Im March, 2004, I put on a suit. My appearance was the best I could offer and I shined my shoes. I left the house an hour earlier than I needed to, stopping for gas despite having a half a tank. The building was tall, dark, impressive, and the parking garage was massive. I walked through the glass breezeway, told the armed guard twice my size who I was and who I wanted to see. Minutes later he led me to the executive elevator and I went to the 17th floor. Greeted by a pleasant, but serious looking receptionist, I was walked toward a huge office, encased in glass, overlooking the city of Atlanta, Georgia. Six men sat in front of me, none of them smiled. One man knew me, he knew my family, even he was somber. It was a job interview for a large company, the kind where you start a career. Everything started normally, then the fourth question they asked me, threw me for a loop, "Where do you see yourself at 40 years old?" I was 33 at the time, my 7 and a half year old daughter was 5 months old, I had stayed up half the night with her because she ate every 3 hours, I was exhausted, and 40 still seemed like 80 to me. I answered stupidly, "wow, that seems so far off." The man who asked me the question, interrupted me, and replied, sternly, "I'm 40, everyone else here is over 40." I realized he didn't care what my answer was, he wanted me to handle pressure. So he applied more.
I got the job. I'm still in the position. I'm a man, I'm 40 (that never gets old) ,Most of the questions they asked were conventional but a couple were meant to get me out of my comfort zone. In the end, I understood that and I was thankful for their opportunity.
This article, from Yahoo News Finance, highlights the 25 weirdest job interview question: http://finance.yahoo.com/career-work/article/111757/the-25-weirdest-interview-questions-2010
Some of these seem insane. Others, you can see where the employer was going, trying to get inside the head of the person who wanted a six figure salary and benefits. The NFL is known for there seemingly bizarre interview process. Last year, Miami Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland asked potential first round draft choice, Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant, if his mother was a prostitute. There was some context, not a lot, that pushed Ireland in this direction. Bryant made it through his interview with the Dolphins without killing anyone, then got drafted by the Dallas Cowboys.
In the last two years I have received promotions to a managerial level. I hire people. I usually ask the same three things. They revolve around work ethic, history with other people, and availability for emergencies. Then we shake hands, eat something, and start working. I have never asked anyone if their mother was a hooker or what kind of tree they would be.
I am perplexed as to why anyone needs to know something that isn't directly related to the job needed. I think the majority of people conducting the interviews in the Yahoo story and NFL teams are more concerned with their own power, not the applicant's qualifications. I think Lynyrd Skynyrd were ahead of their time when they recorded this song 37 years ago.
For the record, my parents are wonderful, gamefully and respectfully employed people. If I inherited a pizzeria from my uncle, I would hire someone with restaurant savvy to run or I would sell. I would be a banana tree so I could live in warm climate and provide sustenance. Most of all, like my good ole boys in Skynyrd, if you ever want to talk fishin', it will always be ok.
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