The Lies My Friends Tell To Be Gainfully Employed

I hate it when hiring managers try to gauge prospective employee interest in a job.

Even worse is when they ask intangible questions like: Do you have good communication skills, can you work in a team, are you organized? What person will say they have poor communication skills and not a team player? My computer science professor this semester was previously a New York City municipal employee. He put it the best when he said he prefers working alone. And he’s probably right, he has a PhD in computer science, extensive work experience in the private sector to know most people on his team who are unionized city employees will probably just get in his way.

I remember for the interview at my last job the hiring managers gave me this idiotic scenario. You are in a local census office that serves a mostly Asian community, but upon visiting the office you find that some of the managers in the office are not Asian. Is there a problem? And if so how would you fix it? My answer was as follows: “You want me to say there is a problem and that some of the managers should be Asian to better serve this community. However I would say if the managers are competent then there is no need. There may be a need for the ones who face the community such as the recruiting manager to be Asian, however the payroll manager, office manager do not interact with the public so they don’t need to be Asian if they are doing the job properly.” The problem with the answer the federal government is looking for is that everyone is pro-affirmative action, i.e. promoting candidates to management positions not based solely on their job performance but moreover because of their minority status.

Are you a self starter is another and it’s the worst. Everyone will say they are a self starter, but the truth is if you were a self starter you wouldn’t be in this sorry ass interview begging for a job, because you would of started a company like this yourself.

And yet another is the infamous thank you letter expressing the candidate’s interest that shows way too much enthusiasm yet says nothing about their qualifications, like can they do the job. The following is an email exchange between a hiring manager and my friend. Notice he/she thanks the hiring manager for interviewing them. The manager should be thanked because the candidate just wasted your time for a job he won’t enjoy. But the rest of it is pure lies. For example he says he is very interested in the position. I can tell you my friend may sound like he wants the job, but it is similar to what he does now, and he hates it. He is just trying to find a job that pays more money and has less work.

But he fails to understand simple principles of economics. A salary of a job is based on supply and demand. The supply are the candidates who are able (have the educational background or work experience or inate intelligence to be able to do the job) and willing to do the job. The demand are the employers who need someone to able the do the job. When demand for a job is high and the supply is low the salary goes up, and this usually means the job is more difficult.

Do you really want someone who fails to understand a principle of economics to work for your company? My coworker says hiring managers try to find people with stellar resumes, great schools, good work experience but what it fails to weed out those who failed at their last job. Perhaps the question should be: Did you fail at your last job? But then again everyone will answer no.

Sent: Thursday, May 19, 2011 1:54 PM


Subject: Re: SAP Confirmation – Phone Interview: – Associate Consultant Candidate Convergent Charging
I thank you again for the opportunity to interview for the Associate Consultant role. I felt that the first round went pretty well and I am very interested in the position. I look forward to hearing back about any next steps.
I am available anytime for an interview.
Thank you,


1 Comment

Filed under Gainfully Unemployed

One response to “The Lies My Friends Tell To Be Gainfully Employed

  1. Grover Mannings


    As you state, the interview questions are bullshit, but the answers you must give cannot be.

    First, realize there is a trade-off between working for the private sector versus the public sector. In the public sector you trade a high salary and limitless promotions for job security and good health benefits (which are unmatched in the private sector). In the private sector, however, you sacrifice job security for better pay and more career advancement potential. You also CAN’T be a clock watcher: your day at a private company doesn’t end until the job is done, whereas hours in a government job are predetermined and scheduled. (You have pointed this out before).

    Most importantly, how do you answer those lame questions?

    I’ll tell you what works for a private company because I’ve been employed by a few over the years.

    The top answers they want to hear are:

    Q. Are you a self starter?

    A. “At my last job I increased my company’s (or my department’s) profits by 20%, implementing a new software system that brought greater efficiency to product distribution.”

    Q. Are you capable of making tough decisions?

    A. “I was able to cut costs by 15% at my last job by firing the dead wood and MBAs and hiring hungry college graduates who would work for less.”

    Q. Can you multi-task?

    A. “Productivity increased in my division as a result of my sweeping master plan that had points 1, 2 and 3 (for example) and thus boosted the competitiveness of our business.”

    Q. Describe your biggest achievement at your last job?

    A. “I helped our company go public via an IPO on the NYSE, assisting the CEO with accounting, financial figures, or human resources. The IPO was successful and our net worth doubled.”

    Q. Can you work well with others?

    A. “I was instrumental in engineering a merger between us an a company providing complimentary products/services. We did this for balance sheet reasons, and in the end profits soared and stock prices increased”.

    Simply summarized: HOW DO YOU MAKE US MONEY?

    If you can provide a good answer to that question, guess what: you’re hired.

    Good Luck.


    Grover Mannings

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