I absolutely hate job interviews! And, regrettably, I have during the last few years acquired a ludicrous amount of experience at them. This does not, I must emphasize, make them in any way easier or lessen the fear and loathing that I experience before, during and after taking part in them.
There are several reasons for this sensation.
Firstly, I am now 60 years of age (which is OLD for the kind of IT support role that I am usually applying for) and constantly on the defensive to the point of paranoia over any perceived “Ageism” on the part of the interviewer. As long-term regular readers may be aware, my stamping firmly on this sort of behaviour may actually have helped me get my first IT job (or it may possibly have been my expressed willingness to work four 12 hour night shifts per week) but I was only 46 then and have not subsequently found an interviewer with whom I could get away with such things.
Secondly, the number of styles of interview scares me to death! You never know just what format you are going to get. My recent experience is with “Team Interviews” where either a panel of three or four people take turns at throwing questions at you or two people play at “Good cop; Bad cop”. The latter type are particularly disconcerting especially if they adopt the tactic of sitting too far apart so that you cannot watch both at the same time and one does indeed take an aggressive role. I usually endure these with the thought in mind that I will turn down the opportunity to work with idiots like this even if they offer me something!
Thirdly, some companies find it necessary to incorporate into their selection process some sort of “Technical examination”, presumably because they don’t trust the self-serving and misleading information in the average CV. Mine, I should say, is above average – so they really should trust ME! This type of testing is fine if it is practical and relevant – something I have only experienced once. That was when they had a PC set up in the interview room with a little back story of the issues that the fictional owner had reported as wrong with it. I sailed through that one – the power cable was out of the hard drive, the graphics cable was in the disabled onboard connector rather than the separate graphics card and the proxy settings had been turned off preventing Internet access! See what I mean. Easy!
What I hate though are the irrelevant tests on things that would never crop up in real life. I recently had one of these which consisted of a list of IT related acronyms which required an answer stating what the letter stood for (1 mark) and what the term meant or was used for (1 mark). Now the trouble with being self-taught to a very great extent in this area is that I know the latter part but have never had any reason, need or wish to know what the letters actually stand for! And since no-one else EVER uses that full term either I dispute strongly that this should be a way of effectively stamping on someone’s career prospects, especially as, would you believe, the scores on that test determined who got the job! It’s a bit like failing your driving test for knowing the Highway Code but not the legislation behind it.
The other factor making these events so unpalatable is, regrettably……. Me!
As anyone who knows me can attest, my main defence against stress in any form is usually my weird and wonderful sense of humour, which becomes more manic in nature as things get worse. Thus, the more silly the questions I am asked, the more silly my answers seem to want to become – except for the one about solving a network connectivity problem with a chainsaw – THAT was perfectly true!.
Because of this defence mechanism I am able to leave a really bad interview with a smile and with my true feelings about the interviewer(s) politely concealed while I await the call telling me of my rejection.
There is, however, one great big Good Thing in all this stress, misplaced elation and despondency.
And that is… The telephone interview!
In this scenario the agency through whom you have applied for the position arranges a suitable time for the candidate and the representatives of the company to conduct the interview from the comfort of their own home\office.
There are several advantages to this method:
- I don’t have to wear a suit.
- They can’t see how old I am.
- It is possible to have a list of “frequently asked questions” with their appropriate answers spread out on the dining room table in front of me.
- I am on my “home ground” and therefore completely relaxed.
- See 1 above. I HATE wearing a suit – especially for jobs which won’t require me to wear one! I can, in fact, conduct the interview completely naked if I want to – I just don’t happen to have done so……yet!
And why, you may well ask, am I sharing all this with you?
Well, quite simply, I have just acquired (by “just” I mean about a month ago – that’s how long I dither over these pieces) a new contract job. And, as I’m sure you have already guessed, I got it by way of a telephone interview.
In fact all of my last four contracts, covering April 2011 to date, have come through that method and I can state with some pride that I have never failed to secure a contract that has involved a telephone interview as the first contact. So that is obviously the route I need always to take until I finally manage either to increase my pension fund or the economy does something that will increase the interest rate to something over 1 percent and I can think about retiring.
I just hope that no-one cottons on to the fact that most computers these days incorporate webcams – I’ll probably then have to wear my damned suit for phone interviews too!