Ali’s blog

Mostly quant stuff with occasional digressions

Interview technique I

Posted by alifinmath on January 28, 2008

This is one of my less serious posts. To even discuss interview technique, I make the assumption that your resume was chockful of the usual buzzwords and acronyms and hence managed to get past the software sentinels that are used to reduce the mountain of resumes to a more tractable hill. Truth to tell, I don’t believe in the process of applying for a job, getting interviewed, and then being made a job offer: this might work if the number of applicants is relatively small and one’s credentials are outstanding. Since this is unlikely, people prefer to use their contacts or suck up to potential employers at conferences and conventions. The way the world turns. But I’m digressing (incipient senility). I don’t care how, but you’ve managed to snag an interview. Now forget the usual rubbish of fair and impartial assessments: the interviewer will decide within a few seconds — usually on a subconscious basis — whether he likes you or not. If he does, you have a chance. Let’s examine an interview described by my favorite American novelist, James Ellroy in American Tabloid to see how an interviewer assesses strengths and weaknesses: one of the protagonists, Pete Bondurant, is trying to recruit a Klansman for an anti-Castro campaign:


Lockhart dropped down the hatch. He wore a soot-flecked sheet, cinched by a gunbelt and two revolvers.

He had bright red hair and freckles. His drawl was deep Mississippi.

“The money I like and the move to Florida don’t bother me. But that no-lynching rule has gotta go.”

Pete backhanded him. Dougie Frank (Lockhart) stayed upright — give him an A-plus for balance.

“Man, I have killed oversized white trash for less than what you just did.”

Punk bravura: Give him a C-minus.

Pete slapped him again. Lockhart pulled his right piece — but didn’t aim it.

Nerves: A-plus. Sense of caution: B-minus.

Lockhart wiped blood off his chin. “I like Cubans. I might stretch my racial-exclusion policy and let your guys into my klavern.”

Sense of humor: A-plus.

Lockhart spit a tooth out. “Give me something. Let me know that I’m more than just some punching bag.”

Pete winked. “Mr. Boyd and I might put you on a bonus plan. And the Agency (CIA) just might give you your own Ku Klux Klan.”

Lockhart did a Stepin Fetchit shuffle. “Thank you, massah! If you was pro-Klan like a real white man, I’d kiss the hem of your sheet!”

Pete kicked him in the b*lls.

He went down — but didn’t yell or whimper. He cocked his gun — but didn’t fire.

The man got passing marks overall.



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