Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Job Interviews Part 3 of 3

The recruiter I spoke with originally to setup my third interview mentioned that the dress code is business casual.  Wear slacks and a button up shirt or even a suit he suggested.  This recruiter had an out of state area code and during the course of the conversation I was able to confirm that this recruiter worked out of a different office than the one where I would be interviewing and possibly working.  While I certainly don't know every aspect of the culture, I've been around San Diego long enough to know that a suit is rarely appropriate.  If a family of four in San Diego hosted the President for dinner, I would bet that at least one family member would be wearing sandals.  I decided on wearing slacks and a button up shirt, which is at the low-end of appropriate according to the recruiter.

Before I went to my third interview, I reviewed my list of Frequently Asked Interview Questions.  Over the course of a discouragingly large number of unsuccessful job interviews, interviewers have asked me the following questions, or slight variations on them, most often.  I suggest having answers to these questions ready so that you're prepared when they are asked.  I'll  read through this list of questions and think about how to tailor my answers to fit the job I'm interviewing for and trying to create mnemonic devices to remind me of the answers and things that I would like to emphasize during the interview.

  • Tell me about yourself. - Stick to your professional accomplishments and educational background.  Leave the information about your pets, your lunch and how your day is going for the next time you talk to your Mom.
  • Why did you leave your last job?  I'm always asked this question.
  • What would you say are your greatest strengths?
  • What would you say are your greatest weaknesses? Resist the urge to mention that "More than one young lady has complained about me being too big, if you know what I mean."
  • What in your past work experience would you say you are most proud of doing?  Or, what is your greatest accomplishment?
  • Describe a difficult situation that arose with a customer and explain what you did to solve it.
  • Describe a conflict you had with a co-worker at your previous place of employment and what you did to resolve it.
  • What's you favorite book? - Back when I was interviewing people at one of my previous jobs, I would ask applicants what was the last book they read or what they were currently reading.  I imagine that the interviewers that have asked me this question are trying to determine the same thing I was trying to determine, which is if the person I'm thinking about hiring is more interested in the cast of the Real World or things that matter in the real world.   
The building where I interviewed was an upscale three story office building in a fairly new business park- big on glass and clean round lines with palms trees dotting the perimeter of the building.

It was more impressive in real life, I assure you.

Inside, I read the directory and found that all the floors were rented out to multiple tenant except for the top floor, which was all rented out by the company where I would be interviewing.  I took an elevator up to the top floor to find two young women sitting at a large frosted and etched glass reception desk that would look at home in the lobby of an Intercontinental Hotel.  Two flat panel monitors running promotional videos for the company flanked the reception desk.  

I introduced myself to one of the receptionists who buzzed the person I was to meet with and let him know I was there.  I had arrived ten minutes and killed time by watching the videos.  While I sat waiting, several employees, all wearing jeans, walked around.  I made a mental note that were I to be hired, jeans would be the appropriate attire.  Still, I felt confident that what I was wearing certainly well within the range of appropriate attire given that I was inside an upscale, modern office building interviewing for a full-time job at a company that employs tens of thousands of people in nearly 100 offices around the world.

Ten minutes after our scheduled appointment time, or 20 minutes since I arrived, I sat down with the person that I would be reporting to if got the job.

I don't think I've ever heard more jargon used to describe a fairly straight-forward job function.  It seemed that the person I was interviewing with was intentionally making everything as difficult as possible to understand.  It threw me off a bit to not quite understand the lingo used in their office.

Once I waded through the jargon, the position seemed straightforward enough.  Basically, they have a sales force.  That sales force generates money by selling advertising that runs in thousands of locations nationwide.  If hired, I would be setting up and monitoring those ads.  These two flowcharts make it even more simple:

Nothing to it.

The slightly longer version of the job description is that I would be in charge of making sure that the data from all those advertising campaigns are being properly being fed into the company system.  About the most challenging thing about the position is that there is a large volume of advertising campaigns, each with hundreds or thousands of data feeds to setup, and to red-flag any of the feeds that aren't profitable.    

To me, it sounds like they need a system that will monitor for any advertising campaigns that are more than a couple of standard deviations different from the mean.  The sales force would probably like to know about those campaigns that are significantly out-performing those run anywhere else as that might be a good way to get clients to open up their wallets to run more ads in those markets.  What I imagine is the more frequent outcome, the markets that aren't generating sales need to be flagged and the ads pulled before the client's dollars disappear without any return on their investment.

Based on what I've done in the past and what I would like to be doing in the future, I believe I would be a good fit and I think I did a good job of making my case to the interviewer.

I noticed that the person conducting my interview and the person I would be reporting to, was wearing an untucked slightly wrinkled shirt, wrist watch and jeans.  In an era when everyone has a cellphone that doubles as a calculator, calendar, holder of contact information, and, of course, clock, I don't understand why anyone feels the need to lug around a wrist watch.  Shortly before things wrapped up, he mentioned that I was "really overdressed".  I thought about mentioning the old saying about how "Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people" and ask what he thought about what that means for those who discuss what people choose to wear.  I also thought about saying that I would have worn a bath robe if he would feel more comfortable interviewing a guy that showed up looking like he didn't give a shit about being hired.  In the end, I kept my comments to myself and decided that venting my frustrations via blog later would be more appropriate.

Sadly, it has been about three weeks since this interview took place, which leads me to believe that I won't be hearing back with positive news.  I'm thinking about calling or emailing this interviewer and the people from part 2 of this series to ask for an update.  I'm not holding my breath about securing either of these jobs anymore but there is always a chance.  Plus, I might get some feedback about why they didn't hire me, which might help in landing another job in the future.

My hunt continues.


  1. I'd be pretty upset if I was told to dress great and was told I was overdressed..

    Sorry to hear it's not going too great. Do the follow up, look for more! You'll land something and it'll be good. Be optimistic, like me. Sometimes. Ish.

  2. I don't see how being overdressed can be considered a bad thing, unless you made your employer uncomfortable by being more formal than him =3

    Sucks to hear they haven't called you, good luck with your next interview!

  3. Ah that's unfortunate. I feel that after 3-4 weeks you have the right to call. Regardless I will definitely be referring to your posts here next time I'm preparing for an interview.

  4. Great blog. I wish I had interviews.

  5. i used to have interviews, then I started living.
    great post man!

  6. That's a pretty detailed account. Sucks putting in so much effort and not having them get back to you, you'd think they'd at least give you the bad news instead of just nothing.

  7. shit man, sorry they're jerking ya around like this.

  8. all the best. And about the urge to mention about weakness , do we have to do that to female interviewer as well?

  9. You've a good attitude and are an intelligent person.If the interviewer is so lame,what does that say about the company. They don't need you. They should hire some dweeb, repeat the process when he quits or screws up in six months. I laughed about the wrist watch comment. Working as a teacher with bells, whistles and buzzers going off regularly, the last thing I would do is wear a watch.

  10. Overdressed? what
    Never mind, keep at it man

  11. <3 i lulz. I'm gonna read all the blogs I missed