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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

World of work

Some weeks ago, I read an article about how some (younger) people who go on an interview wearing what few experts would recommend. I might have taken it as a bit of a joke, except a friend of mine told me that a guy showed up to an interview he was conducting wearing shorts. My friend was inclined to dismiss him, except that he was quite intelligent and qualified. During the Q&A, the applicant asked, "Can I wear shorts to work?" The answer was no, but he was hired and he has worked out well.
I came across this list of unusual questions to ask in an interview from a usually reliable source, but at least a couple would never get past most Human Resources departments. One was "How about those Yankees?" (or other sports team), which may be perceived as sexist; an alternative, asking about the hot/cold/wet weather, seemed like a better idea.

Then there was a question about asking a really oddball question, just to see the reaction, and if the answer's not too long or too short (whatever that means), that's good. One suggestion: asking how many phone books there are in New York City. Of course, if I were answering it, I'd know there are about 8 million New Yorkers, meaning roughly 3 million households, and about 98% of all households have a phone. There are people with only cellphones that may not have phone books, but then there are offices with multiple phone books. Having no real idea, I'll surmise that there at least as many business phone books as residential, so I'd say 6 million. I would be one of the people that would go on too long.

An alternate question: how do they get the cream filling in a Twinkie? (If you're ever asked this, BTW, it's described in the Wikipedia post for Twinkies.)
When the Job Isn't What You Expected. As the guide noted: "The thing is, you never really know what a job's going to be like until you start. I've had friends take jobs that wound up having absolutely nothing to do with the job description they'd gotten in the interview. It's like they wandered into the wrong building and sat down at someone else's desk, and no one noticed the mistake."
For those of you who don't read Mark Evanier, the lyrics to The New Battle of New Orleans by Ray Stevens, who has performed a wide range of serious and silly songs. Disappointing, to say the least. BTW, he is number 160 in my Billboard Top Pop Singles artists 1955-2002, right between Def Leppard and Gene Pitney, though he doesn't rank in the Billboard albums book.



EM said...

For one interview I did recently, one of the interview panel was wearing torn jeans and flip flops. The other two were wearing sweats. If I ever do find something new, I'll write about the whole experience.

GayProf said...

I have seen many illegal questions posed to job candidates at my former Texas institution. I think the academic world is still well behind what is acceptable (or, again, legal) in the other sectors.