Job Interview Story

I started working in IT at the age of 14. Since then, I have had six additional office jobs and many interviews in-between. Most of my interviews have been pretty standard, but a few have stuck in my mind as unusual, bizarre, or interesting in some way. After reading the Facebook Recruiting Feedback article, I was inspired to share a few of my interview experiences here. I’ll begin with one of the bizarre interviews.

Interview Stories

I had first heard about the job opening from a friend. He had been doing some contract work for them and mentioned to me that they were looking for someone to help redesign and manage their website as they had a new product to promote. He set up the interview and told me that they had a great product and business and also wanted me to know that Brian, the owner, is a little eccentric. He is an inventor after all.

The Interview

I was greeted at the door by a friendly dog, followed by Brian who exclaimed, “Look at those sideburns – you look like Wolverine!” (at the time, they were very wolverine-esque). I followed Brian into the workshop at the back of the office. This workshop was really a warehouse-sized room filled with old cars, motorcycles and dozens of drum kits. We sat down around a table strewn with electronic parts, soldering irons and detailed drawings of the next product he was designing.

The interview began with Brian expounding on the history of the business, the vision behind the new product and comparisons of himself to Walt Disney. Then he gave me a piece of paper and asked me to show him how I would redesign the site. A bit thrown off, I fumbled for a little while and just said the first things that popped into my head. After about 30 seconds of this, he got up and started pacing back and forth and began telling more stories about his visits with Apple executives and how some designers from Apple were coming in the next day (Saturday) and asked if I wanted to come in to be there while they went over some of the interface design for the new product.

At this point, another employee came in to see if Brian wanted to step into another interview to meet a potential new receptionist. “Is she hot?” was his (inappropriate) response. He got up to go to that interview, leaving me to chit-chat with another employee for the next 20 minutes or so.

When Brian came back, he decided that he was interested in talking about drumming as he had heard that I played as well. While he went on about the many bands that he had played with and rock-stars he had met in the past, he walked over to a weight bench, strapped on his lifting gloves and did some bench presses. Once he had completed a few sets, it was lunch time. Brian mentioned that he had some lunch plans, but was hoping I could come back after lunch and maybe he could hear me play a bit on the drums. I decided I had seen enough for one day and politely declined the offer to come back. He said that he would be in touch about the job.

The Follow-Up

As it turned out, the company must have not really had the budget to hire because they wanted me to contract for several months until the new product was launched and then they promised to hire me full-time. Between the strange interview and no guarantee of a full-time position, I was not exactly convinced to quit the job I had at the time. I told Brian this and his response was to get together for lunch and talk about doing some freelance work. We had lunch at P.F. Chang’s and talked about some possibilities for the site, but when we left, everything was very much up in the air.

Brian called me several times, mostly to talk about another potential hire he was making. Every conversation we had seemed to go nowhere and I eventually just wanted to cut ties, so I sent this email: “Regarding the job…when you feel the time is right to create a position and you have an offer for that position, I will consider it at that point. Right now, I am not quite ready to quit my current job without something for sure to go to.” He simply responded: “I gave you Changs call me.” So, I called Brian. He proceeded to question my integrity (I still don’t know how this came into play) and tear me down personally, so I said right there that I was not interested in ever hearing from him again. That ended a very strange interview saga, and to this day, every time I go by a P.F. Changs, I think to myself “I gave you Changs call me” and I laugh every time.

Disorganized Life

Life has become too out of focus these days. There are so many things that I want to do but am intimidated to either start in on them or continue with them because they grow to be too daunting. Rather than cull them down and focus on one thing at a time, I go back to my safe routines in life. So, it’s time to get organized, write down my goals and pick which ones worthy of a little more or a little less time.

To begin with, here is my current routine.

  • Morning – get up at 6:30, stretch (about 3 mornings/week), read a little in the Bible, eat breakfast and read a lot online (news feeds, email, twitter, facebook).
  • Day – Work and catch up on more online reading at lunch.
  • Evening – Run, dinner, watch shows / more online reading, and sometimes go out for Whole Foods wine/beer or Scotties coffee, bed

OK, so a few things about this. One is that I need to spend less time on my online reading. Probably 70% of it is a waste of time. This is a pain point as I want to keep up on things, but not spend nearly as much time on it. It needs to become a more focused task and less of a distraction. Two – we have way too many shows that we watch (and are currently way behind on). It’s time to get rid of a bunch of them. I think the keepers are Modern Family, Outsourced and Mad Men. Any other suggestions? Three shows is probably enough for now. A third thing is that if all this stuff is cut out, that leaves a little more time in the day. Which leads me to things I would like to do or do more of…

  • Spend more time reading the Bible and praying. I think you can never do enough of this and I’ve really been enjoying II Cor. lately. I think I’ll spend a little more time there.
  • Write more – I need a way to do this that is not so intimidating. Even onepageperday.com seems too intimidating to me as it nags you every day and you have to write a whole page per day!
  • Find ways to go outside of the normal routine. Preferably more interaction with people.
  • Get the motorcycle running and sell it.
  • Build a web application or online business. This is one I have been wanting to do for a long time. I’ve had a ton of ideas, but they have all been either impractical or they don’t seem like that great of an idea (and I have a hard time developing them beyond an initial image/thought).
  • Do more photography, videography and design work.

So, while I feel like I can’t keep up on anything these days, I realize a lot of that has to do with the fact that I’m not spending the time working on focusing on one thing at a time. It’s time to disorganize my routine, minimalize my “want to do” list and better organize my time.

Veridian Dynamics…Predicting the Future

Veridian Dynamics

So, you know that ABC show, Better off Ted? It’s based around a company, Veridian Dynamics, that makes cool products based on research in their labs. I’ve found this strange phenomenon happening where I watch an episode of Better off Ted and then a few days later find that the product they created has actually just been created in RL (real life).

OK, so maybe this doesn’t happen with every episode, but I’ll give you two examples:

  1. Season 1 Episode 2 – Phil and Lem (Veridian’s top two scientists) grow beef in the lab. The day after I watched this (not the day after the episode was released), I saw this article titled Scientists ‘grow’ meat in laboratory. Creepy.
  2. Season 1 Episode 13 – Veridian Dynamics introduces a face-scanning Internet search program. On Dec. 7th, 2009, Google introduced Google Goggles. While this software is initially intended for identifying places, it will also, once privacy concerns are worked out, identify faces in the near future and perform and Internet search on the person.

So, how is Better off Ted predicting the future? Do they have insider information in science and tech industries? I don’t know the answer, but if I see another scenario like the two above, I will have to believe that it is more than just coincidence.

Business Talk

I had this great epiphany recently about people that are successful in business. The biggest thing these people have going for them is not that they are really intelligent or brilliant in their field, it’s that they know how to talk to people. OK, I know you all have realized this a long time ago, but I just realized that if you know how to sell yourself, your products and your skills, you are on your way towards what many people would consider success in the working world. Of course, you do have to have ability yourself or a good team to back up your talk with their work, but you do not have to be the absolute best in your field to be successful. So, my question to you is what are your tips and tricks for navigating conversations and having the confidence to convince other people to believe in you and the things you believe in?

Being Somebody Else

twitter

I’ve noticed that there have been a few of these fake twitter accounts cropping up recently. They seem to be found out quickly, but I’m always suckered into following the people before they get exposed as fakes. The latest couple have been the Dalai Lama (@OHHDL) and Christopher Walken (@cwalken). I was really bummed that @cwalken was actually a fake. After hearing all of Jason Calicanis’ impressions of him on TWiT, I was excited to see how fun the fake Walken’s twitter posts actually were.

So, this got me thinking about the motives behind taking the time to set up a fake twitter account and post content that actually sounds like something the person/celebrity would say. The person who sets up the account has to know that they are going to be figured out some day. So, do they just want their 5 minutes of fame? Are they trying to make a future name for themselves by gaining followers under a false pretense? Is there some secret obsession with the celebrity they choose to impersonate?

Regardless of any motives for setting up a fake account, I really think there is much more long-term value in building a brand around your true identity than faking it like these posers. There is something so powerful about sincerity – if you are truly interested in marketing yourself and your skills online, be sincere about it. Be open and honest enough with people that they see you are real, but not so much that you seem creepy. It’s interesting to note that even Fake Steve Jobs was forced to become “Real Dan”. People like to see what is real when it comes to online personalities.

Hyper-threading Thoughts

I have this problem where I can’t multitask my thoughts. So, if I am driving, I can’t carry on a conversation without losing concentration on my driving (which is bad). I can’t talk to someone very easily while trying to work at the computer. Basically, I can’t carry on a conversation while being actively engaged in some other task.

Now, maybe this sounds pretty normal to you. I know it’s not unusual for guys to not be able to multitask. But, consider this. I was watching a little bit of the live video stream from Leo Laporte earlier today. He has a tech call-in show where he answers questions people have about their computers/gadgets/etc… So, Leo is carrying on a conversation with someone on the phone/Skype AND watching a chatroom full of people giving him ideas of how to answer the questions AND doing research online about all these things. All of this happens while he drives the conversation with the person on the other end of the line and never loses his train of thought. Oh yeah, and he’s hosting a 3 camera live show while he sits/bounces on his exercise ball. During one show, the ball he was sitting on popped, and he would have just kept on going except that someone asked what the noise was.

So, I know it’s just a movie, but Rocket Science portrays a high school debate team. The kids on this team talk so fast that I can’t even hear what they are saying. My mind can’t even keep up with this fast of a train of thought. Now, I know with debates, every possible talking point is prepared before-hand, and I know that you could easily speed up talking on film without changing the pitch, but dang. There are just some people that have that really strong brain to mouth connection and can keep one line of thought with plenty of other distractions going on around them.

I would like to train my mind to have more than one active process at a time. A kind of hyper-threading if you will. Anyone have ideas for how to do this? Perhaps a more efficient conversation pipeline? Let me know your best tricks of the trade.

It wasn’t the eggnogg that almost killed me.

So, the last couple of weekends…one was a wedding in Indiana which also consisted of interesting conversations late at night and some relaxing time in the hot tub. The other was filled with things such as watching Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, karaoke with friends, etc…. OK, so nothing too out of the ordinary, but these past two weekends provoked a thought: “Live free. Live with grace. Listen. Let go.”

Last Sunday at the C.R.A.C.K. House, Mitchell told us that life is so much easier to live when you stop trying to fix things yourself and let God work on them. I still have an image in my head of Mitchell leaning over with his ear out saying that this is like God’s ear on the earth. He can hear what you are thinking…like you listening to your parents conversations downstairs through the vent in your room. So, let God take your problems on Himself…His yoke is easy and His burden is light. It’s not that He takes all your problems away, it’s that He helps you with them and He does a much better job than you. In fact, His work is perfect every time.

So what I am saying is that God cares about how you feel and it’s OK to let Him take care of things and rather than spending your time worrying about them, spend some time talking with God about them…spend some time with other people…have some conversations…experience some new things.

This is why I like movies like Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Juno, Garden State, Sideways…and the list goes on. I like these movies for the fact that they are all about the people…the character development. Sometimes they are screwed up people (albeit in various stages of life), but aren’t we all in some ways? So, if you haven’t already, let God handle the things you are trying to control yourself. If you are already doing this, encourage someone else to do the same. I have the feeling it will be a worthwhile experiment.

Fear and Media

Let me be the first to tell you that I’m not much of a news junkie in the traditional sense. I have been at times obsessive about keeping up with tech news online and on podcasts, but I don’t typically read newspapers, watch news on TV or check out msn.com for the latest news stories every day. It’s my opinion that we should make a drastic change in the way that the news is reported in this country. Now, I get my general news updates by word of mouth from people who have done the watching or reading already for me. A common emotional response to the news that I hear from these people is fear. They are afraid of what will happen with the economy, afraid of gas prices, afraid of criminals on the loose, etc… Now, what I have also found when I have listened to the news and heard something that I knew a little bit about (technology related pieces), I see that there are all kinds of inaccuracies and misinformation presented. It makes me wonder about the subjects that I’ve heard reported on that I am not as familiar with. Are they also full of false or exaggerated information just to increase the shock factor which seems to boost ratings and viewership?

I think we all know that the media will present news to us in the most shocking and negative way possible because it garners a response. The question is, what is our reaction to all of this? Do we live in fear of the future? Are we simply fascinated by the shocking stories? Do we hold out hope for citizen journalism to gain more credibility through sites like Current TV and Beat Blogging? Or, do you have another solution? You tell me…

Esteban’s Thanksgiving Fable

There was once a cat that lived with a family of dogs. She had a great life and got everything she desired. Still, she never really felt at home. So, one day Whiskers decided that she was going to leave the house to find out if there were any other cats out there in the world. As she bid adieu to her family of dogs that she had known her whole life, whiskers let out a little meow of delight. It was finally time to hit the hit the pavement and find out what the rest of the world was like.

Whiskers found that there many things she had never heard of before. Catnip, in particular. The longer she spent living in the wild, the more catnip she had to have to feel happy. Sure, whiskers made many friends. She met big cats, small cats, cats with no hair, and even a three-legged cat named Tripod. But, as Whiskers trekked farther and farther from home, she began to look more and more haggard. Her friends all got their fill of food from their owners, but Whiskers found herself stealing food and trading it for catnip because she just couldn’t bring herself to go without. Alleys where steam rose from the sewers were her favorite place to sleep. As Whiskers awoke one morning from her catnip induced sleep, she heard a faint gobbling noise in the distance. Some creature she had never encountered before was waddling through the steam – it seemed to hop over the piles of trash almost as if it could have flown in another life. As it grew closer, Whiskers heard a voice: “Hey there cat, watcha doing?” Whiskers answered back, “Oh, just trying to get some sleep before my next meal.” “Why are you sleeping out here? Where is your family?” asked the Turkey. “What?” said Whiskers. “What are you anyway?” “My name is Thomas. Thomas the Turkey”, replied the strange creature. “Well”, Whiskers said “my family is a bunch of dogs and I’ve left them to discover the world. I was sick of being the only cat in that house.” “Look at you now though”, said Thomas. “You have nothing to eat except this one bite of catnip.” As Thomas reached out his wing to point, Whiskers hissed back, “Merooowww. Don’t you touch my catnip.” With pity in his eyes, Thomas said softly, “Look, if it were me, I would go back to my family even if they were all different from me. I’m sure it must have been much better than you have it out here on the street.” “Whatever…” Whiskers mumbled as she turned to walk away. But, she couldn’t get that thought out of her head. Life was so much better when there were dogs around that loved her. So, Whiskers decided to head back home and the dogs all accepted her with open arms…err paws. As she was coming into the house, one of the dogs said, “You’re just in time for Thanksgiving…and we’re having Turkey!”.

Moral of the story: Be thankful for the life you have.

Running Away

There are a different approaches to hardship in life. In fact, there are different types of hardship that one may experience in life. Ignoring for a moment that the trials you, I and probably most other Americans experience are nothing compared to what many others in our crazy world suffer, there are still some kinda crappy experiences that we face in our lifetime. There are different ways to respond when life gets wacky. In my experience, it’s not out of the ordinary to feel more down than up in life. So, the choice is how to respond to such feelings. Is it best just to learn to become numb to those feelings and realize that life is more than living on your emotions? Is it better yet to realize that there are more things to be learned during emotional or circumstantial turmoil – to realize that there is a God, a higher power that is much bigger than my immediate problems? What about starting over – changing the scenery, doing something different in life, something with purpose (which of course poses the question of what is actually meaningful)? In fact, are the meaningful things of life those things that you don’t actually feel like doing…at least at first? Or, is it in fact worthwhile to let life take you to the bottom – to follow a hedonistic way of life to your own demise – only to be brought out of it and be given the opportunity to realize how much God has saved you from?

I feel like I *should* ignore the crappy feelings of life, like I *want* to go start over with some new things in different areas of life, and like I’m *jealous* of people who are able to appreciate so greatly where God has brought them from in life.

I know that there is a good (or possibly even right) answer posed in one (or a combination) of the questions posed above (you don’t need to tell me which one you think is correct). I know that there are a lot of easy answers to hard questions in the world, but I also know that there is a big difference between knowing, believing and living.

My questions for the week are these: 1. What do you find joy in? 2. Do you live more by your emotions, your mind, or your spirituality? 3. What kind of furrie are you?