An Interview From Hell

by golbguru on November 14, 2007

Over the past couple of weeks, I have been very busy applying for jobs and preparing for interviews and some such related stuff. I was expecting to steal a couple hours each day from myself to post something on this blog, but it looks like I totally underestimated the amount of time and energy that job hunting can demand. It’s probably typical with students (in certain areas) who are new to the entire recruiting process (?).

The stress of the entire process eventually starts to take a toll on health, general state of mind, quality time, and what not. And then, there comes an interview that almost puts the nails in the coffin. It was one such interview that caused a big break in my blogging between last week and the current one.This interview in fact consisted of 13 one-on-one interviews with technical people (not a single HR representative) at various levels of the organization and one presentation (about my current work) - which was basically an invitation for interested folk to vent their general frustration on me. :) All this culminated in a series of written tests which included everything from IQ/EQ to some serious technical stuff.

I talked and talked (mostly about myself), and then I listened to everything that was being said - and did this from 8:00 am in the morning to 7:00 pm in the evening, with a 15 minute lunch break. Fortunately (and ironically), I was suffering from a pretty acute diarrhea which carried over from the previous day, and that led to several small breaks in the ordeal. I never really saw the positive side of diarrhea till then. :)

Anyways, the shortest interview was about 30 minutes long and the longest lasted for about an hour and 15 minutes! By the end of it all, I guess they probably knew everything about me except the size of my underwear.

Save a few distant recollections of terrible stomach cramps, I don’t have any memory of my journey back home from the interview. It took about 14 hours of sleep, starting later that night, to regain my lost senses. :)

But hey, who said good jobs come easy? :)

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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mark Radoff 11.14.07 at 4:27 am

Dude, I feel your pain. Once did a psychometric evaluation with a psychologist poking around in my psyche in front of the hiring managers. On Sunday. In another country. Really weird. Anyway, I’m working on a system to even the playing field for that kind of crap. Drop by my site if you’re intrigued.

2 Llama Money 11.14.07 at 7:26 am

Might I ask, what field are you applying for a job in? That’s an amazingly exhausting interview.. better hope that jobs pays damn well.

3 The Digerati Life 11.14.07 at 8:36 am

Oh Dear! That sounds like hell alright! I don’t recall interview panels being the norm for me but for one time. I usually have pretty easy interviewing procedures to deal with. In fact, in the last 8 years, I’ve been the one doing most of the interviewing, probably making the interviewees squirm! ;) I wish you all the best on your job hunt and I sure hope you are now all healed from the nasty buy you caught (hopefully nobody at the interview site noticed…. ;) :P)

4 mapgirl 11.14.07 at 10:46 am

gah. Digestive hell during an interview is awful! I get tired after talking to more than 3 people.

Good luck!

5 Golbguru 11.14.07 at 10:57 am

SVB: Unfortunately, people at the interview site did notice. In a room full of seriously quiet people, the growling sound in my stomach was perfectly audible up to a distance of 8 feet (at least!).

Llama money: I am pretty sure the pay is not damn good. But considering all other things that come with the job, it seems to be a perfect match for me. It remains to be seen if they are OK with hiring a growling stomach.

Mapgirl: That’s right; usually, it’s about 2 teams of a few people each or 3~4 one-on-one talks at max per interview - and I was prepared for that, but this thing hit me out of nowhere. I just hope it’s worth all the trouble.

Why, why me!? :)

6 Kyle 11.14.07 at 11:56 am

Wow, I can’t say I feel your pain becuase I have never been through something like that. Hope you get a job offer after all of that, best of luck!

On a side note: This post makes me glad I am self employed. :-)

7 Golbguru 11.14.07 at 1:41 pm

Kyle: I was tempted to talk about that issue of self employment and how I don’t fit into the concept, but it sort of grew into a topic in itself. For now, the only short comment I have about self employment is that it is not for everyone - it’s not just about “freedom” and stuff; it’s also about the liking for particular type of work.

Let’s discuss it sometime next week when I am a bit more energetic. Thanks for mentioning that side note though.

8 MoneyNing 11.14.07 at 2:43 pm

Glad to see that you are back. I’m not a big fan of long interviews and I don’t think it makes that much sense. Some people can be very good at interviews but not at their job while others are great at their jobs but lack the confidence in interviews.

People usually don’t change their mind much after the first impression anyway. Companies spend all this time interviewing that they might as well hire all those people and then make them compete for the job afterwards.

Good luck in your job though since you seemed like you really want to join that firm.

9 devil 11.14.07 at 2:46 pm

Hope you’re feeling better now. All that interview drama couldn’t have helped your already ailing tummy.

I’ve always felt that interviews work both ways. If some sadistic company wanted to put me through this kind of torture, I’d NEVER accept a job with them. No money, perks, or whatever would be worth getting jerked around like this.

But, that’s just me.

10 Mike-TWA 11.14.07 at 3:00 pm

Ok, that just flat out beats any interview experience I’ve had, although I’ve had some doozies. My favorite interviewer trick is for said prospective employer to do you the favor of “inviting” you to dinner after the day-long panel hell. Sticking a plate of whatever in front of you to see how you handle digestion while casually continuing the interview is always loads of fun. In your condition, I think that might have put you over the top.

11 thewild1 11.14.07 at 3:28 pm

I love interviews. Without them I probably wouldn’t have gotten most of the jobs I have had.

12 dimes 11.14.07 at 3:32 pm

I feel your pain! Nothing like a long series of interviews to make stomach stress worse! That one, however, sounds almost like more trouble than it was worth. Either you’re a very serious candidate, or they are jerking you around for fun!

13 Super Saver 11.14.07 at 5:05 pm


I didn’t realize you were interviewing. I thought you were still in the middle years of a PhD.

Good luck in your job search. Sounds like the type of interview an oil company or major tech company might do :-)

14 ispf 11.14.07 at 8:26 pm

Ouch! I had two such interviews (minus the diarrhea) when I was looking for jobs and ironically, did not accept either of those offers. It is hectic and nerve racking, but also a good opportunity to get a feel for the company and the team(s) you are interviewing (and will possibly be working) with. Also, it helps build your confidence and self-marketing skills :) Good Luck! I am sure you will get an offer - the managers wouldn’t expend so much resources on interviewing you if they weren’t considering you seriously for the job.

15 Mr. C. Cross 11.14.07 at 10:12 pm

The job you’re applying for? Is it Chairman of the Skull & Bones Society? Director of the CIA? Or the KGB? I think we already approved the new Attorney General, so that can’t be it. Are you following your personal passion here?

It seems you managed to convince everyone in the company that you’re the one to take orders, follow directions and pretty much do whatever you’re told, even beyond the bounds of civility, reason, personal health and common sense–not to mention labor laws.

If this is the first or second date I would hate to see monstrous child of the marriage.

If this is only the interview, (where both parties typically put forth their best) do you think things will get better?

Would YOU hire such an applicant for a position where intelligence, common-sense, independent executive decision-making abilities and personal integrity are important criteria?

Is this a joke?

16 Golbguru 11.14.07 at 11:10 pm

Mr. C. Cross: I don’t know about you, but I would surely not hire a smart ass dude who gets judgmental about the entire company right during the first meeting - irrespective of how the interview process went.

“It seems you managed to convince everyone in the company that you’re the one to take orders, follow directions and pretty much do whatever you’re told” - that’s a bit too stretched. I don’t see how interview candidates can dictate rules of how to conduct an interview and go against the schedule that your prospective employer hands you.

There is a fine line between “independent executive decision making abilities” and foolishness… :) especially when you are looking at career decision.

Plus, I wouldn’t judge the performance/treatment of the company just based on a day long interview. It’s quite possible that the dude (or the team) who chalked my schedule was a bit too ambitious (and/or inexperienced). May be they didn’t plan things this way to begin with… or whatever.

And if you start making judgments about a candidate’s “intelligence, common-sense, independent executive decision-making abilities and personal integrity” - because he went through with the interview process.. well, that’s just plain offensive.

17 Mr. C. Cross 11.15.07 at 9:07 am

Yes, you are correct, and I agree I was a bit sarcastic in my assessment; but my broader point was to pose the question:

“Does it serve us to jump through hoops while bending over backwards with our hands tied behind our backs to prove our executive competence and dignity?”

If first impressions are so important, is this a good way to start?

My intention was not to be offensive–my post was simply an honest gut-level reaction to your post–it gave me a sick feeling.

I’m sure there are many, many unspoken fine points and subtleties to the whole experience and I’m sure you endured it all for many good reasons.

And whether or not it works out for you I wish you the very best. I regularly enjoy and often benefit from your blog posts.

Thank you.

18 Golbguru 11.15.07 at 9:41 am

Mr. C. Cross: I completely understand your outburst (but I couldn’t let it go unanswered :) ). Be assured that there are no hard feelings.

I guess it’s about our expectations from certain processes that makes us look at the same thing from different perspectives.

Also, sometimes we want something so badly that we are ready to bend over backwards several times for it. I guess it played like that for me somewhat with this potential position.

Thank you for your wishes. I enjoy having you as a reader.

19 paidtwice 11.15.07 at 1:32 pm

I hope that if this is the position you want, that it works out for you and they all loved you :).

What a horrific sounding day, though.

I hope the tummy rumbling has ceased!

20 Sal Manella 11.16.07 at 10:44 pm

Ugh, sounds like an unfortunate experience to have to suffer through. I hope you’ve now recovered fully.

Your interview sounds like the exact opposite of the interview of a guy I did today. Having already interviewed him by phone a week or so ago, I paid to fly him round trip from the West coast to Dallas all in one day (I offered to put him up in a hotel overnight but he declined). Picked him up at the airport in my luxo-barge of a car and drove him to my office downtown. Took him out for a nice Italian meal with some of my colleagues for casual conversation and discussion about our business and his experience. Did some more casual discussion back at the office and verbally confirmed an offer on the spot. While a colleague gave him a grand tour of the office, I prepared a written offer matching the verbal. I handed him the written offer and we shook hands. I drove him back to the airport in the luxo-barge and put him on the plane back to the West Coast, where hopefully he had plenty of time to read over the offer legalese and sign the offer. We’ll see…

21 Credit Wizard 11.18.07 at 6:08 am

I Hate Job Interview’s. Regardless of how much research you do on a company, how much preparation, or how many breathing technigues you use while you are waiting in the car, There are still those mysterious questions that pop up during the interview that thows your confident level over the boat. It seems like it takes forever for an answer to come out.
Peace Out
Credit Wizard

22 Dividends4Life 11.18.07 at 6:44 pm

I don’t envy you having to go through all those interviews. It is no fun on that side of the table, but surprisingly it is not a whole lot of fun on the other side. It seems that we are constantly interviewing for an open position in my department. It takes a lot of prep time to be properly prepared to meet with a candidate. (Hint, if you have a unique name, you and you wife like to do strange things behind closed doors and you like to discuss it on you MySpace site, I would remove it before the interview. – You wouldn’t believe some of the stuff I’ve found her in the pre-screen:). Good luck!

Best Wishes,

23 Mrs. Micah 12.02.07 at 3:39 pm

Ick. If you don’t have stomach problems, drinking plenty of water can also create a few nice breathers.

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