It was decided at work today that I get to hire another underling to serve my evil schemes. I love interviewing people, you feel so powerful, and this particular vacancy is going to be for a student; which just makes it even better!

In my mind there are two kinds of students when it comes to a job interview, those who don’t really need or want the job and those who are desperate for it. I’ve interviewed a few students now and they all seem to fit into one of these categories. You may be thinking, well wanting or not wanting a job is a binary answer, that’s like saying there’s two kinds of people in this world, alive people and dead people… Well firstly, stop being such a prick and just read the damn blog and secondly, WRONG! You’re WRONG. Wanting a job is not a binary selection, it is a giant scale of shades of grey (the top end of which can often resemble the book of a similar name).

I have interviewed people who have other jobs lined up, or who have a job currently but are looking for something better. These are the middle of the scale, they’d like the role but they won’t recreate the broken pool cue scene from The Dark Knight to get it. Lower down on the scale are the ‘my mum and/or government made me apply for this job’, I’ve interviewed a few students in this pile. They’re easy to recognise, they’re the ones who didn’t even bother reading the company name on the way in and steal half the office supplies on the way out.

At my last company an intern was hired and given a laptop to take home on day one. As you can imagine given the context of this anecdote she never showed up again, the company learnt their lesson though, the next new starter was given a Mac so old it looked as if it was pulled from a cold war survival bunker; it’s a lot harder to steal something that weighs more than a smart car and is bolted to the desk on the 2nd floor of an office block.

At the top of the metaphorical totem pole are the ‘tryhards’. The ones that have been scraping through the bins out back for a week looking for some extra insight into the company that might give them a leg up on the competition. I once had an interviewee call me by my full name, first, middle and last. Now I don’t think anyone who works with me knows my middle name, it also isn’t present on any of my social media accounts. Needless to say this was a step into the creepy and he didn’t get the job. Sorry dad.

I feel like all my talk of interviewing is giving off the vibe of someone with a stable, maybe even thriving career, which I guess i’m kind of doing on purpose on a subconscious (and a little conscious) level but it’s not really the case. Most of my jobs have been at start up companies and if anyone reading this has worked at a startup before they’ll know that important sounding responsibilities don’t mean shit. It’s a tough realisation when you’re young and looking to impress, anyone coming from the corporate world would find it incredibly confusing. After you’ve volunteered yourself to do the work of 5 people only to realise you can’t get a promotion when nobody has a job title it really hits you in the productivity.

Anyways, my point in all this was I get to interview students again and I won’t be making it easy for them. One of the perks of interviewing 18 / 19 year olds is that most of them have never worked in an office environment, their only experience of interviews is often what they’ve seen on American sitcoms. This allows me to ask essentially anything I want. The best part about the job I am interviewing for is pretty much any idiot could do it (it’s basically my job, but harder because I’ll give you all my work to do). Since any old idiot can do it, it really doesn’t matter who I pick; which means it really doesn’t matter what information I leave the interview room with. So, for this job my game is going to be ‘how many weird questions can I ask with a straight face’. I’ll still ask all the normal boring stuff, I’m just also going to slip in some of these gems that I’ve come up with so far:

  • As an equal opportunities organisation, is there anything in your heritage that might allow us to count you as a minority?
  • I’m interested in hearing more about your previous work experience. Why don’t you have any?
  • Do you have any animal handling experience?
  • Do I have anything stuck in my teeth? (When they answer pull a disappointed face and quickly scrawl a note).
  • We’re a startup company, so as you can imagine it’s a really fun vibe here. Do you like table tennis? OK, well table tennis is banned, so please leave that attitude at home we’re here to work not play.
  • I’ve written the salary we’d be willing to offer you on this piece of paper, I’d like to know what you think it is (whatever they say look stunned).

These are a few of my ideas, the rest I’ll improvise but you get the overall idea. When hiring an underling you really look for two things, obedience and a lack of any discernible talent. Skilled workers tend to get a little antsy about doing all of your tasks for you while you write a reader-less blog for your own ego.

Well look at that, a nice summary and a new paragraph, I bet you were thinking I was done talking about interviews didn’t you. WRONG. Second time in one day, you’ve been wrong about me! No now we’re talking about MY interviews, it’s an entirely different subject matter and you could do with showing me a little more respect.

My last two interviews have been video calls over Skype, which is a little strange, it doesn’t feel like you can really get a job when you’re sitting at home in a suit shirt and naked from the waist down. I did this for my last interview, I think I convinced myself it was a power move, a clever twist on  the old ‘envision your audience naked’ routine. It didn’t really matter, I was sitting down, they were sitting down. Hell I don’t know if my boss was wearing pants, I know I wouldn’t have been in his position, if I was the boss, pants would be outlawed.

Everything went well, the company information I had open in a Chrome tab and was reciting verbatim seemed to be going down a treat, as were all of my non committal responses to questions about my past jobs and skill set. “We’re hoping to find someone with a strong understanding of Android app development and the software life cycle”.  

“Ahhh  the old SDLC, also referred to as the application development life-cycle, this is a term used in systems engineering, information systems and software engineering to describe a process for planning, creating, testing, and deploying an information system. This article may require cleanup to meet Wikipedia’s quality standards.”

I think it was around this time when my wife came back early from work, there was a slightly awkward pause… She looked at me, looked at the screen and tried to interpret what I was saying with my eyes. It’s really difficult to say ‘please don’t ask me why I have my dick out, I need this job’ using just your eyes but I think I pulled it off. Luckily my boss is a big Finnish guy and not a cute blonde or I’d probably be unemployed right now.

Later she told me there was a moment before she remembered about the interview when she thought she’d finally outed me. I’m still not entirely sure what to make of that. Firstly my boss is a big guy, he would have definitely been the alpha, I’m not really offended that she has had doubts about my sexuality, but I’m a little offended that she assumed I would be the receiver rather than the pitcher if I was swinging in that particular league.