Ask Sam: What should I say in a job interview?
March 24, 2014
The prestige of having been employed in the same entry level job for seven years (without promotion) has lead many of our readers to seek my advice in career matters. Traditionally I answer via private correspondence, mostly with biting personal commentary and ugly sexual innuendo, but a recent wave of joblessness amongst my cohort has convinced to disseminate my wisdom in a more public fashion.
My time in the business world has taught me exactly one thing: context is more important than content. Being able to frame information in a self-constructive fashion is the entirety of the battle; master the spin, and you win.
Let us examine a few common errors of phrasing and context and explore stronger alternatives.
(Originally posted at SAM THE TURTLE)
The Statement: I’m not afraid to cut a mothafucka if he gets too close!
While this assertion could potentially establish your street cred, your interviewer is unlikely to draw any positive inference from it. Additionally, if the interviewer does haphazardly wander too close, you will need to cut him or risk losing any previously accrued street credentials.
How you should couch it: I have a strong commitment to personal space and am a highly motivated self starter, with a strong appreciation for the importance of reputation.
Educational Wherewithal: I am wholly illiterate. This is a conscious choice that I have made at great personal cost.
The reading world is unkind to the brave. Incomprehensible forms are presented, signatures demanded, and pictographic resumes rejected out of hand. Fortunately, the higher up you go in the corporate world, the more literacy becomes a liability. Complete sentences, proper syntax, and using one metaphor at a time are the province of lesser me forced into coherence by their low station in life.
A proper obfuscation: I’m a big idea guy…a do’er who doesn’t waste his time on navel gazing. I delegate effectively to remain focused on high concept execution.
The admission: I got fired from my last job for sexually assailing, like…three coworkers. But at least two of them clearly wanted it.
A hard pill to swallow, indeed. This is a classic case of providing too much information and applying value judgments where none are needed. Let the courts decide who was in the wrong, your job is to sell your product. You!
A more refined sentiment: In my last position I took on additional unpaid management duties that created some friction amongst my co-workers. In hindsight more effective communication skills would have smoothed the transition, but in end we all benefited.
Matters of Health: I got hit with the Dim Mak touch a couple years back…so I’ll likely be taking a lot of sick leave.
Health issues can raise all sorts of red flags in prospective employers. Try and downplay the debilitative impact of your condition, while emphasizing the benefits.
How to Frame it: Instead of mentioning your lack of positive Ki, emphasis your abundance of negative Ki. Explain how you may die and become a Revenant…perhaps one driven to work extremely hard for a limited wage.
The freestyle portion of the interview:
My rage is ringing like a phone, bitch you better answer
My life is full of pain, like your wife is full of cancer
A little hostile, but you’re on the right track. Rapping, along with collating and synergizing, form the core triumvirate of effective office management.
An Alternate flow:
I am assertive and capable, in a straight forth manner
I always meet my deadlines, as I’m a effective planner
I’m sorry to hear about your wife
The Situation: The King of all Centaurs is my sworn enemy. There will be attacks; some to kill, some to capture. Mostly during office hours. The dead will be the fortunate ones.
While it is not uncommon to have unresolved obligations from past employment, it is important to inform potential employers of any pre-existing scheduling conflicts. You are not well served, however, disclosing past acrimony that might cast you in a negative light.
A more optimistic interpretation:
Past cultural exchanges have allowed me to form strong, if complex, relationships with non traditional markets. This will almost certainly facilitate a variety of networking opportunities for myself and my coworkers…possibly leading to extended placement in outside positions.
 Our readers are as lacking in judgment as they are to soon be of gainful employment.
 And who knows, he may be quick with a blade himself. What a terrible outcome it would be to lose a potential employment opportunity and the better part of your spleen.