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"The Microsoft Interview"

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Vanilla, Oct 17, 2011.

  1. MoreCowbell

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    I've worked in tech a little, so I know it's more laid back than most other places (I mean, shit, there were granny-porn based practical jokes at that office)...but does this not seem disrespectful to you? People are taking time out of their schedule to meet with you and it's presumably a stressful experience for them. Hell, for all you know, maybe they're in dire straights and really need this job. This makes it seem like you view the interviewee as a complete and utter waste of time.

    Maybe I'm just uptight and you'll probably respond with "Well that was the kind of office they were going into," but I'd be pretty pissed off if this happened to me. It seems like a minimum standard of decency to not turn their interview into a practical joke.
     
  2. redbullgreygoose

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    I do contract work, so I have pseudo-interviews all the time. I've only been asked the "biggest weakness" question once. My answer was:

    "In a world that's becoming more connected by technology everyday my biggest weakness is my lack of being fluent in more than one language. I would specifically like to learn Spanish, considering Miami is full of Spanish speakers and I'm required to interact with people on a daily basis. My weakness in this area is what motivated me to start taking Spanish classes at the university I attend (a lie, for the most part). "

    MY mom's boss suggested that technique when I was ten year old. She said the idea was to just find anything you're not good at and show them that you're willing to work on it. She said that the weakness was not the emphasis*, but the willingness to change that weakness is what the interviewer is looking for. It makes sense, so I guess I believe it. I 100% believed her when she said "I work too hard" is only better than saying "I'm completely unqualified for this job".

    I got the client though, so maybe that was the thing that pushed me over the edge.

    *Preferably it should be something that will improve your job but not something that would prevent you from being able to start right away. This of course is somewhat of a balancing act.
     
  3. ksp

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    This has been my go-to type of response now for a while:

    Katie Couric: What one personal flaw do you think might hinder your ability to be president?

    Barack Obama: I don’t think there’s… a flaw that would hinder my ability to function as president. I think that all of us have things we need to improve. You know, I said during the primary that my management of paper can sometimes be a problem.”

    You have to be able to state it in a way that there is a problem that won't detract from the job and that you have identified it and are working towards a fix
     
  4. JWags

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    I was in a business organization in school with a fairly rigorous interview process to get in. Around 150 kids would interview for about 25-30 spots each semester and I knew alot of smart kids who became super useful to the chapter who took 2 tries to get in, especially if they were younger when interviewing. But through that, I had 5 sessions of being on the other side of the table for an interview and that helped so much. I became so much more comfortable with the process.

    I used to like asking seemingly ridiculous questions, but my reasons were three-fold. 1) It gave the interviewee a chance to stand out. If you tripped up on what you wanted to be as a kid and why, or when I asked you to sell my notebook or that potted plant, or your favorite ice cream, I wasn't gonna hold it against you, but it gave you a chance to surprise or impress me with an answer. 2) I wanted some of these kids to loosen up. Ideally, an interview is supposed to give a snapshot of you as a future coworker/employee which is more than some mechanical representation of your resume and experience. It was amazing how different responses were once they got comfortable. 3) It kept me amused at no harm to the actual interview, which was much needed as 3 hours of boring tales of organizational skills, HS accolades, and the like were enough to make you stab yourself in the neck with your ballpoint.

    The worst part for me about asking questions at the end of the interview is that in 2 of 3 of the biggest interviews I've had, questions that I asked were answered with complete lies. That was pretty obnoxious.

    The best interviews I had were both the longest and most comfortable. My current manager and I talked for 45 min about all variety of things and he made it clear that my position was in flux and he cared more about understanding how we would work together as opposed to measuring a specific fit. The other was at a trading firm where I spoke to one of the managing partners for over an hour about all manner of things. I left wanting the position more than ever and still feel like my immaturity in not taking the position was the worst mistake I've made professionally (I had already accepted a different offer before this interview became available, and being newly graduated, I had some ridiculous sense of loyalty to a company that would ironically enough fuck me over 6 months later).

    My biggest weakness? Usually I will say that my organizational skills are a bit unorthodox but I'm working on it. Its true, I've never been clean or tidy with my desk, but I know where everything is. I get it from my Dad whose desk looks like a tornado hit it, but ask him about any document and he deftly pulls it out of a pile of rubble in seconds. Ive also said that my delegation skills are lacking at times, which is sort of true.
     
  5. scootah

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    There was certainly a dick element to it. But that particular office, we felt like dicks when we gave someone a job. It was a horrible place to work and every single one of us doing the interviews was looking for the nearest exit. We expected new starters to use up a years worth of sick days in 4 months, if they made it that long. About 20% of people who quit didn't have another job lined up - but just couldn't take it any more. About 40% of new starters didn't make their 8 week review because they'd found another job that didn't suck as much. And over the 12 months before I left the company, there was 140% turn over in the division we were interviewing for. I think we all probably felt like we were doing potential new hires a favor if we put them off enough that they decided not to take the offer.

    The job market here, especially for the kind of jobs we were interviewing for, was also nothing like the current market for say new graduates in the US. Anyone who was remotely qualified could have found other jobs on the same money in the area. Anyone who was actually good could have walked into a much better job. Most of the people we hired were either hopeless (the least awful applicant), or had something in their history that made it harder for them to find work and were taking the awful pay hoping to use the big name of the company to make their resume look better. Or like me, were interviewed by someone very nice, very polite and very respectful, who completely lied about the nature of the workplace and then had some kind of idiotic impulse to not leave people in the lurch even if every bit of common sense says 'run now!'. In retrospect - I do feel a little bad about it - but honestly I feel much worse about the couple of good people who I hired in that company.
     
  6. downndirty

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    I interviewed for a sales job at a Globo Gym replica in my hometown. The GM seemed really cool and he wanted me because I spoke Spanish and could tap into the Latinos in my area. I wasn't going to be a trainer, just a sales guy. I was told if I wanted to do training, I could ease into it later. I was called in to interview with him and the district manager. That day, he had some kind of emergency and I was told I'd interview with just the DM.

    He was this 25 year old former Marine who proceeded to walk me through a full workout in interview clothes. The exact moment I broke a sweat, I realized I was never working for this guy. I went through the workout, with him berating me for being out of shape, saying things like "I can tell you never were an NCAA athlete." and "we have high physical expectations at this company." At the end of the workout, that I completed in slacks, tie and dress shoes, we sat down at his desk and he tried to convince me to become a personal trainer "after 6 months of getting in serious shape". He gave me his girlfriend's card, who worked for some sort of Physical Trainer certification mill and told me "I should seriously think it over."

    The manager called me back and asked me how things went. I told him exactly why I was not going to think it over. Three months later, the place is out of business, and I had a corporate desk job that allowed me to do 3 hours of actual work each day.
     
  7. BL1Y

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    What's your greatest weakness?

    Interviews.
     
  8. Aetius

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    "What is your biggest weakness?"
    "I don't always answer questions"
     
  9. Disgustipated

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    An Australian law firm recently did it's first round of interviewing for summer clerkships via Twitter. They had all the applicants follow a specific account that would pose a new thing every day; sometimes it was a question and sometimes it was just a seemingly random post. The applicants then had to each come up with an appropriate response. They apparently did this for weeks and, as you can imagine, ultra-competitive law graduates starting getting ultra-competitive with each other.

    The thing is, there was apparently no "right" answers and a lot of it was designed to see how people could handle themselves and think laterally. Second round interviews, after narrowing the field down, will apparently be more traditional.

    Alt-focus: If you're going to bullshit your way through an interview, don't bother; unless you really don't want the job. Odds are you'll get found out pretty quickly and have to deal with a pissed off employer. If you are going to exaggerate, make it in the realms of believability and something not too far outside what you can cover. Then, at least if you do get caught, you can spin a story of badly wanting the opportunity to work there. It might not save you, but it could help.
     
  10. AlmostGaunt

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    I'm slightly odd, in that I actively enjoy interviews. I interview well, and (so far, touch wood) I'm 6/6. I'm a confident public speaker to begin with, and I suspect that being relaxed helps me out a lot, especially when the interviewer has just seen his 5th consecutive candidate stammer and stutter his way to an awkward silence.

    My best interview was for a position I was already in that was being made permanent for me. I was performing exceedingly well and the job was mine anyway, but as per HR regs they had to advertise and interview for it anyway. They stacked the panel with friends of mine, threw me softballs, and I was cracking jokes and having fun.

    "What is your biggest weakness?".
    "I could answer that question, but it's such a short list of trivialities that I'd fear to waste your time".

    This was followed with a stunned pause, and then delighted laughter. I'd love to have the balls to use it again, but my stock answer these days is "It's crucial to me that I continue to learn and improve my skillset. I'm intellectually curious, and quite honestly I don't perform at my peak with repetitive, mundane tasks. The key element I look for in my worklife is the opportunity to continue to expand my capabilities, which is why this job is so interesting to me." It is a slightly risky answer, but at this point in my life I have no interest in taking a soul-sucking admin job, and I'd prefer to save both parties a lot of time if the job is, in fact, mind-numbingly repetitive.

    In the job I mentioned above, I ended up interviewing candidates to work under me. I had no business interviewing anyone at 23, but my old boss was awesome, so I did. The panel was him, me, and our executive officer, a wonderful but totally mad 50 year old woman whose favourite word is 'cunt'. (Job was for an Business Analyst position, nothing that impressive, but $55k straight out of Uni.) We interviewed 10 people for 1 position, and my God there were some douchecanoes. First was a 21 year old private school kid who wouldn't shut up about his love for 'playing the markets', with the email address XDay_TraderXSimon@hotmail.com; second was a girl we liked and probably would have given it to if she could have avoided fainting from nervousness about 10 minutes in. After a few more of these, an incredibly attractive girl arrived and we ended up chatting about her travel experiences. I kid you not, we somehow got onto the topic of her showering habits with her boyfriend in places with water restrictions. It is almost certainly the least appropriate interview subject ever, but we all ended up absolutely dying with laughter. You'll be shocked to know she got the job.
     
  11. BL1Y

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    Just found out that the interview will be video (pushed back to tomorrow).

    What's the appropriate level of dress?

    Dress shirt no tie, shirt and tie, or shirt and tie and jacket?
     
  12. effinshenanigans

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    Your welcome.
     

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  13. Frank

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    Did you hear the one about the guy who didn't get an offer because he wore a tie to the interview?

    Neither have I.
     
  14. JC62

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    You should wear exactly what you would wear if you where interviewing in person - which you are, just virtually. Sounds like dress shirt, jacket and tie - there is no such thing as being over dressed for and interview - especially at a law firm. Make sure you wear pants in case they ask you to stand!
     
  15. lust4life

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    "What's your biggest weakness?"

    "Could you repeat the question?"

    "What's your biggest weakness?"

    "Have I been to the Preakness?"

    "WHAT'S YOUR BIGGEST WEAKNESS???"

    "Oh. Reading lips."
     
  16. Harry Coolahan

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    No way. You gotta compensate for the fact that a webcam will make you look way worse. In person you might look dapper wearing just a dress shirt, but on camera even a single hair on your head facing the wrong way will make you look like a slob.

    No such thing as overdressing, and if you're on webcam then you can be damn sure you're going to look a lot worse than you would in person.
     
  17. BL1Y

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    No such thing as over dressed? In that case I'm going to the Army surplus store, getting a ton of ribbons and medals and going African dictator for this thing!

    New question, still Skype video related: Would it be inappropriate to wear a headset? The sound quality would obviously be better, but of course, you're wearing a headset...so there's that.

    If this is their normal way of doing first round interviews, surely they must have a lot of people who have crappy connections, can't hear, can't be heard, etc, right? Would minimizing the tech issues outweigh the fact that you're wearing headgear to an interview?
     
  18. Nettdata

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    Wear the headset. Better to hear and be heard than worry about looking like an idiot.

    On that point, be sure that you're fully cognizant of your background. Do a trial run, and keep the anal lube out of the pic, and be sure the lighting gives your end a good picture.

    Try to frame your background so it's something that reflects positively on you. Your high school bedroom isn't a good corporate image. Neither is a background full of bottles, or your mom's knitting basket.

    Wear something that is camera friendly... avoid reds and shit that won't broadcast properly.

    Also kill any MSN or email apps that can interrupt you. Likewise your phone. Set your status to offline as soon as you sign on so your friends don't fuck with you. Even better, create a professional-use-only skype account that your friends don't know about. (Assuming you have friends... I gave you the benefit of the doubt there).

    Also, don't squirm or move around a lot, especially if you have shit upload speed from home. On that note, be sure that you kill all your other heavy network uses (torrenting, etc) when you're doing it. Try to get as good a signal as you can, because nothing is more annoying than having shitty sound/video during a chat.

    Little things totally unrelated to your qualifications can have an impact on this shit, especially with inexperienced or stupid interviewers.
     
  19. xrayvision

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    I'm sure this will be as awkward for them as it is for you. On one hand, you're dressing up to sit in front of the computer, but its still an interview. Its not as formal I wouldn't think, as an in person meeting.

    I personally, would put on a decent button down shirt and just not look like I feel out of bed. They really can't criticize too much because its pretty much a cunt hair above a phone interview. Obvious things I would do would be to get rid of any people (mom and dad) that might make any noise or cause a distraction during the Skype session. You wouldn't want her telling you that your PB&J is ready while your future boss decides if you are worthy.

    You might want to take down all your music posters and maxim calendars from the wall. The hanging solar system might wanna take a hike as well as the Star Wars wallpaper and life-size Chewbacca cardboard cutout.

    My .02

    edit: Damn you Nett
     
  20. Nettdata

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    I just can't believe that you're almost 30, a lawyer, and are still this fucking clueless about basic, common-sense shit.

    So let's stop with the "interview 101" shit from you, and focus on the, you know, focus.