Celtic Riverside – The Online Journal of James Keenan

The Honest Job Interview

(These questions are courtesy of a Glassdoor article on the most common interview questions.)

1) What are your weaknesses?

I’m a perfectionist workaholic with a strong moral compass who is terrified of failure and avoids risk because my Imposter Syndrome is nothing compared with the total loss of self I’d feel when actually failing at work.

2) What are your strengths?

In the words of Michael Scott, my weaknesses are actually my strengths. Not for myself of course. Personally it constitutes a personality disorder known as OCPD. But from the perspective of an employee they are strengths because I’m a tool you can work to the nub.

3) Why are you interested in working for [insert company name here]?

You’re hiring for the sort of thing I know how to do and I could use the money. All of the things I need not to die like housing, food, healthcare, and paying off these student loans is becoming more and more expensive.

4) Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten years?

Looking for the next job because stagnating in one position for too long is career suicide, assuming the company doesn’t do a mass layoff in the meantime, and modern capitalism has erased the middle manager so there’s not much of a corporate ladder left.

5) Why do you want to leave your current company?

The same reasons I just gave for why I will probably need to entertain the idea of leaving this company in a few years.

6) What can you offer us that someone else can not?

I don’t know. I haven’t spoken with the other applicants.

7) What are three things your former manager would like you to improve on?

Sharing my opinions more during meetings, having more discretion about raising concerns during meetings, and I suppose understanding that my concerns do not count as opinions.

8) Are you willing to relocate?

No, I moved here because we wanted to live here. If I wanted to live there we would have done that.

9) Are you willing to travel?

Recreational. Professionally? Maybe on for the occasional event.

10) Tell me about an accomplishment you are most proud of.

At 33, I am relatively healthy, not homeless, and in possession of a savings account despite living in the United States.

11) What is your dream job?

They set clear objectives for what they would like to see me do and offer a reasonable compensation package the allows for a work-life balance, such as being able to do something other than work, not become homeless if I get sick or injured, and have something saved so that I can retire before I die. I come in, do my job well, and go home after a reasonable number of scheduled hours.

12) How did you hear about this position?

People have not stopped talking about this company or this opportunity. Just kidding – I’ve been scouring LinkedIn, Indeed, Monster, hell, even Craigslist for hours every single day looking for anything that seems like a reasonable match.

13) What would you look to accomplish in the first 30 days/60 days/90 days on the job?

Probably orientation, some basic training, and the successful completion of my probationary period. At the 3-year mark with most of my previous employers they wanted me to keep quiet and do as told, so I don’t know why we’re pretending I’m going to make a huge splash within 90 days. I’ll be happy if IT can get my voicemail system working.

14) Discuss your resume.

I compose it in Microsoft Word and then sometimes save it as a PDF. A professional helped with the formatting and layout, but the details are all from my prior experience. I didn’t have to get creative about it because it’s literally a list of things I’ve actually done.

15) Discuss your educational background.

High school, then community college, and then a 4-year college because most jobs that offer a livable wage require at least a Bachelor’s degree. Some want a Master’s but the cost of the additional study did not match with the increased earnings for me, so that made little sense. I’m extremely bright and knowledgeable in several areas that have nothing to do with my professional experience because the job market values things I’m not as passionate about, like spreadsheets and SQL rather than history or helping people. So my degree is not an educational accomplishment so much as a very expensive 4-year license to apply to basic office jobs once considered entry-level with no college degree required.

16) Tell me how you handled a difficult situation.

One time during an interview I provided all of the answers that I was supposed to give rather than an honest assessment of my skills or personality because even human resources is a mass-production operation now and conforming to that expectation goes much further than being a genuine individual during the application process.

17) Why should we hire you?

Not hiring me would make this a waste of time for me and I’ll just have to repeat the process with someone else until either I get lucky or someone I know can help me bypass the bureaucracy and place me directly into a position.

18) Why are you looking for a new job?

So that I can move away from the old one and ideally earn a slightly better living. If I stay put I will eventually be underpaid or unemployed, so I’m trying to stay ahead of that.

19) How would you deal with an angry or irate customer?

Professionally. I’m not the one whose corporate policies and attitude have upset them, but I’m in a unique position to help a fellow citizen who probably has to go to work the next day and deal with angry or irate customers themselves.

20) What are your salary requirements?

As much as you can possibly provide without it being so high that you decide to go with a lesser qualified candidate simply because you don’t have to pay them as much – provided what you offer can actually cover a reasonably comfortably lifestyle.

21) Give a time when you went above and beyond the requirements for a project.

Literally every time. Sometimes it’s because the project supervisor had a political axe to grind and pushed everyone harder than was necessary, sometimes it was because the scope and requirements were poorly communicated so we overshot them without even realising it, and the rest of the time because I was afraid if I did not squeeze every ounce of blood from the stone it would be held against me during performance reviews as a reason to withhold raises or advancement opportunities.

22) Who are our competitors?

A, B, and C – but I don’t particularly care other than to demonstrate this basic awareness of the industry. I’m not here to stick it to them or earn profits for you, I’m here to earn a salary by doing my job to the best of my ability. I was hoping upper management would handle the other stuff.

23) What motivates you?

The constant anxiety and despondence of being a young professional with student debt in America today, knowing that one medical incident, one financial miscalculation, or one economic wind change could throw me onto the street or into prison.

24) Tell me about a time when you disagreed with your boss.

I was under the impression that while my opinion and criticism was important, I was not meant to share those in any meaningful way because they already had a set plan in place.

25) How do you handle pressure?

At work? Fine, I think. It’s nothing compared with the pressure of just being alive anymore.

26) What is the name of our CEO?

John, Michael, Steve…some white guy name. Just a guess but statistically the most likely what with executive positions existing based on leadership and talent rather than some awkward combination of money and entitlement.

27) What are your career goals?

Survive long enough to retire for a few years before dying.

28) What gets you up in the morning?

The understanding that if I do not grind it out every single day I will not survive long enough to retire for a few years before dying.

29) What would your direct reports say about you?

“It’s a miracle he hasn’t died yet.”

30) Are you a leader or a follower?


31) What is your favorite website?

The corporate website for this company. Kidding. Twitter. A handful of people there help me maintain my sanity because it reminds me that I’m in this cluster**** with countless others.

32) What makes you uncomfortable?

Anything that involves other people and ridiculous social games that determine my overall wellness – job interviews, for example, where I’m supposed to give certain answers to questions that you either expect or that dress up who I am as the best possible human resource rather than as a human being.

33) What do you like the most and least about working in this industry?

I like that it stopped short of monopoly at oligarchy, but I’m not crazy about the way it continues to consolidate ownership and power to profit a few at the expense of literally everyone else while lobbying the government at every level to enable further that effort.

34) Would you work 40+ hours a week?

If I had to, though generally that is unnecessary. Not only to people become less productive at that point, the reason work spills over into the 40+ area is usually poor management. If I have 34 hours of work to do each week and wind up stuck here 40, 45, 50+ hours because of inefficiencies beyond my control, I will not be happy.

35) What questions haven’t I asked you?

How many rocks are there?

36) What questions do you have for me?

Why are you doing this to people?

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