An Insider View Into Job Interviews

5 minute read

This month, in particular, is a special month I’ve always been interested in. This month, thousands (or millions?) of students graduate and look for jobs. And as an employer who’s always on the lookout for people to hire, it can be a bit frustrating most of the time, to know that a lot of the graduates that turn up, lack a lot of the skills (fundamentals, basics, whatever) that I need in a potential hire. We’re not asking much really. All we need are students who took their studies seriously and took the time to, at least, read ahead in preparation for the real world. Or, just a bit of common-sensical take on their chosen profession. Hiring has always been hell for us and most of the time, a big waste of our time. But we have no choice but to still believe. Here, I attempt to list down some of my and my colleagues’ observations, questions, and frustrations, as we wade through tons of resumés, and sit through hours of eyebrow-raising interviews. While it may seem that this is only for fresh graduates, believe me, there ARE job-seekers out there with supposed years of experience who are just as bad. This is for them, or you, too. If you’re a job applicant, this is very useful insider tip.

  1. Applicants failed to take their studies seriously.

    You thought simply graduating was the key. Cheating is not good. And it’s worse if you didn’t understand a thing. And surprise! That class you took about Software Engineering, Data Structures, and Algorithms ARE useful. And oh, Philosophy and Logic rocks too.

  2. Applicants didn’t really know what they were getting into.

    Please have the initiative to at least research about the company you’re applying with, and whether what they do is really what you want to be doing. We’re not forcing you to apply, you know. You came here on your volition right? But what piqued your interest, really? One of the things we keep looking for are people who really are interested in the job, not just ANY job. And if one really wants the job, then s/he must work hard for it. In my company, we keep saying at the onset, that, it is a bi-directional interview. We want and encourage people to ask questions, the right ones, that is.

  3. Some applicants can be delusional about salaries.

    Everyone has to start from scratch somewhere. Did you really believe that that dream job will simply be outside the university gates when you come out? One has to work hard for it. But yes, there are graduates from a minority of schools who can actually pull off a good leverage. And most of them are really good, I must admit. But, just not everyone.

  4. Some applicants think they can get away with populating their resumés with buzzwords they barely know about.

    It does get our attention, but we will find out if you’re lying! So spare yourself from embarassment. While we don’t really humiliate applicants ourselves, it would be better if you were honest with yourself in the first place. Yes, we do notice those small beads of sweat and that sudden stammer in your voice. Just the same, exams should bring the humility out in everyone. Come on, I’ve known MD’s and Journalism majors whom I can discuss Linux and other geekiness with, which are totally out of context of their respective professions. These people can beat these so-called IT, CS, etc, graduates to a pulp. Heck, I even know a restaurateur who now does software development for a living. That, kids, is called genuine interest. So, unless you can stand by your bluff, just lose it.And despite most of them seminars being introductory, they can be useful, especially, if people started doing follow-through studies. If the topics didn’t interest you or if you didn’t really understand them, it ain’t going to do anyone any good.

  5. And most especially, some schools need to re-think their ancient curricula.

    Schools are supposed to be teaching stuff that will actually help the students get better jobs, and not just simply milk money out of them. Some curricula I saw were just mediocre. Or archeological. I guess it’s one of those dangers of having teachers who never really got out of their college comfort zones into the industry. Hey guys, help us out here!What’s funny too, is, I’ve talked to cum-laudes who barely know things outside college! No, textbooks are not everything (especially if they’re dated already!). Got ‘net? Use it and read up. It’s not only for Ragnarok you know. It’s just a sorry state when some more street-smart people are able to outdo cum-laudes. It really makes me wonder what kind of education and quality control his/her school had in place. And the bad thing is, it’s the students who suffers. If these cum-laudes found it hard to get a job, what about the others?And maybe, schools should also re-evaluate the relevance of each subject. I, for one, have yet to find good use for Integral Calculus, Differential Equations, and Strength of Materials, in my current job, or in those of my other batch mates’. Nevertheless, despite failing them at some point, I did enjoy these subjects, because, yes, I was actually interested in them. But sometimes, I can’t help but wonder about the man-months I spent on them, man-months which could have been better spent learning more relevant stuff. But then, a lot of my friends kept saying I might have been in the wrong course all along. Okay, okay, I was in Computer Engineering when I was supposed to be in CS. After all, I’ve always been a software guy.Man, there’s something wrong wth this picture!

Anyway, I can go on and on, and I’m sure I missed a lot of others, but let’s start with these. If anyone has something else to share, please do drop a comment. I’m sorry if i had to be blunt about stuff, but being saccharine doesn’t work for me anymore. A lot of times, people really just need a good jolt. I just hope that for you, or anyone who’s looking for a job, that what I wrote here does serve its real purpose.

During interviews, anyway, I have learned to make good use of my poker face to hide the disappointment, unless, a spunk-wielding-applicant who thinks he can take me down decides to test my patience. Great skillsets are good but the last thing I’d want to have on board is a prima donna.

So, are you still wondering why the unemployment rate is this bad? Sigh.

Oh, well, congratulations to you, graduates! I hope you find what you’re looking for! And if you didn’t, well, it’s the price we pay for the life we choose.