Finding a job in this tough economy can be difficult and frustrating and employers are doing tricky things to weed out the competition. I learned this lesson during a recent interview I had with a Mister Armstrong at the rocking chair factory. I was as nervous as could be, but tried to maintain the illusion of confidence.
“Have a seat,” Mister Armstrong said.
“Where would you like me to sit?” I asked.
“Anywhere would be fine,” he replied.
I opted for the chair directly across from Mister Armstrong’s desk. I looked him confidently in the eye as I sat down, but suddenly the chair began tipping backwards.
“Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!” I shouted in a panic. Then, to my relief, the chair began to stabilize, but suddenly it began tipping me forward. Terrified that it would spill me out, I shifted my weight back quickly. The chair tilted back violently.
“Ahhhhh!!!!!” I screamed and lunged forward. The chair jerked forward with an intense force.
“Whoa!” I shouted, pulling back. The chair thrust back even harder, then again tilted violently forward.
“Look, if you just….. if you…” Mister Armstrong tried talking to me, but I had no idea what he was saying because all I could do was hold on for dear life as the chair continued to jerk me backwards and forward. Finally, after about an hour and a half of this, I went flying forward and slammed into Mister Armstrong’s desk.
“Ah!” I yelled in pain.
“Are you…. Are you alright?” Mister Armstrong asked.
“I don’t know,” I replied.
“I don’t understand what you were doing,” he replied.
“I just sat down and….” That’s when I glanced at the bottom of the chair and noticed that instead of four legs, the chair was being supported by two bowed rungs.
“What the hell is that?!” I asked.
“What?” Mister Armstrong asked.
“That!” I pointed to the bottom of the chair furiously.
“Those are the rungs of the chair,” he replied concerned. “That’s what makes it rock back and fourth.”
“Oh, you are sick,” I said disgusted. “You are really, really sick.”
And with that I stormed out of the interview.
While one could argue that Mister Armstrong’s interview tactics were unethical, I contend that I should have been prepared. Employers more and more are using trickery to weed out the competition, but there are some tricks that you can employ to be certain that you get the job.
One thing employers love to do is to fool you into revealing your vulnerabilities during the interview. The way to protect yourself from this deception is through humor. For example, when the interviewer asks you what you would say your biggest weakness is, respond ‘kryptonite.’ Then when he or she starts laughing, fire back ‘hey, I didn’t laugh at your weaknesses!’
Employers also love to put you on the spot by asking you to name something you did at your last job that changed the way your company works. This is often a trap to get you to reveal how you were the person behind the largest tap shoe recall in history, or how you got your company delisted from the New York Stock Exchange. The best way to get around this is by naming something someone else did, and stick to your guns, even if they point out that you were only five years old when you claimed to have saved Chrysler from the brink of bankruptcy.
Some interviewers will ask how you would change their company, but beware, many employers can’t take the criticism. For example, during a recent interview at Ford Motor Company, I said their plan to fuel vehicles with corn instead of oil is ridiculous, since the costs outweigh the benefits. First of all, the corn clogs up your gas lines. Second, when you go to get your car fixed, the repair guys will only give you some of that corn back. And finally, when you decide on your own to deduct the price of the corn from your repair bill, the car place sends a collection agency after you. Ford didn’t want to listen.
In conclusion, keep your guard up during the entire interview. Sure, there are some who would argue that my examples of deception on the job hunt aren’t trickery at all, but instead standard interview procedure. Others will tell you that you should be yourself when going into an interview and that my tips will lead you to certain disaster, but I would say to those people ‘shut up.’ Follow my advice and you’ll end up landing the job of your dreams.