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"Yes, this is an actual interview & no, they have no idea they're being filmed."
April 16, 2009 10:22 PM   Subscribe

"What is it that certain people say or do during a job interview that makes them stand out? Why do some people struggle to find work, while others land a job in no time? I wanted to know, and the only way to find out was to experience the interview from the other side of the table." 22 tips, with video, at How To Nail An Interview.
posted by ShawnStruck (66 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite

 
First, I needed to create a "corporate presence." I found a company that rented office space by the hour...Next, I posted a job on craigslist for a marketing coordinator at a "soon to launch" web company. Literally minutes after the posting, resumes poured in, 142 on the first day, 356 in the first week...Of course to make sure everything was legally kosher, everyone was required to sign and fax back an appearance release waiver before an interview was scheduled. The reason, "some company meetings will be filmed and we needed proof you'd be comfortable appearing on a video blog if hired."

I'm probably biased because I'm unemployed myself, but this just seems sort of wrong and exploitative. In such a tight job market, even just getting an interview is cause for celebration and it doesn't really sound like these people were ever informed, not even after the interview, that there was no job.

And really, this advice is all the same stuff you see in every career advice book, blog, etc. IME, it's much, much harder to actually get that first interview than it is the ace the interview once you've gotten it.
posted by lunasol at 10:41 PM on April 16, 2009 [26 favorites]


Okay, these are all things I've heard before...but really. Send a thank-you note? I'm sorry, but I've been on both sides of the table and I've never been able to imagine that going over well. Maybe it's a Silicon Valley thing but the idea of someone taking the time to send me mail just seems stalkerish and weird.

Anyone had a thank-you note work for them? Or been on the receiving end and thought anything other than "Man, weirdo!"?
posted by crinklebat at 10:42 PM on April 16, 2009


Cater your resume to the job description!!!

I just have a really hard time taking advice from a publication that uses multiple exclamation points at the end of a single sentence.

That said, I'm going to read it through the end because I'm trying to be a doggone lawyer over here, but it doesn't seem like anybody wants to hire anybody to do that at the moment. So I'll suck it up and take any advice, be it ever so cockamamie.

Or perhaps I should say "...be it ever so cockamamie!!!"
posted by PhatLobley at 10:44 PM on April 16, 2009


They're job is to hire the most qualified candidate.

I may just go back on my word.
posted by PhatLobley at 10:45 PM on April 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


I'm with lunasol. He should have at least *paid* those people, who might have had actual job interviews that day...he could have even sat in on real interviews.

I mean, be on time? Have accomplishments? Don't babble? No shit. I'm glad he wasted a bunch of people's time who are trying to put food on the table in the middle of a recession. Asshole.
posted by jnaps at 10:52 PM on April 16, 2009 [15 favorites]


Also: If you don't think interviewer's Google you...


Here's a piece of job-searching advice, kiddies: check your grammar.

Ugh. Also, after I posted my first comment, I went and watched all the videos, and, given the lack of original or helpful advice, it really seems like the whole point of the exercise was to mock people (especially women) who are just trying to get a job in a bad economy. Classy.
posted by lunasol at 10:53 PM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


15. Don't mention your spouse's job

Ok, likely doesn't apply to you, but for her…yes.


This guy's a total dick, amirite fellas?
posted by dhammond at 10:55 PM on April 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


The interviewer guy seemed very much a slob trying to pretend to be managerial. For all his obvious tips he sure has no clue about body language. The good thing is that karma is a bitch and soon enough his own time will be needlessly frittered away for the sake of someone else's vanity project.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:59 PM on April 16, 2009


Anyone had a thank-you note work for them? Or been on the receiving end and thought anything other than "Man, weirdo!"?

I've always sent them myself if, after an interview, the job was still desirable, and when I had jobs that involved being part of the hiring process, always took note of them. I've never heard anyone take the position that this was weird.
posted by padraigin at 11:15 PM on April 16, 2009


15. Don't mention your spouse's job
Ok, likely doesn't apply to you, but for her…yes.

This guy's a total dick, amirite fellas?


I dont think he was being misogynistic, I think he was commenting on that particular woman's husband's sasquatch-hunting career.
posted by milestogo at 11:17 PM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


That said, the clip that has the kleptomaniac catalog his exploits is rather befuddling.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:17 PM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


A: This is how to land a job as a marketing coordinator for a web company- so yeah eye catching resume might be a must, an Anesthetist, Engineer, Speech Therapist, Librarian, one hoped the interviewer would dig a bit deeper, and perhaps a covering letter might be helpful.

Also, in reading on some duded blog a few months after I went for an interview as a marketing coordinator in the swanky Seattle office tower only to discover that the interview was for a job that didn't exist- and I consented to be filmed- well, I'd be miffed.
posted by mattoxic at 11:23 PM on April 16, 2009


"It's all about your resume. That's what sells you. That's what gets you the job interview."

That's what gets you the fake interview, according to the fake rules we made up? How does this even make any sense?
posted by dixie flatline at 11:25 PM on April 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


Anyone had a thank-you note work for them? Or been on the receiving end and thought anything other than "Man, weirdo!"?

Quite the opposite. I'm a big fan of writing thank-you notes and I'm a freak about stationery and penmanship. It's actually very common for people to call or e-mail me thanking me for the thank you note, which, as it turns out, is a great way to cement a relationship and get work. Perhaps it's because I write them, but when I receive them I tend to favor the sender. I'm not under the impression that my contact information is top secret, so I appreciate the effort.
posted by Thin Lizzy at 11:26 PM on April 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


crinklebat: thank you cards work.
posted by jabberjaw at 11:28 PM on April 16, 2009


Hello I am a Professional Sasquatch Hunting Organisation.
posted by awfurby at 11:29 PM on April 16, 2009


Maybe it's a Silicon Valley thing but the idea of someone taking the time to send me mail just seems stalkerish and weird.

At least for engineers, if you sent a thank you card in Silicon Valley, I think the recipient would wonder if you were really an engineer. Your resume might get passed on to sales or marketing.
posted by eye of newt at 11:34 PM on April 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Ugh, I couldn't even make it through one. If that guy was a member of my team, and I saw this video, I'd fire his ass.
posted by mark242 at 11:37 PM on April 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


That sasquatch hunting company... I'm curious about their business plan.
posted by aubilenon at 11:38 PM on April 16, 2009


@Thin Lizzy
I'm a freak about stationery and penmanship.

although i have been a professional graphic artist and designer for 30+ years (and have been "unemployed" for four years), i suffered a brain injury a few years ago that left my penmanship totally screwed... perhaps that's the reason i've been finding it so difficult to find a job.
posted by przxqgl at 11:40 PM on April 16, 2009


That sasquatch hunting company... I'm curious about their business plan.

Do you think they're hiring?
posted by albrecht at 11:45 PM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I want to jump on the this-guy's-a-dick bandwagon. Interviews are nerve-wracking and drain a kiloton of energy (anxiety over making it on time, making sure all of your clothes are [dry-]cleaned and pressed, getting your resume together, etc.), and if I were an interviewee here, I'd be furious.
posted by spiderskull at 11:54 PM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


At least for engineers, if you sent a thank you card in Silicon Valley, I think the recipient would wonder if you were really an engineer. Your resume might get passed on to sales or marketing.

Hahaha. Okay, so maybe it is a cultural thing. I was seeing all the "Yes, send thank-yous!" responses and kind of starting to think I was from another planet. I can totally picture the puzzled reactions a handwritten note would get around my particular section of the cube farm. I mean, I guess I also can barely read most of my coworkers' handwriting.

I think the corollary to thank-you notes for engineers is that if there's a problem you can't solve to your satisfaction during the interview, figure it out afterward (in a way that wasn't obviously googled) and message your interviewer on LinkedIn/Facebook/whatever. I have had candidates do that, and I was impressed.

BTW, I love thank-you notes in everyday life...I just don't think they're appropriate for the jobs I've gotten/interviewed people for.

And yes, this guy sucks. I'd be *so* mad if I found out I had been used for this kind of project.
posted by crinklebat at 12:08 AM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Google the company you're interviewing for. Learn as much as you can about the company's mission, objectives, goals, and future plans. If you're asked why you want to work for the company, you best answer something better then, "I like the company's location", which was said.

How, exactly, were the applicants supposed to Google a company that doesn't exist, or be able to say anything other than that about it? All they can comment on is the location, because the location (or at least the location of the office that the interview is being held in) is the only part of the company that protrudes into reality from the writer's rich fantasy life.

If you don't think interviewer's Google you or look you up on Facebook or MySpace, you're crazy.

If the author thinks this piece reflects well on his psychological make-up, as a part of his own quest to find employment, he is, if not exactly crazy, then certainly deluded. Unless he wants to get a job in one of those places that cold-calls old ladies and separates them from their savings, in which case his attitude of seeing people as raw material might come in useful.
posted by Grangousier at 12:08 AM on April 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


Strange. Use the word "location" that many times in a sentence, and it seems to turn into the word "lotion". Which makes me think about Silence of the Lambs.

It puts it in the basket, you know.
posted by Grangousier at 12:10 AM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


If I found out that I had gone through the trouble of interviewing for a job that didn't exist so I could be mocked on the internet by someone who doesn't even know how to properly deploy an apostrophe, I would definitely be sending a thank you card.

_________________________

DEAR MR. STEINAR,

GO FUCK YOURSELF.

!!!

SINCERELY,

L. MUSTACHIO

_________________________

The card would be hand delivered by a 350 pound bouncer, who would then proceed to smack him over the head with The Chicago Manual of Style.
posted by louche mustachio at 12:13 AM on April 17, 2009 [14 favorites]


I agree that the guy's a dick for doing this in the way that he did, but I still find this sort of resource helpful. My one major qualm (aside from the exploitation?) The exhortation not to play with your hair or anything similar. I'm sure that it makes the interviewee look bad, but it's not like there's an on-off switch there, like: Hey, I'm nervous, but I'll consciously make the choice not to exhibit any signs of nervousness! Then I'll also make the choice not to appear distracted.

I'm just saying that's got to be an easier trick to pull off from the other side of the table, as it were.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:14 AM on April 17, 2009


Google the company you're interviewing for. Learn as much as you can about the company's mission, objectives, goals, and future plans. If you're asked why you want to work for the company, you best answer something better then, "I like the company's location", which was said.


Funnily enough, there's research that says that proximity to work is a pretty good predictor of how long someone will stay in a job. If you've got a really long commute, you're more likely to leave. So actually, someone who likes the location is a potentially valuable recruit. (Sure I can see his point that you should have more to say than that; but it's not totally pointless or stupid).
posted by Infinite Jest at 12:24 AM on April 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


I absolutely kick azz at nailing jobs. I definitely got lucky the first couple, then it became some sort of feedback loop where, 10+ years on, I was just waltzing in there EXPECTING to get it. I was oozing so much confidence it was disgusting.

There's probably a lot of sporting analogies for it. Develop a culture of winning. In the zone. Et al.

[I have had a brazillion jobs, mostly part time, sometimes holding down 3 or 4 at once, but definitely enough to notice a winning pattern. Please excuse my lack of modesty.]

Anyone remember the original Jerky Boys prank calls from about 20 years ago? He's applying for jobs and the bastard's acting so cocky, threatening them with violence ["I'll wrap your head with a fucken ratchet"], demanding to know when he starts, demanding to immediately become the boss' right hand man... and half the bloody time it sounds like they're prepared to give him the job over the phone.]
posted by uncanny hengeman at 12:30 AM on April 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


Of course to make sure everything was legally kosher, everyone was required to sign and fax back an appearance release waiver before an interview was scheduled. The reason, "some company meetings will be filmed and we needed proof you'd be comfortable appearing on a video blog if hired."

Is this really legally kosher? There is no company, no meetings, no chance of getting hired, the footage is appear without anyone getting hired anyway. Seems like the release was obtained by fraud to me.
posted by fleacircus at 12:32 AM on April 17, 2009 [7 favorites]


Crinklebat, it's interesting to hear from someone who's a part of a totally foreign business culture. In my experiences, Facebook would be considered a personal boundary that would be rude to cross until you had worked together. (Although I also find that it's a regional thing as well- west coasters seem much more casual about social networking sites than east coasters.) Perhaps it's just better to say that after your interview, it's helpful to make a small, kind gesture to the interviewer.

Unless he's interviewing you for an imaginary job. Then you should also make a gesture, but probably not small and definitely not kind.
posted by Thin Lizzy at 12:36 AM on April 17, 2009


But challenge me to walk up to a beautiful lady and ask her out? No way, Jose. I'll be lucky if I remember how to speak English. Challenge me to ask for a raise one year in? Ain't gonna happen. Stop the office bully from pushing me around? No no.

It's only the job interview aspect where I become some cock-sure-job-getting monster. Go figure.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 12:37 AM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


These tips (and almost all others of the sort) seem useless for both the candidate and the hiring manager. They're all either about formalizing the process of the interviewer - establishing these hidden but meaningless rules that assert one's willingness to adhere to social or cultural norms (good for a company that wants to hire "team players") - or "motherly advice" about how to avoid appearing completely incompetent, and they might as well suggest against about public spitting! I really cannot see how they are at all useful for actually identifying talent in a professionalized field.

I guess for me, I really hate being dishonest, so it has always been endlessly frustrating that large corporations (like investment banks!) seem to put so little investment into human resources that the best their hiring managers can come up with is this silly little game that forces us to sacrifice more truthful expression in lieu of conformity to this ideal formalization.

I just wish we could have an organized detente between the interviewer and the interviewed, so that when I want to ask a real question about a candidate's weaknesses, we might have an understanding that I am genuinely trying to be sympathetic and objective in finding the best fit for the job.
posted by Sangermaine at 12:43 AM on April 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


I mean, be on time? Have accomplishments? Don't babble? No shit.

Woah. Lotta similar hate and I'm barely into the comments. Not exactly moments of epiphany, sure. But sometimes it's good to have a refresher. Have a fresh set of "rules" to focus and sharpen the sword.

For example, I've been known to stroke my chin, although to try and portray a worldly, deep thinking persona. Maybe I should be wary?


I'm glad he wasted a bunch of people's time who are trying to put food on the table in the middle of a recession. Asshole.

Now this. THIS is worthy of hate. Part of me was thinking "surely he must be in the position of offering an actual job?" as I skimmed thru his points.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 12:49 AM on April 17, 2009


Anyone had a thank-you note work for them? Or been on the receiving end and thought anything other than "Man, weirdo!"?

I've gotten thank you emails from interviewees for engineering jobs and didn't think they were weird. Unnecessary, but not weird. Except for the guy who sent a thank you email, several followup emails over the following weeks, and evidence in my server logs that he had been googling my name a month after the interview.
posted by cmonkey at 12:59 AM on April 17, 2009


22 Tips on How To Nail an Interviewee

1) Make up fake company.

It should be totally believable, like Steve's Internet Paintball Marketing Consortiumsy, but use your last name instead because it's classier.

2) Just axe the dudes right away, unless you're into that, but remember Alex, Robin, Casey and Sasha could all be either gender, so it's best to call to set up their interview.

3) Misspelling something on your letterhead is a good way to test who's dumb enough to fall for exploitative bullshit, or at least cowed and inattentive.

4) Always be clothing. What does that even mean? I don't know, but it can't hurt to repeat it a couple times.

5) Try to pick applicants who have been out of work for a while. They'll be more desperate, and you won't see as many fatties.

6) Remind them that they've almost got the job, they just need to do something a little extra… Like, a normal job would be getting me those pens. A little extra would be a reach around to those pencils, if you know what I mean.

7) And I think you do.

8) Also, you should try to have sex with them. That's pretty much the other 14 tips too, if you just want to stop reading.
posted by klangklangston at 1:09 AM on April 17, 2009 [8 favorites]


I've been an interviewer several times now, and I hate being forced by management to ask questions like "what's your weakness?" and "where do you see yourself in 5 years time?". The only people who answer them well are bullshitters and people who are good at being interviewed. And being good at being interviewed is only a relevant skill for celebrities - the rest of us have to actually be able to build stuff or know stuff or organise stuff. Those questions don't help you find people with skills or even tell you anything about their personality.

I like to get people talking about the technical side of their work, or to tell me about something they acheived. That's when you see who's passionate and engaged with the type of work they do. If you're ever given a chance to just tell an interviewer random stuff, be ready to briefly tell them about the time you kicked arse and made a success out of a task you were given.

As for getting people who fit in to your workplace, again that's about getting people talking instead of answering rote questions. Then you see if they're self-centred or not nerdy enough or whatever will make your current employees dislike them. Then again, having all your staff be *too* similar can lead to conflict too. You need a balance, and you won't find that by asking questions that everyone will answer in the same way - "oh, my weakness is that I just love my work so much, I'm a perfectionist, haha".
posted by harriet vane at 1:16 AM on April 17, 2009 [5 favorites]


My weakness? Well, my skin barely stops any sorts of penetration, my head's pretty easy to crack open, I'm vulnerable to fire, but I think my real weakness is electrocution, mostly because my muscles seize up.

Oh, kryptonite too. Most of the heavy and/or radioactive metals, in fact.
posted by klangklangston at 1:23 AM on April 17, 2009 [11 favorites]


As for getting people who fit in to your workplace, again that's about getting people talking instead of answering rote questions.

I usually just ask, "So, where do we hide the bodies?"


I'm not kidding.
posted by louche mustachio at 1:37 AM on April 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Right off the bat, the advice goes sour. "1. Cover letters are worthless"? The only interviews I've gotten in the past two months have been because of highly personalized cover letters.

I can see where this advice would be applicable to big companies - most of them scan resumes for keywords before they even reach HR - but not for smaller organizations. Especially not for the kind of web start-up that the interviewer was posing as, and doubly so for the "position" being filled. If I'm applying for a marketing coordinator job, then you damn well better look at my cover letter, because that's going to tell you in an instant how effectively I communicate, and how convincing I can be with a pitch.
posted by greenland at 2:11 AM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I would so love for one of the candidates to send an attack lawyer in after this guy. In a just world the case against would involve time wasting, deception, character defamation and banal writing.
posted by rongorongo at 2:50 AM on April 17, 2009


This guy is a douchenozzle, for sure.

I completely agree that you should not be putting stuff on the web where a potential employer might see it if it makes you potentially look like a prat or worse. But I also felt pretty bad for that woman he humiliated--we all do stupid things, and I like to think an interviewer would be gracious enough to simply note indiscretions like that privately, if s/he felt they might have a bearing on the suitability of the applicant.

Man, I would be pissed if this interview-for-fake-jobs happened to me. And where are his positive examples? Surely any number of people "aced" the interview.

(My only really eye opening things interviewing have been when asking candidates with little or no experience straight out of school what their salary expectations are. A lot of times it's outrageously ambitious. Know industry average pay in your area, if you can--if you tell me you want to make more than twice that, it tells me you're completely out of touch.

Finally, if you can, do a mock interview or two with friends who have done interviews. Even if they can't help you rehearse the technical questions (those are the easy ones) you might be asked, they can help you will overall appearance, mannerisms, and how you do on those general questions everyone hates.

I've always refused offers of refreshment--I'm curious what HR pros take on that is. A minor reason is that I don't want to seem "greedy" but mainly because there are an infinite of ways a beverage can make you look foolish during an interview and it's one less thing to worry about.

Don't forget to ditch your gum, too.)

posted by maxwelton at 2:50 AM on April 17, 2009


1. His permissions to be filmed etc. are worthless because he misrepresented what he was doing. I sure hope for his sake he told them exactly what he was doing right afterwards and that he asked for permission to post the film, because otherwise he's toast.
2. A good cover letter and a thank you note give two important indications: that the candidates knows who I am and aren't just carpeting with resumes, and that they are self-starters. When I hire, I'm looking for someone who knows that the job doesn't stop with the job description. One sentence in a cover letter a couple of years ago meant I looked at a candidate I wouldn't have otherwise.
3. A good resume just means you survive the first cull. I went through 70 resumes for the last hire I did. Most were obviously unsuitable. If you're applying for a middle school job that requires middle school experience, and you've only taught high school or never taught at all, your resume will not make it out of the folder. Unless you know the boss of the person doing in the hiring, in which case you might even get an interview. An uncomfortable one. Or unless you have a good cover letter and you have managed in some way to meet and impress the interviewer before the hiring process started.
4. Never never never badmouth an employer or throw your weight around. If you do it in an interview, you'll do it on the job.
5. No matter how systematic the hiring process, some people just don't work out. Probably about as many as if you picked candidates by throwing the resumes down a stairs and choosing the one that got the farthest.
posted by Peach at 3:11 AM on April 17, 2009


I just sent the guy an email explaining how he exploited those interviewees.

Here's his address:

skipsness@gmail.com
posted by orme at 4:02 AM on April 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


For example, I've been known to stroke my chin, although to try and portray a worldly, deep thinking persona. Maybe I should be wary?

I know times are tough, but another question you need to ask yourself: do you really want to work for the kind of people who make hiring decisions based purely on whether or not a candidate strokes their chin?

I'm a freelancer/contractor so I do a lot of interviews, and I find all interview "advice" is largely useless in a real life situation, or just blatantly obvious. In an unpredictable situation like an interview - where you may not know anything about the interviewers themselves, what they will ask you, what they are looking for, etc. - I'm not sure there is much preparation you can do. Talking up your achievements might impress one interviewee, but it might make you seem big headed to another.

The only advice that really works is just to be yourself. It's corny, and probably obvious, but true. There is no way to prepare for every eventuality so be honest about your abilities, don't be afraid to admit you don't know something and try to enjoy yourself: it's the only social situation in the world where you are actively encouraged to talk about yourself at length.

On the subject of looking up personal information, I believe I may have recently failed an interview because the interviewer confused some personal information he had looked up on-line. While researching a candidates professional history is fine, looking up personal information crosses a line. I'm not a particularly precious about my privacy, but the interviewers were almost creepy with the amount of information they had looked up about me. What I do in my personal life has absolutely zero bearing on my professional ability, so mind your own business!
posted by axon at 5:00 AM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


While most of the "tips" are are bleedingly obvious, ignoring them is probably going to work against you.

As for thank-you notes, well, when I was hiring for sales and marketing positions, they were important. If a candidate didn't send one (which was more of a 'close the deal' letter disguised as a thank-you note), he was out of consideration. For any other position, they were extras--not deal breakers.

Oh--and I've learned one thing after doing hiring and interviewing for almost 30 years. It isn't an art, it isn't a science, it is serendipity. Sometimes the best candidates are your worst hires.
posted by paddbear at 6:00 AM on April 17, 2009


Oh, fuck this guy right in the goat ass! "I looked at your Facebook profile, and this concerns me..." *shows interviewee her picture* Fuck that bullshit!

Here's my answer

"That's a picture of me drinking and having a little fun. Now unless I'm here for the professional beer drinking job, THAT ISN'T GOING TO HAPPEN DURING BUSINESS HOURS. I wasn't aware I needed to allay your fears of getting wildly drunk and taking goofy pictures of myself and friends while sauced at lunch time. Or do you just assume the worst?"
posted by P.o.B. at 6:32 AM on April 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


One more thing, some of these people are definitely not trying to nail the interview. Like the dude with the sippy cup from Starbucks.
posted by P.o.B. at 6:46 AM on April 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


I've gotten thank you emails from interviewees for engineering jobs and didn't think they were weird. Unnecessary, but not weird. Except for the guy who sent a thank you email, several followup emails over the following weeks, and evidence in my server logs that he had been googling my name a month after the interview.

Hey, you said you'd let me know whether I was being offered the job or not, then you never called. When you didn't respond to my emails, I thought something terrible must have happened to you, so I googled your name, looking for an accident report or something. Guess you were just one of those guys.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:03 AM on April 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


The article states:

Cover letters are worthless.

That's categorically, apodictically wrong. I do a LOT of interviews/hiring, and I usually don't even look at the résumé unless I like the cover letter.

For example, if the cover letter is a boilerplate, I will usually discard the application entirely. The cover letter needs to say something specific about the job, the ad, the company, etc. that shows me that there was at least a modicum of thought invested.

If the cover letter contains egregious typos--such as misspelling the company name (it happens constantly and my company is huge, famous, and doesn't have an awkward, foreign, or otherwise esoteric spelling)--this'll also usually warrant a rejection.
posted by jeremy b at 7:21 AM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Tell me why our Professional Sasquatch Hunting Organization should hire you.
posted by storybored at 7:25 AM on April 17, 2009


"Okay, these are all things I've heard before...but really. Send a thank-you note? I'm sorry, but I've been on both sides of the table and I've never been able to imagine that going over well. Maybe it's a Silicon Valley thing but the idea of someone taking the time to send me mail just seems stalkerish and weird. "

It's customary to send a follow-up letter after the interview. I don't consider this a "thank you note," but I suppose it could be taken that way, as typically the first thing you do is thank the interviewer(s) for their time.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:01 AM on April 17, 2009


My weaknesses are chocolate and marijuana.

Oh, wait, is this on the record?
posted by krinklyfig at 8:05 AM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


As difficult as it is to be a freelance musician, I count my blessings every time I hear about people going on "job interviews" and working on their "resumes".. Well, sure, musicians have resumes, but we aren't required to lie and embellish our past jobs, and spin our entire work life. If we played a concert, or were involved with an orchestra or group, we simply write that. If we perform an audition for a professional orchestra, it is anonymous and performed behind a screen. Reading over this list, it just struck me how obvious some of the shit relates to simply "being prepared". Are people really so stupid to leave their cell phone on and make stupid jokes and talk shit about other bosses? I guess they totally are, but it's a completely foreign world to me. I went on a job interview at a temp agency once during a particularly dry spell; it was a fun exercise but didn't seem too difficult. And every bullshit question was easily related to music performance. As for my weakness, I resisted the temptation to say that sometimes I play shitty concerts that I don't believe in, if the money is good enough. THAT would've raised a red flag at a shitty temp agency peddling shitty jobs to shitty employees. (But that's every musician's weakness)
posted by ChickenringNYC at 8:18 AM on April 17, 2009


@P.o.B.: Well that response will certainly clear up all their concern.

Besides, they're not going to show you the picture and ask for an explanation. They will either screen you, or not, based on what they find. It all comes down to the personality of the HR person. That person might be an uptight asshole, but that doesn't mean the company isn't worth working for. It's definitely worth keeping that stuff private.
posted by Edgewise at 8:38 AM on April 17, 2009


Maybe it's a Silicon Valley thing but the idea of someone taking the time to send me mail just seems stalkerish and weird.

Maybe it's a generational thing? People under the age of 30-35 seem to be increasingly icked out by the idea of postal mail, any kind of mail, really, unless it's from family or friends and thus has sentimental value. I've heard undergraduates express amazement that people even still bother to send snail mail, period, the implication being that it's a complete waste of time, paper, ink, and money. That said, I have always read/heard that thank-you letters are good post-interview etiquette, especially since relatively few people bother to write them, and I've always sent out thank-you letters after interviews, even to people that I only spent a few minutes with. I've never heard any negative feedback. (Of course, if there were negative feedback, I suppose it would be unusual for an interviewee to hear it.)
posted by blucevalo at 8:39 AM on April 17, 2009


For example, I've been known to stroke my chin, although to try and portray a worldly, deep thinking persona.

I like to twirl my Snidely Whiplash mustache and arch one eyebrow (the one opposite my monocle, to be specific).
posted by infinitywaltz at 8:44 AM on April 17, 2009


The only good tip on that site is the facebook one. Untag pictures of yourself being drunk at parties. Despite all common sense, actually being drunk from time to time like a normal person is in fact a huge detriment to getting a job, evidently.
posted by tehloki at 9:14 AM on April 17, 2009


I've been doing a of interviews in the last 3-4 years (as the interviewer): personal preferences as to what I'd prefer in a co-worker aside, the number one thing that makes a candidate stand out is this: actually caring about what the job is. Anything that reinforces that is good in my view: custom cover letter or a few sentences in an email (not a cover letter that just rehashes the resume), actually asking questions during the interview that have to do with the work itself, pointing out achievements/experiences that are relevant to the job, researching the company before the interview, etc.

Not only that's what you'd expect from someone who actually cares what s/he does for half the waking hours of the day, but it's an indicator of work ethic and professional competency --everything else is just gravy.
posted by costas at 9:50 AM on April 17, 2009


I would so love for one of the candidates to send an attack lawyer in after this guy. In a just world the case against would involve time wasting, deception, character defamation and banal writing.

Maybe we could dress up like cops and "arrest" him, then post videos online about "how to nail an interrogation."
posted by albrecht at 9:53 AM on April 17, 2009


Me : Bandwagon :: this guy : douchebag
posted by Fezboy! at 10:04 AM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I would so love for one of the candidates to send an attack lawyer in after this guy.

Amen. IAAL, and agree with previous comments above that any legal waiver this asshole may claim to have was obtained by fraud unless the waiver expressly stated that there was no job. (Either way, exploiting unemployed people for laughs and profit during an economic recession is just…wow…I am at loss for words.)
posted by applemeat at 10:23 AM on April 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


I interview software developers on a regular basis. I've never had a note from a candidate sent USPS. Some have sent thank you emails after the interview. It's never altered our decision one way or another, though I've thought, "Aww. What a sweetheart" when sent a particularly nice thank you.
posted by chrchr at 12:20 PM on April 17, 2009


While researching a candidates professional history is fine, looking up personal information crosses a line. I'm not a particularly precious about my privacy, but the interviewers were almost creepy with the amount of information they had looked up about me. What I do in my personal life has absolutely zero bearing on my professional ability, so mind your own business!

I don't know. I completely agree with what you say about privacy, but on the other hand, assuming that interviewers will not Google you, Facebook you, look for wacky/bizarre/disturbing photos of you, or do anything else they darn well want to do to snoop on you, dig up dirt on you, satisfy their curiosity about your peccadilloes, and scope you out before an interview, whether it has anything to do with your professional bona fides or not, is a gambling proposition.
posted by blucevalo at 12:29 PM on April 17, 2009


Well that response will certainly clear up all their concern.

Besides, they're not going to show you the picture and ask for an explanation. They will either screen you, or not, based on what they find.


Exactly. That's why I would have an outrageous response to something as outrageous as someone doing something like that. I'm not a propenent of pasting pictures of myself blottoed on the internet. But the minute somone calls me on something I've done they're going to get a "yeah, that's me" response. If someone did this in a professional situation, they are the ones that made it unprofessional not me. (And I wouldn't want to work at that place after that happened.)
posted by P.o.B. at 4:24 PM on April 17, 2009


Since a lot of people are looking (California just reported over 11% unemployment), we should all share all our tips. Here is my advice

(I am 'between jobs', and I just got a couple of offers, and am expecting a third.)

I've heard that any job listing results in hundreds of resumes sent from all over the country, with resumes all matching the job description in sometimes suspicious detail.

In each company that responded to me it was because I knew someone in the company--either they had tried to recruit me in the past, or someone I used to work with was now working there. In two cases the companies had no job listing--I just went straight to the person I knew and asked if there were any openings coming up.

For big companies you have to go through or bypass their overloaded HR department. In one case I posted my resume to their online system, then later contacted a person I knew in the company. They asked for my resume. "I don't work for HR so I can't get your resume from their system." Having it in their HR database was worse than never sending the resume at all because it gave me a false sense of security that people at the company could look at it. The opposite was true.

If you are right out of college, you actually have a major advantage that you might not realize. You are cheap. A salary that might look good to you would be considered low to someone with a decade of experience. So press your intelligence, energy, and eagerness to learn, and desire to do great things at their company.
posted by eye of newt at 4:53 PM on April 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


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