“Be serious! You only have one chance to make a good impression.” He continued.
“The secret to success, is to read them before they read you. Companies are faceless corporations. Pure evil. Ready to toss you down the deadwood-chute the moment you cease to be useful or in your case, if they don’t like you.”
“However in the end companies are run by people. Now, people are not evil but quite likable or at least, that is what you want them to believe. Everyone loves to feel they are better than everyone else: Special. Even if they don’t admit it.”
“I fear a sense of horrible irony in what I am about to hear…”
“That’s what you got to exploit. That’s your ticket in!”
“One word: Cynical.”
“You want to get the job or are you going to insult me?”
“May I do both?”
Peter then went on about a famous story from his past or something more akin to an anthology of them. Everyone always liked those. They were always funny and fantastical: Like, Spiderman-swings-in-and-sa
“When on my first job interview at an insurance company, a would-be manager asked me a series of questions meant to throw you off and think on your feet. Like: ‘Where would you see yourself in 5 years?’ I love time traveling questions. Or ‘Tell us a time where you were in conflict with someone and you just magically fixed it.’ Or ‘what would you do if your found your boss stealing office supplies?’ (I would have said blackmail) and other sanity-vague diatribe.
The point: No one wants to hire a moron. No one will ever say that to your face, of course. But now that I am a manager, trust me, they do. Sometimes walking an interviewee out without bursting in sub-political correct cachinnation is the hardest part of the interview!”
“Cachinnation? Really? You are a bastard Peter…”
“What is your strongest weakness?!” My manager said. “That one does come to mind a lot.”
“Isn’t that a Wynonna Judd song?”
“Silly no fuck!”
“What did you say?”
“…He was my strongest weakness… I surrendered heart and soul…”
“Shut up. You did not said that.”
“I said something about working too hard for my own good, but I was on the process of balancing it out with some sports.”
“Sounds normal, and he believed you?”
“Here is where you must shine: The Look. Everyone knows these answers are anal and vacuous. The internet has made sure to spread that fact far and wide. But the look and tone mixed in with a hint of a honest smile throws them off. That is what sells it. Don’t over do it, you don’t want to come off car-salesman smooth. Everyone hates that! And you will come off as if you are lying. That is something you want to avoid at all costs!
“Isn’t that exactly what I would be doing though?”
“See? Right there. You just failed to get the job.”
Wondered if asking Peter was a very, very, bad idea.
“Oh, wait, I will tell you my favourite question! At another interview few years later, a manager asked in a very serious and imposing tone:
‘Hypothetically, after you got the job, if my manager, came in here. Pointed out the window there and told you the sky was purple and I said to him it was blue… and he asked for your opinion. What would your answer be?’
“Finally, an interestingly attitude question…” I thought.
“I said you could not see the sky because it was in fact overcast.”
“Wha? You did not say that either! You are really BS’ing now.”
“He said it was hypothetical. Didn’t see a hipothericalistic thought sale at Costco. Its free. Anyone can use it.”
“What did he say?”
“He just sat there. Index finger raised upward, mouth opened, as if he was going to say something. After about 10 seconds he asked me if I could come up with anything else. I added we should definitely call his wife, as I would be worried for his boss going home and careening right through a red light.
“I hired you two years later, didn’t I?.” Peter said, smiling.
“Spiderman saves the day, again.” I thought.
In the end, I got the job. Not sure how but definitely not thanks to Peter’s advise.