One fake motto, several awkward silences, and numerous failed attempts at jokes later, I have finished my first phone interview of this job-hunting season. Note: the professional shirt I was wearing did not prevent me from sounding like an ass.
The greeting was great. We both introduced ourselves and had friendly words. I was flying high when he asked me, “So what do you know about our company?” I was prepared for this question. I had spent the last twenty four hours digging into the recesses of their website and stalking individual members of their team. Unfortunately, the company is one of those weird hi-tech startups that uses phrases like “infrastructure API” and “Cloud IVR.”
In short, I struggled to explain to the man what his own company did. Instead, I said I liked it because I felt like “their company searches for a tree even though it doesn’t know what a tree looks like, but it finds something to fill the tree-shaped hole, if that makes any sense?” It didn’t. I was trying to say that their company was innovative but ended up swallowing most of the toes on my left foot. The awkward silence after this mangled corpse of a metaphor said it all.
Things looked up when he asked me about myself. This is one of my favorite subjects. I talked about International Relations, Egypt, blogging and meeting people and talking to them, and it all sounded really good until he asked if I read any blogs daily.
I threw out a few and joked that I read my own blog. No laughs. Note: do not mention that you daily read your own blog. You will sound like an ass. I also said that I read Mashable occasionally to catch up on “the stuff.” It was supposed to be a joke, but I’m sure I came off like “an idiot.” It’s also not true, unless you count looking at tweets as reading Mashable’s articles.
He inquired if I was familiar with the start up industry in San Francisco or using technological terms. The short answer is no but the long answer is “my motto is that if I don’t know it today, I can learn it by tomorrow,” a motto I made up on the spot and also one that sucks.
When he asked if I was involved in any weekly meet ups, I said that I spend a lot of time with my family right now because I don’t have a big community in Oklahoma. What he heard: I live under a rock and my best friends are my own leg hairs.
Finally it was time for me to ask questions, and I gave him all I had. I wanted to know everything and prolong the conversation as long as possible, which is why I asked if his company was “more of a get in and get out kind of operation or if people are in for the long haul.” Note: asking this question will make you look like an ass. People are always in for the long haul. I should have asked what the turnover rate was, or better yet, just let the conversation end.
It was a start to a wonderful interviewing career and in the end, a great piece of blog fodder.
Here are my takeaway points:
1. Don’t use complicated metaphors that involve trees and make zero sense.
2. No fake mottos.
3. Have a 2 minute or shorter summary of the company and why you like them.
4. Save jokes for the break room.
Now get out there and good luck!