Turning The Tables

We’re all familiar with those tiresome magazine or newspaper articles which tell you “How To Ace That Sweet Job Interview” or suchlike nonsense. I’ve sat on both sides of the desk many times, and I am still amazed not just at the stupidity of interviewees, but also at the still-greater idiocy of the interviewers — and I mean the “screening” interviewers such as Human Resources (or as we used to call it, Personnel, a more honest term in that it involved persons as opposed to resources). Mostly, interviews with the people who are going to be your future boss are hundreds of times more productive because the manager has a better idea of what he needs from a subordinate, than does some drone with an English degree who can barely understand the corporate mission statement, let alone the specific needs of an engineering or marketing department.

So, with all the usual caveats — following my advice is something you need to do with the greatest suspicion and/or trepidation — allow me to present Kim’s Ultimate Answers To Interviewers’ Dumb Questions.

“What skills will you bring to the company?”
– You mean, other than what’s on my resumé?

“Can you explain some of the gaps in your resumé?”
– I don’t consider them to be gaps. During one of those “gaps”, as you call them, I learned to speak a foreign language. During another “gap”, I learned basic HTML. I used those opportunities to improve my marketplace value.

“Are you a punctual person?”
– For me, five minutes early is on time. But the converse of that is that unless it’s a client, I don’t tolerate unpunctuality in other people.

“Tell me how you handled a difficult situation.”
– You need to define what you consider “difficult” first. What some people might consider difficult, I might consider unremarkable or inconsequential. (Then examples: I once turned a competitor’s best customer into one of our best customers. I turned our cost-center department into a profit center.) Avoid any mention of how you dealt with office politics — these discussions are poison because HR, having no actual marketable skills themselves, will be well versed in those Dark Arts.

“What would you consider your biggest strength as an employee?”
– Managing expectations. Generally, I try to under-promise and over-deliver, and always under budget or ahead of the deadline.

“What would you consider your biggest weakness?”
– You mean work-related weaknesses? Can’t think of any, off-hand, other than perhaps a dislike of unproductive meetings. I get very impatient when my work time is wasted.

(Follow-up snarky question:) “So how would you classify this meeting?”
– This is a productive meeting. From my responses, you’re trying to decide whether you want to employ me; and from the corporate culture you’re showing me, I’m trying to decide whether I’d want to work here.

“Are you prepared to work weekends and holidays?”
– Of course I am. By the way, what’s the usual compensation for doing that: longer vacations, flexible hours, or overtime pay? I don’t mind any of those as exchanges for giving up my personal time. I’m not a clock-watcher by any means, but I do value my spare time. (Unless you’re applying for a management position, this is a perfectly acceptable response, by the way.)

“Do you get along with people?”
– Most people.

(Follow-up question:) “What kind of people don’t you get along with?”
– People who confuse input with output. Also, people who don’t understand the Iron Triangle (cost, time and scope). [If you have to explain the difference between input and output to the interviewer, you may wish to reconsider your job application.]

“What do you know about our company?”
– Other than what’s on your corporate website? Not much. I do know quite a bit about your competitors, though, because I did some homework on them so I could start work as productively as possible.

(Follow-up question #1:) “What do you know about our competitors?”
– I really wouldn’t feel comfortable divulging that except to my future boss, as his subordinate.
(Follow-up question #2:) “Have you been in contact with any of our competitors?”
– Not yet. I wanted to see how things went with your company first.

“Where do you see yourself in five years?” (Mostly, this question has disappeared from most interviews, because today’s would-be employees have little idea where they’ll be in five days, let alone years. Still:)
– It really depends on how my job changes, or what happens to the company over that period of time. With the rate of change today, what with companies starting up and failing, or being taken over by competitors, I think that five years is too long a period in which to make strategic career decisions at this point.

“Will you take a drug test?”
– The minute you can prove to me that the CEO and all the other senior executives have taken the same drug test. Then, sure.
[HR will say that they can’t show you that for privacy issues, but repeat that you don’t want to see the results, just proof that the test was taken. When they say, “It’s corporate policy; everyone has to take the test,” insist on proof. If they say, “you have to take my word that everyone has taken the test”, then your response should be that they should have no problem about taking your word that you don’t do drugs. By the way, if senior executives don’t have to take the test, then it’s not corporate policy. If the drug test policy only applies to lower echelons, ask how they’ve avoided being sued so far.]

“Do you have any bad work habits?” (I swear, I was once asked this question, a variation of “What are your weaknesses?” which has now been excoriated so often that it’s no longer asked.)
– I don’t know what constitutes a “bad habit” in your opinion. Could you give me a few examples? (Then answer those, and only those, with responses like: “I’d never do that” or “I’ve never done that” or “People do that?”)

“Do you have any questions for me?”
– Only about the salary (hourly rate), which seems a little modest for the skills and experience you’re asking of an employee at this level. But I’d prefer to discuss that topic with my future boss here, rather than at so early a stage in the process. (Unsaid: I don’t want to hear all that bullshit about salary grades from you, but from the guy who has actual budget authority.)

I should probably point out that if you actually use the above examples in an interview, your chances of getting the job will drop faster than a Kardashian’s panties. But at least you’ll have had some fun along the way. I should also point out that I have used some of these, or at least variations thereof, on my own behalf. Quite often, amazingly, I made it past HR to the boss’s interview because it appeared that the HR drone saw quite clearly that they were out of their depth, and like all good bureaucrats, kicked the problem over to someone else.

Use with caution.

“Dear Dr. Kim”

“Dear Dr. Kim,

I’ve been happily married for nearly forty years, and I love my wife dearly. However, I find that I seldom feel much sexual desire for her these days. It’s not that she’s ‘let herself go’ or anything like that; in fact, she’s quite a looker. And it’s not erectile dysfunction, either. On those rare occasions when we do have sex, I have no problem ‘rising to the occasion,’ as it were. I’m not looking for sex outside our marriage, either – but the fact is that I just couldn’t be bothered to have sex with anyone. What’s the matter with me?”

– Uninterested, London.

Dear Uninterested,

Nothing. Unless you have a health issue – and you may have, so get a doctor (a real doctor, not a shrink) to check you out – it’s quite normal for men’s sex drives to diminish as they get older, but sometimes a health issue like high blood pressure is at fault.

I suspect you’ve fallen prey to feelings of sexual inadequacy after reading one of those tiresome surveys which remind us that the “average” married couple has sex 7.5 times a week or some such bullshit. You need to know two things: people lie like dogs on those surveys, because no man wants to admit to a stranger that he’s not bursting with sexual energy – even if that researcher is seventy years old and looks like Hillary Clinton. So he lies and brags, and now we have to live with those fantasies. The other thing you need to know about those surveys is that the only people who are comfortable talking to researchers about their sex lives are either old braggarts or young people – and young people, as we all know, have the sex drive of rabbits.

Let’s face facts, here: the Duke of Wellington once remarked about sex that “the pleasure is momentary, the position ridiculous, and the expense damnable.” Note that he said this at age 65 and not at 25, when his comment would likely have been quite different.

Finally, don’t listen to the supposed “experts” or any kind of therapists, who have a vested interest in keeping you feeling insecure. Ask your wife if your decreased sex drive bothers her. My bet is that it won’t, especially if you’ve been a faithful and loving husband in all other regards. If it does bother her, then ask her to be more aggressive about asking you for it, non-verbally. If I may be indelicate about this for a moment: few men are going to say “no” when they wake up in the middle of the night to find their wives’ mouths buried in their groin playing “find the weasel.” And please feel free to ignore absolutely everything you’ve ever read about this issue, including what I just said, and go with your gut instinct.

—Dr. Kim

Sinking Ship

So it seems that Japan’s Kubota is leaving California for… tada! Texas, thus depriving the Golden (or really, Moonbeam) State of over 500 jobs. The new building will be in Grapevine, just north of DFW airport.

In the comments section under the article are the usual warnings to arriving Californians to leave their bad voting habits behind — I don’t know how many of them are going to make the switch, maybe about two hundred — but the most priceless remarks were about California, e.g.:

Kubota claims that the move is “to be closer to their customer base”, but left unsaid was the rest of the sentence: “…and far away from those lunatic California laws and politicians.”

Allow me to add my welcome to Kubota and their employees, as well as my advice that they leave their terrible California voting habits back in California.

As I’ve said before: Texas is a good state to live and work in because we’re not like California, so don’t try to change that. We have lots of room for people, but no room at all for Lefty politics.

Update: I originally referred to California as the Sunshine State, when as any fule know (except for me, at 6am) that it is the Golden State. My sincerest apologies to the real Sunshine State, Florida. And thankee to Reader mns for the correction.

“Dear Dr. Kim”

“Dear Dr. Kim,
I recently discovered that when we were still married, my ex-husband was having sex with our child’s nanny. He got her pregnant and paid her a huge sum of money after she had an abortion. What can I do to feel better?”

Mel B, Los Angeles

Dear Mel:
I’m a little confused: are you upset because your husband fucked the nanny, or that he paid her 300 grand that he should have spent on you?
As for feeling better about the whole shambles, there’s not a lot I can say which will help you. However, I can make it easier for this situation not to reoccur in the future, by offering you this advice:

1. don’t let your next husband hire the nanny, and
2. when you hire a nanny in the future, try to hire one who looks like this:

…rather than one who looks like this:

You blithering idiot.

— Dr. Kim

“Dear Dr. Kim”

“Dear Dr. Kim,

Before we got married a year ago, my husband-to-be told me that after we got married, he would give up almost everything he did as a bachelor, except one thing: his Sunday morning fishing down at the lake near our house. He leaves before dawn (alone) without waking me up, and is back by about 11am before the weather gets too hot. Every Sunday. It’s starting to bug me; it’s like he wants to get away from me every week. He says it’s his chance to clear his head. I think he’s being selfish. I thought he would change after we got married, but he hasn’t. What should I do?”

—Fishing Widow, Northern Michigan

Dear Widow,
Let me be perfectly blunt, here. You said, “I thought he would change,” which is complete bullshit. What you’re really saying is, ”I thought I could change him,” and you couldn’t. He said he wanted his time alone to clear his head, and he does. More to the point, you agreed to let him have that time alone, and now you want to renege on the deal? Either you didn’t think it was going to be important, and that he’d quit eventually, or you were being dishonest and thought you could get him to stop. Well, he’s not going to stop, and you agreed to the arrangement.

My advice: suck it up, get up early with him, make him a flask of coffee to take along, and give him a loving good-bye kiss. If his time alone is that important to him – and quite frankly, I don’t think a couple hours’ solitude on a Sunday morning is excessive – then take him at his word. Which is what you should have done anyway, before you got married.

—Dr. Kim

“Dear Dr. Kim”

“Dear Dr. Kim,

I live in a college dorm room which has two curtained-off “bedroom alcoves”, each with a desk, and a common area for the little kitchenette my roommate and I share. Here’s the problem: I’m not a particularly neat person, but I keep my untidiness strictly to my side of the room. I’m not a pig in the kitchen – I do my share of the washing up and such, and help keep the kitchen spotless – but my roommate has been on my case ever since the beginning of the semester, saying that my untidiness is affecting her. She is a neatness freak, by the way: her bed is made like in an Army barracks, and her desk is always clear. I use a duvet and seldom make my bed, and my desk is full of books and such (but not dirty dishes). How can I resolve my issue with her?”

– Untidy, Columbus

Dear Untidy,

Tell Roomie Dearest to fuck off. If your “mess” really is contained – i.e. it doesn’t encroach on her living space – and you keep the common area clean and tidy, that’s all she should expect. Frankly, your roommate is not only a pain in the ass, but I foresee a glowing future for her as a Democrat politician, because they too are full of good advice for other people and think they know best how everyone else should live their lives. And the earlier these tiresome control freaks can be contained by us normal people, the better for our society in the long run. If she persists in this nonsense, beat her over the head with a chair – something else we should do to budding Democrats and suchlike busybodies more often.

—Dr. Kim