Iâ€™ve been looking for work since March. Itâ€™s the oddest market Iâ€™ve ever looked for work in, though perhaps I have to take some responsibility for that because I have become very, very picky. I wonâ€™t take Microsoft contracts where the manager really wants a full time employee but couldnâ€™t get the head count because those just lead to frustration. I wonâ€™t take long term projects (more than six months) for the same reason. I try to avoid the tobacco and napalm sector because while I canâ€™t really afford to dedicate my income to doing good work, I can avoid being actively evil. (Luckily, thatâ€™s not too big of a problem in my market, but with the recent civil rights fiasco coming out of Redmond, one canâ€™t help but wonder where to draw the line.)
At any rate, Iâ€™m still unemployed, though donâ€™t cry for me Argentina, this is the lot Iâ€™ve chosen by committing to work as a freelancer, plus, itâ€™s not like Iâ€™ve run out of leads. My phone continues to ring, emails come inâ€¦ something is bound to turn up. The stress of being out of work for longer than Iâ€™d planned is difficult, but I do believe it will pass.
But that is not what I started out to write about. What I wanted to say was this: Iâ€™ve been doing a lot of interviewing lately. And I have been shocked, no really, shocked speechless by the things people have said to me in interviews over the past two months. Iâ€™ve been tracking to see if they can get any worse, and lo and behold, to my stunned surprise, they CAN.
Before I get into the finger-pointing, I should remark that I have been replaying these interviews in my mind to see if I too, perhaps, couldnâ€™t use some pointers. Iâ€™ve decided that I should probably stop saying that â€œI suck at bidding entire jobs, I prefer to bill hourly because I have no idea how long your project is going to take, plus if I bid the entire job, you are going to waste my time.â€ I should probably amend that to â€œI like to work with the client to figure out how long things are going to take and then settle on a not-to-exceed amount with revisions if needed.â€ That sounds better, no? Iâ€™ve been pondering a way to address my philosophy around working at home. Itâ€™s not that Iâ€™m a slacker; I am a very hard working person who has a reputation delivering good work on time. Itâ€™s just that I think people waste so much time in offices and meetings and that most work could be done in a good 30% less if we could just be left alone to do it. This is tougher to figure out how to talk about because most corporate identities think that â€œworking at homeâ€ = “playing hooky.â€ Iâ€™d rather bill less hours and have the 30% extra to, oh, hone my baking skills or go skating at Alki or, well, anything else. Iâ€™m pondering how to talk about that. Iâ€™m thinking that I should have handy the answer to those generic interview questions that people ask â€“ â€œTell me about a timeâ€¦â€ or â€œTell me about yourselfâ€¦â€ because they inevitably come up. Iâ€™m fishing around in my experiences over the last two months to see if I can come up with anything else I could change about my side of the process.
So. That said, let me tell you about a handful of things that people have said to me in recent interviews that have left me, well, wondering what I am doing there.
- I canâ€™t promise I wonâ€™t micromanage you.
This will send me running for the door every single time. There is no worse manager (for me) than a micromanager and it wonâ€™t end well, no sir. Just ask that one guy. Man.
I like to do spot checks on my employeeâ€™s work to see what theyâ€™re up to.
What is this, second grade? Are there pop quizzes too? Why donâ€™t you just ask me? You apparently do not trust me to do my job.
- I never meet my deadlines; Iâ€™m always scrambling at the last minute to get stuff done.
As a person who meets deadlines religiously, itâ€™s probably a bad idea for me to work with someone who canâ€™t. Also, if that person is my superior in the chain of command, weâ€™re going to have real issues around R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
- We never deliver our anything on time.
- We hate these offices.
There is nothing that makes a prospective employee feel less like joining in when you know that the folks that are there hate where they have to be all day.
But wait, thereâ€™s more. The rest, are here in the form of requests. Please, please, please donâ€™t compare yourself to a remarkable figure in history. I beg you not to do this; itâ€™s going to kill your credibility dead beyond recognition. Donâ€™t ask me probing questions about my personal life â€“ theyâ€™re seldom relevant and often, theyâ€™re not legal. If Iâ€™m not the right person for your job, please tell me so right away, you will not hurt my feelings and I only want to be successful at what I do, so save us both the time, okay?
After all these bad interviews, I wonder if I am ignoring my own advice. I should be putting a stop to these things right away, as soon as it becomes clear that I am not, in a million years, going to take this project, not for love or money. I should have thanked the micromanager at that very moment and said that I didnâ€™t think weâ€™d be a good match. I should have put a stop to the inappropriate questioning immediately instead of fishing around in my head for neutral responses. I should just put the brakes on that stuff and head for the door. Currently Iâ€™m regretting that I didnâ€™t respond the way I really felt in a number of those situations. I try not to kill my job prospects by saying â€œThat is the most stupid and outrageous thing Iâ€™ve ever heard in an interview.â€ Thing is, I have learned over the last two months that itâ€™s probably NOT the most outrageous and stupid thing Iâ€™ve ever heard. There is probably more to come.