The Job Interview
June 13, 2008
Somewhat to my surprise, just about everyone in the room was a big Dr. Suess fan, and picked up on my reference to my favorite Dr. Seuss book.
I think I presented myself reasonably well. Unfortunately, it’s pretty clear to me (and I suspect to them) that the job would be a bit of a reach for me.
At one point, I said, “I don’t like it when someone gives me the “hard sell” treatment when they are trying to get me to buy something, so I won’t use a hard sell to sell myself.” At another point, the person who would be my assistant described a difficult problem I would have to deal with and asked me how I would handle it. I said, “This is a difficult problem. I won’t tell you I have a magic solution that will solve it with a snap of my fingers.”
Many years ago I was part of a group sales presentation from a small start-up company. They were trying to pick up a contract to provide some services to Intel Corporation. At one point, the Intel team presented a problem and asked us if we could handle it for them. The president of our company, who was bright and clever but a major jerk, said “Sure, we can do that.”
I later learned (from a fellow employee who later went to work for Intel) that the question had been a “set up.” They knew the problem was insoluble with the technology of the time. When my employer offered to solve it, they knew he was a lying fool and immediately made up their mind (correctly) not to hire us. Intel is a very smart company and plays very hard ball. (In a different context they suckered me once when my wife and I owned our own small business.)
However, in terms of my interview, I don’t know if I gained any points by giving them a realistic answer in regard to their difficult problem. Though when they mentioned another difficult problem, I had encountered that problem in my job and solved it a few weeks ago, so I did have a good answer.
The job is underpaid and under-supported. It’s a full time position (good), but they want someone who will work 1.5 of a job. As I spend four or five hours commuting in my car now; essentially wasted time, I suppose I could figure that’s time I could donate to their needs, but I don’t have a positive feeling about that idea. This job also involves a lot of driving and travel as well, though probably not quite as bad and expensive as my current one. They said the pay scale might be re-defined in six months, but they made no promises and the times being what they are, I am not optimistic about that prospect.
More troubling to me is that the job doesn’t play to my strengths. It’s basically administrative work; not a type of task I’ve ever liked or been especially good at. It would be a good job for a younger person at a point in their career where they don’t have many financial or personal obligations and are willing to live their job for a while because it will look good on their resume and they can use the opportunity to do a lot of good as well. I’ve worked under a couple such people in a previous job. (One of those younger supervisors later was hired by Intel as a matter of strange coincidence.)
If they offer me the job I will accept it, but it’s clear to me that such an offer on their part would be a sign they are desperate and when I accept, it would be a sign that I am desperate.
We live in desperate times.