curious what you'd think of the answers that I'd give.

    The last 2 times that I successfully interviewed my answers would have been, (1) because I hate my current job and (2) because X (the person who referred me) said that this is an awesome group to work with, and if he lived here, this is where he'd work.

    Both cases I got the interview through someone who the employer knew. In both cases the reference could confirm my reason, and in both cases the employer had tried to hire the reference.

      because I hate my current job

      Like I said, I don't think there's any completely right or wrong answer. But this is about as close to a wrong answer as you can get.

      "So, honey, I hear that you've found yourself somebody. What's he like? Are you happy with him? Does he really love you?"

      "Oh yes, Daddy, he loves me a lot! I can tell, because he just murdered his wife in order to be with me!"

      A bit of a stretch, but the point is that your dislike of your current situation doesn't say anything encouraging about how much you'll like your new job, and in fact makes the interviewer worry about your history repeating itself.

      You hate your current job. Um... okay, so do you think you'd like this job, or are you desperate enough to take anything because you figure nothing could be as bad as where you are now? Are you justified in hating your current job, or are you one of those people who ends up hating any job? If something is so awful about your current situation, couldn't you have done something about it rather than giving up and hating it? Have you learned anything from the experiences you've had at your current job, and if so, why aren't you talking about things from that perspective rather than starting out with the negative?

      And considering the field full of red flags that you raise by telling an interviewer that you hate your current job, why aren't you being a little more discreet about it?

      Now, there's nothing really wrong with hating your job, and there are many legitimate reasons for doing so. And if you're getting the new job through contacts, then you may very well be in a situation where they already know something of your current situation, so it's the right thing to do to tackle the big issue head on. But generally speaking, I'd have to say that your answer is about the worst you could give, and I would probably spend the rest of the interview trying to put my mind at ease about the dozens of danger signals that your answer kicked off in my head.

      because X (the person who referred me) said that this is an awesome group to work with, and if he lived here, this is where he'd work

      This isn't the greatest answer either, except that I would still be very inclined towards you if you came to me through someone I trusted. The answer gives you points for enthusiasm-by-proxy, but I'd still want to hear it from you. The problem with this answer is that it doesn't directly answer the question -- you're not giving any characteristic of the job that makes you want to take it; you're only saying that you're interested in the job because someone you trust is interested in the job. I guess this would be appropriate if you were asked the question early enough that you hadn't had a chance to figure out anything about what the job would be like. But it's still weak unless you eventually bolstered it with a reason why you, personally, find this exact job appealing.

      I work for Reactrix Systems, and am willing to admit it.
        Then you would have missed out on a great employee. Twice.

        About the first case. They asked me why I wanted a new job so soon. (I'd been at my previous job for 10 months.) My answer was that I was working for a churn-and-burn consultancy. Great for learning skills and getting work experience. Horrible for everything else. I'd actually survived there longer than average.

        Luckily for me, the interviewer was familiar with churn-and-burn consultancies.

        As for the second, you'd have completely missed the boat. I've already given the reason. I value work environment and co-workers more than I do the details of my job responsibilities. The details of the job responsibilities were virtually irrelevant (other than the fact that I was qualified to do them). What mattered was the opportunity to work with a group of competent people who get a lot done in a low-stress environment.

        Luckily for me, the interviewers knew that they were offering what I wanted, and valued the same thing about their work situation.

        Incidentally, if you are near Santa Monica, we're hiring. (Note what the ad says about the work environment. Believe it. It's true.)

Re^3: On Interviewing and Interview Questions
by Jenda (Abbot) on Aug 26, 2005 at 23:07 UTC

    I'm looking for a job and this is one of the companies on my list. And just like you don't know yet whether you want me to work here, I don't know yet whether I want to work here either. Convince me.

    Well ... "I will sleep with you if you hire me." doesn't sound like a response from a spouse. At least not the spouse of the interviewing person. Which means that at least in the short run the interviewers sex life might get a lot better. Especially if the interviewer is a programmer :-}

    I wouldn't consider it a good answer though. At least unless you are interviewing someone to become nothing more than a coffee-cooking secretary.

    XML sucks. Badly. SOAP on the other hand is the most powerfull vacuum pump ever invented.

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