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Sample Interview

Good Questions

These are all the questions you should ever need to ask an applicant.

Who are you?
I'm Jamais Jochim;-). Seriously, I'm a writer with some graphics background. I'm a teamplayer who prefers being in the beta male, but I am more that capable of acting on my own.
("Beta Male" is the second-in-command spot; basically, if I was on a super-team, I'd be the big brother-type, who's a bit gruff and prefers to "encourage" solutions rather than solve them outright (that way I look wise, the next time you try to figure out the problem yourself, and I can get more work done). I like it because I'm heard, I'm somewhat in charge, and, due to not having the most responsibiity, I can shoot my mouth off without offending too many people (I feel every group needs a devil's advocate). I do great in the alpha and pack positions, too.)

What are your strengths?
I can multi-task (up to six things at one time), learn quickly, and can solve problems with the best of them. I also listen, and I can take criticism. The bottom line is that I like to get the job done, and am willing to do whatever it takes.

What are your weaknesses?
I'm stubborn, which keeps me at a task even when it's over. Also, I hate office politics; I have no problem being nice, or being there for when you need someone to talk to, or even a quick complement (my mom calls me a "teddy bear"). After all, sunny days need to be celebrated, and everyone needs an eye out for the storm. However, if my job is based on kissing up to everyone else, or even a specific person, then I'm wasting time that would be better spent on the job itself.
And I am most definitely out-spoken. But you'll see exactly what I'm talking about when you get to the "Bad Questions" part of this interview...
Also, I tend to write too much. Go figure.

How do you feel about doing the more mundane parts of the job?
I actually find the more mundane parts of the job (preparation, research, typing, clean-up)to be almost as much fun as the job itself. Note: Almost. These stages get me ready for the job at hand, and ease me off the adrenalin rush I get from doing a great job. Basically, if I'm cooking lasagna, then making it and cleaning up are just parts of eating an incredible, melt-in-your-mouth pasta. And that's better than something rubbery and burnt, which was done with minimal prep and no clean-up, right?

Why should I hire you?
Besides my skills and abilities, the best reasons to hire me is my sense of humor and ability to get the job done. My humor allows me to never panic, never stress, and to defuse potentially "interesting" situations. At the same time, you know that no matter what, I will do my best to get the job done.

When are you available?
When do need me?

Bad Questions

These questions should not be asked at an interview. (I'm personally of the mind that someone published a list somewhere and management wannabes memorized it...Real managers don't need lists;-)!)

What do you look for in a job?
I look for a challenge, and people with a sense of humor.
(Actually, what I'm looking for is a paycheck. Why else am I trying to work for for you? But would you trust someone mercenary enough to say "paycheck"?)

Describe yourself in one word.
Crazy. People started calling me this because I have this uncanny knack of finding a solution to a problem that they wouldn't or couldn't (mainly due to office politics); instead of going with the flow (the sane way), I go against it ("crazy").
(My least favorite question. Think this through: You are looking for a creative person (or else you wouldn't even be considering me). BUT there are only a few ways to answer this question (the accepted, non-creative answer is "creative", ironically enough). But if I were a truly creative person, would I answer with one of those few answers?
Another thought is that this is a way to guage how well a future employee can put himself in another person's shoes and respond accordingly. In thirty seconds, I don't feel I know anyone well enough to put myself in their shoes, so why try and make myself look silly?)

Can you take orders from a [woman/minority/religious person]?
Are they signing my paychecks?
(Think what the person actually asking: It comes off as, "Are you sexist/racist/intolerant?" I'm a white male over the age of thirty; in this PC age, that's three strikes against me, as the perception is that "kind of person" is assumed to have problems taking orders from, say a younger black woman. Do you see how it's sorta a discriminatory question?

For the record: As long as it's a legit request (ie, legal and for the job) I have no problem following orders from anyone. You want the ice filled or rubylith on the art board or squiggles off the border? No prob. You want me to fix the AC or beat someone up? We have prob (one I can't do, and one is illegal).

Can you quit your current job today in order to work for me?
Sure. When do I start?
(Another one to think through before asking. Generally, this question is asked because the employer likes what what he sees, and needs to feel a spot yesterday.
I can sympathize with the frustration; however, you are asking a future employee to jump his current ship for yours. Would you honestly trust someone if he would jump ship that quickly?
Also, it comes off as an allegiance test. You, a new person to me, are hoping to win out over the old job. Why would I trust someone that asks where my loyalties lie before I have even worked for him a day? Think about it...
Another issue with this question: Any opportunity that's "TODAY ONLY!" will always be a questionable opportunity. Who wants an interview that sends up a red flag? A clarification: I appreciate that sometimes a position needs to be feeled (sometimes literally) yesterday; however, I'm referring here to when I'm told to quit my current job before I can start work, and I haven't been told what the position entails, or those details are very vague. That's a potential problem...)

What do you like to do for fun?
Role-playing games and Quake.
(A good getting-to-know-you question, but some employers use it to determine what kind of employee you are. Unfortunately, they don't seem to realize that interests are supposed to give a break from your career. Feel free to ask, but don't make it part of your criteria. I mean, Quake is a popular game, but (if you were asking this as a "personality-type" question) would you honestly trust someone who plays a game where backstabbing and violence are part of the fun? And if those were good skills to have, I want to work for you why?)
Obligatory: I appreciate that sometimes skills transfer over; my skills as a D&D ref (patience, knowing the rules, being impartial) are good skills; my skills at acting aren't.
(BTW: I play Animal Crossing, not Quake; I like the concept of being able to experiment with different designs and ways of doing things...)

What do you think of tabloid journalism?
Personally, I think it's deplorable, but it can be fun to read once in a while.
(Keep in mind that I'm a writer; to most people this is just a "hobby question". Actually, this is a personality question. This shows deplorable judgement on the interviewer's part. After all, by now they've seen my clips and/or my website. Also, if I, as an interviewee, am the least bit intelligent I already know the style of the people that I am working for, and will try to emulate it to some degree. Or at least make it a point to learn it within a few days of working there...)

(Interview lasts less than five minutes)
Please call me when you've decided regarding the position.
(Basically, signs of a bad interview are: not looking at the application for more than a name, too much eye contact, too much smiling, actual employees are way too friendly to another, and people aren't really doing anything. The first is an employer looking for bodies, the next two are a clone (not a real person), and the last two are just strange (actually, the fourth is too political for me (are ALWAYS friendly, even with your best friends?; I'm not being cynical, but if my mom and I can go at it, and we love each other, then you can see why I'm suspicious of over-friendliness)), and the last asks the question, why are you hiring new people?)

Any more questions?
No, I think you've covered it really well.
(I'm putting this in here because a number of interviewers are giving me a large number of details (job description, hours, wage, benefits, etc.; one interviewer actually told me about potential problems (legitimate health concerns given my apparent weight issues)), and there really are no questions left to ask. I guess my basic point is that if you give an effective presentation, be prepared for people to compliment you on it, and answer this particular question with a "no." However, far too many managers are told that if the applicant doesn't ask further questions, then the he's not really interested. You'll find that, if the interview went well, I'll have asked a number of questions throughout. Also, I'm more interested in the working environment and how I'll fit in, and I won't know those answers from just the interview.

So, still interested in hiring me?