The job market is a fun place. Well, it’s fun for me at the moment, mostly because I’m in no rush to start another contract. This makes me very relaxed during interviews which tends to result in me coming across better. It also frees me up to decide I don’t want a particular job. I’m not desperate for money so I’m content to wait for the right opportunity rather than grab the first thing that comes along.
It also gives me a bit of freedom in my responses when I think the interviewer is asking stupid questions. I don’t want to burn any bridges so I’m not actually rude. I never actually come out and say I think the interviewer is asking stupid questions but it’s fairly easy to turn things around so they are in the position of justifying why they’re asking questions that are so, well… stupid.
For instance, there was the putz I had to see this week who thought he was being really clever. It seems as though someone gave him the book of Microsoft interview questions and he was eager to show off his new “knowledge”. This style of interviewing gives you abstract questions that have no relationship whatsoever to the work you’ll be doing. Or to the real world.
Proponents say they’re trying to see how creatively you can think. Normal humans say it’s a waste of time. In my case, the interview went a little like this:
Annoying Recruiter: How would you move Mount Fuji 1/2 a kilometre to the South?
ME: Why would I do that?
AR: Uhhhh, it’s a project you’ve been assigned.
ME: As part of my work I’ve been asked to move Mount Fuji?
AR: Yes, so how would you do it?
ME: How could that possibly benefit the business?
ME: As an analyst, my first reaction is the project would be prohibitively expensive and take forever to complete. The first thing I’d want is to see a business case that showed how this would benefit the business.
AR: But how would you do it?
ME: That isn’t the important question. What you need to be asking is why would you do it?
AR: I just want to know how you’d do it.
ME: But if you can’t tell me why it should be done, that tells me there’s a problem. As an analyst, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I let the project go forward without answering that question.
AR: I’m trying to get an idea of how you’d approach the problem.
ME: I’m telling you how I’d approach it: I’d try to find out why someone wanted to do this. Seriously, even suggesting such an outlandish project tells me that things are seriously out of whack.
AR: No, this isn’t a real work project. I gave you an unusual example to see how you’d approach a problem that you wouldn’t face in your day to day work.
ME: So what you’re saying is the way you’re planning to work out if I’d be any good at this job by asking me questions that have nothing to do with the job and could never be of any value to the job?
AR: Uhh, yes.
ME: It never occurred to you to ask me questions related to actual issues I’m likely to face in this job?
AR: Well, this is a creative exercise.
ME: So you’re sticking with the plan that finding out how I deal with something useless is more valuable than finding out how I’d deal with something that actually matters to the business?
AR: Well that isn’t really the point…
ME: Is it hard to get your job? (extended silence) Wait I’ve got a better question: If I took this job, would I ever have to see you again? Because I gotta tell you, that would have a pretty big influence on my decision.
I’d like to point out I’m not a cruel man. It was never my intention to reduce the interviewer to tears. But I think with the right therapy, he’ll come through this a stronger person.