Thanks for the Interview, it was a Waste of Time

Co-op (co-operative education) is where a student, such as myself, works full-time instead of attending class. In other words, I’m in class like a normal uni student from January through June. July through December, however, I work full-time in a professional career related to my major. I repeat this three times before I graduate. This year will be my second co-op.

The benefits are numerous, but the one I’ll focus on today is the practice and familiarity with formal interviews. I went on three interviews last year before I got offered the position I later accepted. Two of those interviews went wonderfully, but the third was absolutely horrific.

To help me prepare for my interviews tomorrow and Thursday, I’ll go over some basic interview tips, using last year’s horrific interview to highlight why such tips are important.

Interview Tip 1: Always visit the location before the day of your interview so you know how to get there.

They didn’t tell me the address of the office until the day before my interview, so a dry-run was out of the question. They also gave me driving directions, which are useless to me. Predictably, I ended up completely lost, but it wasn’t entirely  my fault. The street signs were in fact backwards and pointed me in the exact wrong direction.

Interview Tip 2: Have a contact number in case you get lost or are running late.

I did have a contact number. I called when I realized I was lost. No one answered. I asked the man in a gas station for help instead.

Interview Tip 3: Always arrive early.

Five minutes before my interview was scheduled to start, I finally found the office building. The front door was locked, there was no doorbell or intercom system, and nobody was outside to tell me how to get in. I called again and again got no answer. I left a voicemail and got a call back in a few minutes.

The woman told me you can’t actually see the entrance from the direction I came from, which is also the direction the driving directions told me to come from. She hung up on me before I had actually found the entrance. By the time I got inside and signed in on the second floor, I was five minutes late for my interview.

Interview Tip 4: Always dress for success and maintain a positive attitude.

It was incredibly windy that day. After an hour and a half of wandering around in my suit and heels, my hair was a tangled mess, my cheeks and eyes were red, and my feet were very very sore. If I didn’t want the position to begin with, I most certainly did not want it now, but I was there and had to put on my best face nonetheless.

Interview Tip 5: Always know who you’re interviewing with.

They had never actually told me who I would be interviewing with or who to ask for at the front desk. They had me fill out paperwork while they figured it out. Once they found the guy who was to interview me, they had me go downstairs to an empty office for the interview. I refer you to tip 4 in which I state my feet were very very sore.

After his questions, he left to find the next interviewer. He came back a few minutes later and told me he didn’t know who was supposed to interview me next. I had to go back up to the second floor until they figured it out. The next guy’s first words were “Why don’t we go downstairs?” At this point I had already gone up one flight to sign in, down two flights for my first interview, up two flights to sit and wait, and now I had to go down the same two flights of stairs. Again.

Interview Tip 6: Always ask relevant questions.

On my first interview, I was so frazzled and uninterested, my mind went blank when my interviewer asked if I had any questions. I couldn’t ask nothing, I knew that much. So I asked the first question that came to mind: “Is that a lamp?” Derp.

Interview Tip 7: Answer questions to the best of your ability.

My second interview contained both statistics and programming questions. I actually like statistics and did very well in the course, but I had no clue how to answer his question. I still don’t. The programming question, however, was a barrel of laughs. The question was as follows:

You have an ordered list of numbers from one to one hundred, but there is one number missing. Write a Java program that takes that list and returns the ordered list with all numbers.

My answer:

Can’t I just write a program that returns an ordered list from one to one hundred since the output is the same no matter what number was missing?

Yeah that interview went well.

Interview Tip 8: Always send thank-you notes to everyone who interviewed you.

Tchyeah. Right. Like after that ordeal I’d thank them for giving me useless directions, not answering my calls, sending me up and down stairs because they didn’t know what else to do, and making me feel like a complete idiot. Granted, I could probably manage the idiot part of that on my own, but that doesn’t excuse how overtly rude they were to me.

I didn’t send thank-you notes. I didn’t get the job. I don’t care.

Here’s hoping tomorrow’s interview goes well!


About Squishy

Writer, dancer, gamer, and admirer of all that is beautiful.

Posted on February 22, 2011, in Education and Work and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I remember that episode quite well. Good luck tomorrow!

  2. You always seem to have the most topical blog posts, I muse as I wait on my second day for a call from the places I applied for my first job at. I don’t imagine their interviews will be even a shade as bad as that one sounds, though. I’ll have to wait until my own co-op in a few years to experience that. Good luck with your interview!

    But I have to ask…Was it in fact a lamp?

    • It was! A very strange lamp, at that.

      And for the record, most interviews go much better than the one I rant about here. It’s just so much fun to pick on the things that go wrong! What use are bad days if you can’t laugh about them later?

  3. So true about the bad old days. I am in a little late. I hope the interview went well.

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