I don’t know why you would want to see the larger version, but if so, you can click on the photo.

411: In my office, filling out interview evaluations

Listening to: working our butts off these days. Change is all around, and as I have come to learn, nobody stays in a job forever. This isn’t a bad thing, but this has taught me that I’ll probably be interviewing people for the rest of my life.

I don’t wish to sound mercenary, but I can tell you there’s a lot to learn from interviewing people. The more often you attempt to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, the more you get a chance to challenge and examine your worldviews, and if you’re lucky, modify them to better fit the world around you. And you might just learn something about how other successful companies do things. I don’t mean in an espionage way, but in an “approach to business” sort of way.

Also, it’s a useful skill to learn how to read people, and interviewing is basically like a 30 minute application of that skill (also useful in poker, of course). If you have any knack for it at all, you can direct your questions in an increasingly pointed manner until you have the candidate’s “interview face” dropped.

You know this has happened when they shift body stance and tone of voice. When that happens, the most amazing things come out of their mouths. It can be either endearing or alienating. Once or twice I’ve actually pulled this off on the telephone, but it’s really an in-person skill, because it requires body language, eye contact, and tone of voice.

Just like diamond mining, you have to sift through a lot of old lava to find the good stuff. Here’s my list of the worst things ever said to me in a job interview once their guard was down:

“Is there an opportunity for travel, or are people stuck here?”

“When I worked at [enormous Internet bubble company], it became an awful place once the suits showed up. Oh, does the dress code here require a suit? I’m not very comfortable in a suit.”

Unable to adequately express why they were interested in working in Mindshare, an applicant once confessed, “I sent out a lot of resumes, I didn’t have a chance to learn much about you before the interview..” Hey, that makes me feel special!

When asked, “What sort of work environment do you fit best in?”, the optimal answer is not, “I like to work by myself, with my headphones on. I don’t really like to talk to my colleagues.”

Once, when interviewing a man for whom my gaydar said, “This guy’s as straight as Bruce Willis”, I heard, “Your photo on your website doesn’t do you justice. You’re much more attractive in person.”

Please. Not only is that not going to get you the job, but it makes me uncomfortable in a work setting with someone I just met.

One of my officemates actually heard, “I know exactly what you’re looking for, and that’s me.”

Oh fudge. I must have written “cocky bastard” as a job requirement in my classified ad.

My bad.