Monday, December 18, 2006

10.5 Days to go - Interview Fever!

No winners yet in the first annual CCSCDM contest. We've had quite a few submissions here, but everyone has been wide of the mark. I'm kidding, of course, because no one reads this except me, and my Brother-in-Arms Anonymous Cog (and occasionally my wife if she's bored). So, no submissions yet.

I have had several interviews over the past weeks and things are looking pretty good. And when I say "pretty good," I mean that I'm getting pretty good at pretending that December 28 will never arrive. One thing I love about interviewing is a phenomenon I call "Interview Fever". This is condition manifests itself in several ways (none of them good).

Severe memory loss is the most common symptom for me. I call this the "Tabula Rasa", or Blank Slate phenomenon. In a recent interview I was trying to show what a know-it-all I am by citing a piece Keith Dawson did in which he mentions call centers in Egypt. As I began to launch into my convoluted answer to a question about offshoring, Interview Fever took hold and I could barely recall my mother's name, let alone Keith Dawson's. And the point of the article I was citing went flying from my mind. But I ploughed ahead and managed to garble, drool, and hem-and-haw my way through. My interviewer's expression plainly said "What was that all about? What do ancient Egyptians have to do with call centers?"

Blurting out things that you know will not further your cause is another symptom of Interview Fever. I call this phenomenon "Ack!" - as in the sound a cat makes when it coughs up a furball. I once had a panel inteview for an inbound call center manager job - I sat around a table with about eight people and they each asked one question from a sheet, and then moved on to the next person. About an hour into the torture, one of the panel members asked me what my values were. My mind was mush at this point, and I struggled mightily with the answer, and after stammering out a few things, I said, "I don't know - peace, love and understanding? Ack!?" I definitely saw a couple of smirks as certain members of the panel reveled in my discomfort.

A more insidious Interview Fever phenomenon is called "Elvis Has Left the Building". This occurs when the interviewer begins a rather complicated question and about 1/3 into the question (which will make or break the interview), I involuntarily begin to ponder some random mystery of the universe, or some random event from my life 20 years ago. Then I'll tune back in to the question just in time to catch the last sentence. So as I drift from wondering why Tommy Crumley punched Bobby O'Halloran in the eye in 7th grade French class, back to "...given those set of circumstances, how would you address that issue?", a dull panic sets in; I haven't heard the question, and it was so long that I couldn't possibly ask the interviewer to repeat it. At that point I have only one option: First I give the interviewer a full Tabula Rasa. Then I follow it with a resounding "Ack!". And that, my friends, is how I avoid the painfully embarassing predicament of being offered a job.


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