Tag Archives: new graduate

What I Learned from My Painfully Bad Interview

Should you hire this woman?

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!

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Why I Plan on Selling Out to the Man ASAP

Now ready for salaried work

I’m leaving Egypt for good in about three weeks. My Arabic program, and in fact my entire journey with Arabic, is finally coming to an end, having died a swift but not painless death here in Cairo. Currently, my plan is to go home and marry my sister, or rather, see her married, and then scrimp and save my frequent- flier miles, cushion change, and Chick-fil-A coupons in order to purchase a flight out to San Francisco where I want to “be a writer.”

I was eating dinner at the second-best Thai restaurant in Cairo with boyfriend, friend, and friend of friend, when post-Egypt plans came up in the conversation. I told the friend of a friend that I wanted to be a writer, and he asked what kind of writer, and I said I didn’t know, at which point he burst out laughing. And this is a man who has maintained a neutral face for 98% of his waking life. Apparently my ambitions are a gut-buster. He followed his chuckles with a question, “So when are you going to sell out to the man?”

The conversation turned away shortly after this comment and the rest of the evening was filled with heated yet useless discussion of American foreign policy in which no one admitted that I was obviously right.

At any rate, I pretty much forgot about the remark until this morning, when I was simultaneously looking for jobs and trying to think of something to blog about today. Suddenly, I was struck with my answer to his semi-rhetorical question: “As soon as possible. I will sell out to the man as soon as possible.”

The man has a bad reputation for being a soul-crusher and brilliance-suck, but he (or she) also has health insurance, a steady salary, after-work parties, socializing opportunities with kwards (short for awkward people), logoed shirts, networking possibilities, and buildings to wander through after hours.

He’s also not the only person I could sell out to. I could sell out to yuppies and become a full time babysitter that tries to write short stories at work while the young ones struggle through one of my custom-designed mazes. I could sell out to slightly older yuppies and become a tutor that teaches children to worship the god of standardized tests by sacrificing as many Saturdays as possible to the Great SAT. I could sell out to the coffee bean or tomato and become a barista or waitress, where I will be brainwashed to believe that dinners and lattes are of earth-shattering importance.

All the while, I could be typing furiously on my laptop when I return from work, quipping, editing, and submitting, until finally an obscure literary journal accepts me as an unpaid intern at which point I’ll finally have no time to blog.

So you see, sarcastic friend of a friend who thinks my hopes and dreams are ridiculous and that I need to wake up and smell the black coffee of reality, not only do I like drinking black coffee now (as long as it’s Nescafe Gold), but I also think that selling out to the man (or woman) is one of my better options.

I didn’t say I wanted to starve to death. I said I wanted to be a writer.

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