Tuesday, 10 June 2014

The job interview is a joke

It is fairly clear that I would not be able to get a job with Rockwell (a web hosting company) or the Kerry Group (food ingredients company).

This is because I would have to answer, in the selection interview,  "How would you react if you were shot in the head with a Nerf gun?" (Rockwell) or "Is a Jaffa Cake, a cake or biscuit ?" (Kerry). Since I do not know what a Nerf Gun or Jaffa Cake is, it can be safely assumed that I would flunk the interview.

The Glassdoor Blog chronicles each year the weirdest questions that companies have been known to ask in interviews. It of course makes extremely interesting reading and I would strongly recommend it instead of that useless report you are writing at this minute ! How would you answer to ""How many square feet of pizza is eaten in the US each year?" (Goldman Sachs !), or  "Can you instruct someone how to make an origami "cootie catcher" with just words?" (Living Social), or, "If you were a pizza deliveryman how would you benefit from scissors?" (Apple)

Apparently these seemingly weird questions are designed to assess "creativity" and "lateral thinking". Bullshit. Anybody who says he  can fathom creativity from an answer to a weird question in a pressure cooker artificial setting like an interview is just fibbing.

Long time readers of this blog would know that this blogger rather enjoys needling HR types. It has just been noticed that this breed has been spared a long time from good natured ribbing. So this post is to "restore the balance"!

I am of the opinion that the unified theory in astrophysics will be solved before we can fathom what goes on inside the recruitment department of a company.  As anybody who has ever sent a CV to a company knows, even black holes cannot match the disintegrating capability of a HR department. CV's vanish without a trace - has anybody ever got an acknowledgement of a CV ever ? And then by some miracle unexplained, you will get a call at 11.14 in the night requiring you to be present for an interview at 6.24 in the morning the very next day in a location 83 miles away from your home. By heroic efforts you land at the spot at 6.15 only to find that the office is locked and won't open till 9.30 AM. You hang around not wanting to miss the opportunity. At 10.00 the office is opened and you are ushered into a windowless room and told to cool your heels. Hours come and go by and you realise you have been forgotten. You timidly approach the security guard again and remind him that you have been sitting bolt upright for the last four hours without even going to the loo. He takes pity on you and promises to inform the HR department. 3 hours later a lady of gargantuan proportions barges in and orders you to proceed for an interview . You land in another room and wait for another half an hour. A constipated owl enters, mobile to the ear, and proceeds to finish a call for the next 15 minutes. Sundry suits land up. The interview is supposed to begin. The interviewers realise that they have no idea what they are interviewing for. Of course, they haven't seen your CV. They don't even know your name. They take your copy of the CV from you and start skimming. And they ask you to begin narrating your background in your own words because they are illiterate and can't read your CV.

I challenge any HR type to prove that this is not an accurate reflection of the truth.

And then, if you are asked "Can you say: "Peter Pepper Picked a Pickled Pepper" and cross-sell a washing machine at the same time?" (Mastercard), I declare that it is acceptable grounds for defence against a charge of murder !!


  1. Kalpana11/6/14

    lol. I have been through the exact same :) Not just once!

  2. @Kalpana - Poor you :)

  3. I've once asked a nerdy looking candidate (Obviously for a bean counter role) how many matchboxes would be needed to place the sticks one after the other to reach the moon. This was not a flippant trick question! All I wanted to see was his ability to logically structure an answer. And he said: 1 matchbox = 50 sticks, 1 stick = 2cm, I match box = 100cm, 1000 boxes to a km, 365,000km to the moon, 365million boxes, all answered in precisely 60 seconds. I loved the bloke's thinking and hired him! I see nothing wrong with these kinds of questions!

  4. @Kiwi - Good Lord. Tell me who this bloke is and I'll run a thousand miles away from him - he's scarily brainy :):)

  5. Anonymous11/6/14

    Exkalibur 666: I have had situations where i had to wait for hrs as u described.. i have also had situations where a CV i had rejected post an interview came back to me again more than once. Also heard of offer letters going to rejected candidates!!!!

  6. Haha! Not sure if my boss (the one you know) ever shared this interview story. He and this HR person were interviewing a girl for a position in our dept. and the HR person asked her how her relationship with her MIL was? :D:D my boss fell off his chair. The logic was to figure out this girl's compatibility quotient with difficult people and her interpersonal skills.

    @Million miler- I am so glad Saket interviewed me. Even I am curious about this person now. There were a few nerdy seniors in that band.

  7. Anonymous12/6/14

    LOL :) you missed one important process, gargantuan breed will give few sheets to carbon copy the CV with own handwritting, this really tests anyones patitence.

  8. I now all the more am convinced that the academic world is not as much as mental institution as is your corporate hell! ;)

  9. @Exkalibur - Ha Ha - Offers to rejected candidates ??? If only somebody knew how to "ensure" that, he doesn't have to ever fear unemployment :)

    @Deepa- That happened ??? Wow ! By the way, if the question Kiwi had asked, had been asked to you, I have no doubt that you would have answered in 25 seconds :):)

    @Anon - Copy on carbon sheets ??? That's too much and deserves a special award :)

    @Sriram - Mental cases everywhere ....

  10. Deepa, Ramesh, that boy shall remain unnamed. All I can say is he is a very quiet unassuming bloke, subtle and earthy sense of humour, feet firmly planted on the ground and a sensible head on his shoulder!

  11. ALOL..was so bored @ work and it being Friday n all...remembered your blog and read the post...couldn't help but comment (usually I'm too lazy :))

    I think it is very easy for a person being interviewed to judge someone who's interviewing, its a very tough job to select the right candidate and any number of weird questions aren't enough sometimes. Anybody can answer the regular subject matter questions. People who actually patiently answer the weird questions are not mad, they're just down to earth, confident, optimistic IMO.

    Colleagues around r wondering why did she LOL :D I shud tell them something now...

  12. @Kiwi - ZSensible head ???? Anybody who does that sort of maths in his head is "not sensible" :):)

    @Rads - Hey ; delighted to see you back here. Woo Hoo - we shall put The Million Miler to interview with you :)

    What has happened to you in Bangalore that you completely disappeared off the blogworld. COME BACK :)


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