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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
- Marc Heinrich

His posts are either funny or challenging. He is very friendly and nice.
- Rose Cole

[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
- C-Train

This post contains nothing that is of any use to me. What were you thinking? Anyway, it's probably the best I've read all day.
- David Kjos

Daniel, nicely done and much more original than Frank the Turk.
- Jonathan Moorhead

There are some people who are smart, deep, or funny. There are not very many people that are all 3. Daniel is one of those people. His opinion, insight and humor have kept me coming back to his blog since I first visited earlier this year.
- Carla Rolfe
 
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Friday, September 16, 2005
The interview - what happened...

I had my job interview yesterday.

I will qualify my post up front - I am already lucratively employed - that is, I don't hate the job I have and I have no desire to leave it unless they drive a truck load of money to my doorstep and demonstrate that I will be happier in the new job. I know, I know, you are thinking: Daniel mentioned the truck load of money first - that means he doesn't love God but instead loves only money. Silly you. No, that was just me catering to the common man's sense of humor. I simply mentioned it that way to my boss, and am now being true in the telling of it. What I am trying to say is that I am currently not in any need of a job, so that I wasn't going into this with my hat in my hand trying to obfuscate an unconscious "oh, please, please, please give me this job!" posture. I simply didn't need the job, and that gave me an unfeigned freedom during the interview - and I was therefore able to enjoy it muchly.

I should start by saying that I like to think of myself as a straight shooter - not so zealous that I would cross the street to tell someone I think they are unattractive, but uninhibited when it comes to things like job interviews - I am not going to "sell" myself to someone. My philosophy is that the goods should sell themselves, and dressing it up as something better would be dishonest.

So when I had to tell my boss about going to this interview, everyone wanted me to say I was going to a doctors appointment. As a believer in Christ, that doesn't fly with me, so I went in and asked for the time off so that I could go to this job interview. I explained that I wasn't really looking for another job or anything like that, but that I tossed a line out there and got a bite and felt obliged to answer it - just in case they were about to offer me a dream job. My boss was fine with that.

The interview was set for 3:30 p.m., but was bumped up to 2:30 p.m. the day before. I figured someone must have dropped out of the running (later I found out that this was the case). I ride my bike everywhere, so I had planned this all pretty much in adance. The day before I brought my dress pants to work - so I could work (and later ride to the interview) in my jeans, and change when I got there. The building is attached to a large mall (Portage Place in Winnipeg), and I reasoned that I could change in the bathroom of the food courts.

My office is perhaps 10 minutes away, so I left work about an hour before the interview (that is, around 1:30 p.m.). The ride down was uneventful - I took the scenic route away from all the traffic (Hey I may as well enjoy the ride right?), and I pulled up to their bike stand about ten minutes before two.

This being a very nasty area for bike theft, I locked my bike up tight, but forgot to take off my cycling computer (it was stolen by the time I got back). Then I headed to the mall to find the bathroom.

As I glanced up at the ridiculously overstated central clock in the mall - the one surrounded by daytime derelicts who come to the mall specifically to linger under the clock all day - it showed me that it was actually five minutes before two now. I turned to the right and entered into the food courts - walking past the daytime rabble - mostly street punks who are skipping school or were thrown out of school - and was careful not to make eye contact with anyone.

I have to qualify that for those of you who don't live in downtown Winnipeg. I studied Aikido for four years - it is a pretty effective martial art, and I was no slacker. I am also not a slight fellow - though I have lost some weight of late, I am still not a scrawny looking guy - on top of that I have some street smarts, that is, I know how to "look" tough - yet for all that, I am no fool. Yet in Winnipeg, it is considered a challenge in the gang culture to actually look at someone in the eyes - it is a staring contest that says, "I think I am so much tougher than you, that I am going to stare you down to prove it." Which is usually answered in one of two ways, the person holds your stare for an uncomfortably long time, then reasoning that ocular your boast is likely true, turns away in shame - or he calls you on it with the standard challenge, formed as a question, "Whatchoo lookin' at?"

So I made sure not to look at anyone as I hastened to the bathroom. Only the bathroom was walled off because of the latest greatest mall refurbishing project.

Okay, no problem. I start to wander the mall. Maybe there is a bathroom somewhere else? After a few fruitless laps, well, I have to be careful what I say here – I was in a mall… I mean after I made a few laps and found no bathrooms I tried the next floor – nothing.

Finally I saw a fellow who was mopping up somewhere and I determined to ask him about the problem. His tone suggested that he was used to answering this question by now – perhaps with an accompanying “urgency” dance, never the less, he informed me that on the next floor there were some bathrooms in operation – at the other end of the mall of course.

Naturally, being the only source of relief in the entire mall, the place was quite popular. There were people waiting outside – which wasn’t a good sign, but I wasn’t about to look elsewhere at this point. When I did get in, I found that there were only two stalls. The one stall that was open was the “non-wheelchair” one. The “wheelchair” was twice as big, and in my situation it was clearly the “Cadillac” of the two. Some fellow was in their already though, and seemed to be having a bit of a struggle.

Now, I don’t care what kind of noises I hear in a public john. Really. I mean it is like the great outdoors in a way – anyone who dares venture there for their business – they have earned the right (in my book) to make whatever noise they like – and do so at whatever volume they like. Notwithstanding, when the little metal dividers that separate you from whatever is happening on the other side shake and vibrate , well it is a little disconcerting. Not a good place to be if one is given to morbid curiosity. If looking at people in the eye is considered a fightin’ offense – daring to make eye contact with someone coming out of such a “noisy” is just wrong – there is some sort of etiquette that all men know – you just don’t look at the person, it’s just not done. They slip out like a shadow, no one looks – we all know what went on, but continue whatever we were doing in mime like silence.

When the fellow got up to leave, I hadn’t really started changing. It isn’t like I was just in there listening – it was a fairly cramped stall, and I was still sort of turning on the spot wondering how I was going to change in this little area. It seemed that the wheelchair stall was an afterthought and so to make it all work they cut the one stall down to one fourth of its original size, and added the other three quarters to the other stall – and when the fellow left I hesitated for a moment (to avoid eye contact of course – and frankly I didn’t want to know what he looked like…) then got out the narrow stall and into the broad one.

So now I am in the broad stall – but where the narrow stall at least had a hook on the back of the door to hang my back pack – this stall – for all its many banisters and towel racks didn’t have a jacket hook. I looked down. The floor was about as clean as you would expect. I determined I wasn’t going to go back in the other stall – even if I thought I could handle the limited space (really, you almost had to back up to get in…) I didn’t want the attendant multitude to get the impression that I was some guy who goes stall hopping in a crowded mall washroom – I am just shy that way I guess.

So I bite the bullet and start changing. Of course the stall beside me is immediately occupied at that point by the older brother of the former occupant of this stall – I will call him “Maestro” because he began to perform with such wanton abandon, I would have cried were my eyes already not so close to tears for other reasons.

Did I mention that the air conditioning wasn’t working – My freshly fumigated “dress” clothes were clinging to me by the time I got out of there.

I hastened out of the mall – staring occasionally at the smaller, weaker looking guys, but I got no takers. Outside I walked past my bike – that is when I noticed that my bike computer (A wireless speedometer and odometer) was stolen. Sigh – downtown - what can you do?

So I go in the building for my interview. Find the nearest elevator and stumble in behind two ladies going back to work after their smoke break. I politely say, “fourth floor” as they punch in their floor (six). They look at me like I am the biggest freak in the world. So I figure maybe I am being rude – you know, some people are very big into political correctness – perhaps asking a lady to press the button for your floor has become misogynistic and bigoted since the last time I used an elevator – I don’t know. So I hit the fourth floor button myself and apologize to no one in particular. The doors are closing as I do this. And the light doesn’t come on. I click it a few more times – politely at first, but with some frantic flair the next couple of times. The ladies intercede – “This elevator doesn’t go to the fourth floor.”

I wonder to myself – not with words, but that sort of rapid – all things in one glance kind of wondering - I realized suddenly why the fourth floor button wasn’t working, was thankful to have this information supplied even if it was less than timely, and wondered why they bothered putting a fourth floor button in the elevator in the first place – all in the same moment – even in the same thought.

The one lady continued, and she was really pleasant too, “You need to wait till we get off on six, then go back to the first floor, and go to the other elevators down that way (she points) and those one go up to four. Okay – weird building, but I can handle that. I still got a couple of minutes.

So I go down, find the elevators, press “4” and go up into “the maze.”

Seriously.

I roam around for a while and finally, smelling cheese at the end of one tunnel, I find the door to the HR office, fully expecting a bell to ring when I walk in. But instead I interrupt the receptionist who is involved in a conversation with perhaps the largest fellow I had seen in a long time. The guy was a mountain, and apparently she saw no danger in getting him extremely angry.

Okay – survival 101. When big, big guys, the kind that are generally so big that they really are teddy bears most of the time because no one is crazy enough to rile them up – when these guys get angry, you don’t stir the pot if you know what I mean. That is my interview is supposed to start in three minutes, but there is -NO- way that I am going to step in front of this guy and make that known – I am suddenly content to wait until this guy is done – even if I miss the interview.

The receptionist however sees my timely appearance as an opportunity to try some other “rage building” techniques, and stopping this guy in mid sentence she begins to give me her full attention. Okay, you know, and I know it isn’t my fault. And deep down even Mr. Krakatoa who is in mid-eruption must know that I have in no way instigated this intrusion into his rage driven query. In a slow, deliberate way, the big guy turns his head to look at who she is talking to. His one eye finds me and the brow above it raises a bit – and is that just a hint of a flair in his nostril?

Now, I am good at diffusing situations – and my instinct tells me that the best thing to do right now is dribble into my beard and pretend I am crazy. But instead I ignore the fellow – (maybe the receptionist can get me through the outer perimeter and behind that big secure looking door?) and just give her my name. She hands me a clipboard and tells me to fill out this form and give her back the clip board when I am done.

For some reason, the mountain grumbles a bit then goes and sits down and starts filling out a much larger form – all the while rumbling to himself like a storm that is about to break.

I go and fill this out, takes me a couple of minutes, and hand it back. Then I sit there for 30 long boring minutes – well, I did get to listen to the other guy rumble and cuss. Occasionally he would shuffle through his wallet for some significant piece of paper, or number – but other than that it was now waiting time.

When the door finally opened, some other big guy was coming out. He was not as big as the first fellow, and far nicer dressed. This was clearly the “previous” interview. The HR lady was with him. You can always tell the HR ladies – they where three piece suits or grandma dresses – there is no in between. This was the three piece suit kind. Her suit was a black suit with grey pinstripe. Nice touch. She was the picture of apology as she said good by to this fellow, and seeing me there motioned that she was abysmally sorry at how long I had had to wait and that she would only be two more minutes – thrusting the victory sign at me passionately – thankfully I am not English.

When she did come back – about five minutes later, I can respect that. She was saying two minutes with both hands – maybe it was a math test – you know, 2 minutes on the left, 2 on the right – and a minute to come and get you.

I followed her in, and she introduced me to the other interviewers.

Government positions are always “panel” interviews. To be almost every I.T. job I have held has been a panel interview – I take that back – every I.T. job I have held required a panel interview – it is just the way they do them. If you have never had one, let me tell you, they basically sit you down at the head of a long table, and anywhere from two to six people grill you for an hour.

The HR lady’s name was “Mika” – the one with the pinstripes. She was in her early thirties, and seemed approachable but still had that HR gloss. She explained how government interviews worked – the questions are dreamt up beforehand and scripted. Everyone is asked the same questions – the answers are weighted, such that you could bomb in some areas and it wouldn’t matter, but doing poorly in some areas could sink you right away. You can go back at any time and revisit a question; we are going to go around and around asking you questions, then at the end you can ask some questions.

I broke in, “Can I ask a question now?”

“Um, sure…” – I liked that. Clearly these were not written in stone rules.

You see, I knew that I lacked the requisite skills for this position – the only reason I got the interview is because I know that HR is often slack when they flip through a stack of a hundred or more resumes. They don’t bother looking at the resumes – they just count the buzzwords on the cover sheet. I learned that first hand when I had to go through stacks of resumes and pick five to interview. Eventually you just scan the cover letter for the primary buzz words – and everyone who has them all survives the first cut. If there are few who make the cut, you get an interview just because you have th buzzwords.

That is why I make sure that every single buzz word in the add finds its way into the cover letter – even if it is just to say, “I never used such and such before, I have no idea what so and so means, and I can’t even spell “x” or “y”. This is something I had to do for this cover letter. So I knew I wasn’t in the running because of my skills. That meant that if I was going to get an offer it would have to be won through sheer personality. I liked that.

My first question then before we began was, “Does anyone normally leave at three thirty?” – because I knew I was the last interview. I was originally scheduled for 3:30 – and they phoned me back and bumped me up to two thirty – that meant there was a cancellation. Normally they wouldn’t bother rescheduling me – except if someone wanted to get out at their usual time…

Greg, a wild haired, red nosed guy with a broad grin and a cheap suit was seated one chair down from Mika on the left – raised his hand sheepishly with a grin to which Mika playfully commented, “Yeah, Greg has his clubs in the car and is just itching to get out of here.” Greg’s reply was more serious than playful, “You are more right than you know.”

That was good. I knew where these two stood. I was the last interview of the day, and they had obviously connected on some comradely level earlier in the day – their “punchiness” was a good sign. Chuck was the other guy – the guy on the right. He was older, taller, wore a well trimmed beard and a blue tweed suit. Unlike Greg, he had the air on one who was used to (and even comfortable) wearing a suit. His teeth were somewhat yellow, well, stucco colored I guess. I am not a dentist, but I noticed that they weren’t sparkling white. Maybe it was just that (because his hair was prematurely white) his smile was unfortunately centered in the midst of a silky white mustache and beard – the contrast was less than flattering. His handshake was genuine though – and I liked that.

The first few questions were technical – and I handled them well enough. I was thankful that there was no pressure on my part to sell myself to these people. When Mika asked, the standard HR style question, “Tell me why you are the best person for the job” I answered honestly, “Actually, I am not the best person for the job – that would be my buddy Chris who was supposed to have applied for this job but chickened out. In fact, the only reason I applied was out of a desperate fear that you would hire him and I would inherit all his work!” By that time I had a bit of a report with them. They laughed and she pressed it, “Okay, why are you the second bestguy for the job?”

I just got clean with them, I said, “I am not going to sell myself to you. Really, you want someone who is going to hit the ground running – and you might even find someone like that – but frankly that isn’t going to matter six months down the road when you have to live with the person you picked. The people that will make you the most happy are the ones that don’t let you down year after year. I am not selling myself to you as the best guy for this job – I am giving myself to you as an honest guy who isn’t going to lie to get the job. If you’re looking for honesty and a “stick to it” team attitude, I might be worth your while, but if you are hiring this position looking for some gun slinger, my pistols are empty” – or something similar. It was fun because I was being honest, and the tone was warm, friendly and even conversational.

There were many laughs, and much smiling through out – I criticized them a bit for hiring a term to learn WebSphere – there is bound to be some resentment in their ranks that they are hiring someone to work in the newest technologies while the rest of them get rusty – it would be better to move one of there existing people into this project and give them the new skill and use the term position to cover the vacant position.

The final note was me saying I didn’t think I was the fellow they were looking for. They were really looking to get cutting edge consultant skills at bargain barrel prices – and that wasn’t going to be easy, and I am certainly not up to spec with the latest kung fu. I thanked them for a wonderful interview, and left feeling great.
posted by Daniel @ 3:49 PM  
4 Comments:
  • At 5:13 PM, September 16, 2005, Blogger Elea the Bard said…

    What a great post. I was completely entertained. I also know the feeling of walking into a job interview you don't need and not feel the need to please. Thank you for your prose.

     
  • At 5:24 PM, September 16, 2005, Blogger Daniel said…

    Thanks! I had more fun talking about it afterwards than actually when I was there. People over here freak out when you don't sell yourself for a job. ;)

     
  • At 5:54 PM, September 16, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Some excellent interview advice here, seems to me! But MY, the getting to that place...that is a nightmare!! A very bad dream!! I hate frustrations like that!

    Hope this will all pan out well for you in the future, either with a new job, or maybe have the boss where you are look at you a bit differently...you know surely that if you did not feel overworked...perhaps you would not have wasted the time to go do this. My hubby is one of these kind of people...who always inherits TONS of work...somehow he must come across as terribly competent or lazy and lacking something to do!! Most every job he has ever had has come to this point! But he has not been as frank as I would be either...but then he also has the responsibility to take care of the family too, so has not had such choices really. Eventually, once youngest is either done with college and in a job or married, perhaps he will feel more free to do whatever..
    Elizabeth

     
  • At 7:22 AM, September 17, 2005, Blogger Daniel said…

    Elizabeth - the preamble for me at least, was as funny as the interview. I have a palm pilot, and I had considered recording the audio of the interview - but I felt that it would be dishonest to record people unawares, and it might feel awkward for the interviewers if I asked to record it. But I sure wish I had because the interview was quite fun - well, for me at least.

     
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