Job interview questions on AskMe June 29, 2013 3:51 PM   Subscribe

I'm curious. What motivates people to give advice on job interview questions? I saw a recent question where the asker was looking for specific ideas to help them deliver a killer presentation in order to land the job of their dreams. Surely, if your advice to the asker is helpful and causes the person to land the job, you're also crushing the dreams of the person who would otherwise have got it had you not helped the Mefite (someone who, perhaps, was going into the interview using all their own ideas, without help of the hive mind)? Is it just tribalism that we prefer the Mefite over the unseen non-Mefite?
posted by dontjumplarry to MetaFilter-Related at 3:51 PM (118 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

What motivates people to give advice on job interview questions?

It's a question on AskMeFi, so if I have information, I answer it.
posted by cooker girl at 3:52 PM on June 29, 2013 [25 favorites]


I say this as someone who has probably answered similar questions in the past.
posted by dontjumplarry at 3:52 PM on June 29, 2013


I guess what I was getting at is that, unlike most AskMe questions, answering these types of questions is at best morally neutral and perhaps causing more harm than good.
posted by dontjumplarry at 3:54 PM on June 29, 2013


Presumably, other candidates have access to good or not-so-good advice, even reading Ask.Me. If all candidates give great interviews, the hiring team will have to figure it out. What motivates people to give advice? The pleasure of being a know-it-all. Is it just tribalism that we prefer the Mefite over the unseen non-Mefite? We tend to promote those in our community, those we've met, family, etc., hence the effectiveness of networking. But Ask.me is freely available, so unseen non-MeFites are welcome to avail themselves of our vast knowledge. But, really, even good interview skills won't get somebody the job without the job skills.

I get a little more concerned about relationship advice where the asker is only able to tell their side of the story, and that comes up in answers from time to time. But if you base relationship decisions on Ask.me answers, you're kind of in over your head.
posted by theora55 at 3:59 PM on June 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Your logic is flawed. If I gave someone advice on how to not burn down their house by overloading an outlet. That advice could put a fireman out of work.
posted by HuronBob at 4:02 PM on June 29, 2013 [27 favorites]


People on here have helped me in a myriad of ways, quite a few times. A cliche, maybe, but answering questions faithfully on AskMe is one way of "paying it back" to this community.

Also, there is a pseudo-librarian ethos. A person needs information-based assistance. So, if you can, you give them that assistance, and move on with your life. The world becomes a very slightly better place.

...perhaps causing more harm than good.

I've open-mindedly rolled this around in my head a few times and still can't / don't get what you mean. Can you put it another way, please?
posted by Wordshore at 4:02 PM on June 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


If someone else who was equally or more qualified who might have needed the job more does not get such advice and loses the chance to get the job because of not having access to our advice then it could be said that the outcome is worse than the alternative.

There are numerous ways that our answering askmefi questions could conceivably make the world a worse place, as could any one of us simply walking out the door in the morning. Living with that moral unknown is just one of many difficulties that come with living life sans omniscience.
posted by the young rope-rider at 4:07 PM on June 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Would you feel the same about this if you were asked for interviewing advice by a friend or family member? If not, I don't see what difference it makes that the advice is given on AskMe. Is it the structured nature of askmes or that there are many people involved in answering an askme? But that's no different than talking to lots of family members or getting help from a professional. Also, since the other job seekers are equally free to gather advice, get professional help, etc, it wouldn't make sense preventing a mefite from doing the same.

As long as the help offered on askme is relevant, helpful, sound, ethical, doesn't cause harm to others I don't see a major problem here.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 4:07 PM on June 29, 2013


Someone who knows how to ask for good advice and put it to use are better qualified for most jobs than people that don't.
posted by empath at 4:08 PM on June 29, 2013 [70 favorites]


I think the idea is that our advice might lead to a lesser candidate/the wrong person getting a job? I don't think that holds, because if you don't gather advice before an interview, you're either ill-prepared and unlikely to get the job anyway, or you are such a fucking rock star that you don't need no damn advice, and the job will be yours. Anyone outside those two groups gets advice, and therefore the AskMe asker has no particular advantage.
posted by donnagirl at 4:10 PM on June 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


As young rope-rider said, it's the idea that you're preventing a possibly better, more experienced candidate (who doesn't have access to crowdsourcing for their preparation) from getting the job.

In particular, I think, helping job candidates who use Mefi probably structurally advantages younger people at the expense of older, more experienced job candidates.

Because we know that those who use Mefi and crowdsourcing in general tend to skew younger.

Would you feel the same about this if you were asked for interviewing advice by a friend or family member?

Yes, I have thought the same in the context of friends. With family, there's such a strong irrational urge to help one's own kin that these kinds of moral questions don't come into play. Most people would save their own child at the expense of 100 strangers' lives, even though it's not ethically desirable.
posted by dontjumplarry at 4:13 PM on June 29, 2013


Umm.. somebody asked a question, and some of us can answer it. Where it was asked is of no relevance, is it? If I met some geezer in a pub and they asked for my opinion about something I knew about, I'd give it. I mean, why not?
posted by Decani at 4:13 PM on June 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't see a problem with this. If a candidate seeks out advice on how to prepare better, then they will be an employee who will more likely care about performing better on the job.
posted by arcticseal at 4:14 PM on June 29, 2013 [6 favorites]


I answer those kinds of questions to bring closer the day that the "job interview" is finally considered by mainstream hiring managers to be a complete joke incapable of discerning the best candidate.
posted by michaelh at 4:17 PM on June 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have a good idea what the answer might be, in real and absolute terms.
posted by boo_radley at 4:17 PM on June 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Someone who knows how to ask for good advice and put it to use are better qualified for most jobs than people that don't.

If a candidate seeks out advice on how to prepare better, then they will be an employee who will more likely care about performing better on the job.

These kinds of statements are unfounded. Knowing about resources like AskMe is not the only way that a person can seek advice, and different people have different access to people who know about things like job interview etiquette. For example, someone might be from another culture and their parents, friends, etc. all know about interviewing in that culture and can't give great advice. This is the reasoning behind cultural affinity groups at colleges providing interviewing workshops and things like that.

There is a real moral issue here, and one that is not solvable without knowing all of the facts of the situation (like who else is interviewing for the job and what resources they have).
posted by the young rope-rider at 4:20 PM on June 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


So the people who go to interviewing workshops have an advantage over people that don't.

I mean us helping people fix OKcupid profiles gives people an unfair advantage in finding love. Life isn't fair.

It costs five dollars to get a metafilter account and ask metafilter comes up constantly in searches for all minds of questions, so you don't even necessarily need to pay five dollars to take ad advantage of the advice.

Its a warped sense of morality that finds people giving free advice to strangers to be morally problematic.
posted by empath at 4:27 PM on June 29, 2013 [23 favorites]


I guess what I'm saying is that if doing that is wrong, then we might as well shut down ask, because I don't think there is a single use-case for it that wouldn't give some advantage at something to people that use it.

Maybe we can still name pets and help people with mix CDs.
posted by empath at 4:30 PM on June 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


You're overlooking a key point: If the other person asked, I'd help them, too.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 4:33 PM on June 29, 2013 [31 favorites]


I think the obvious next step is to convince Amazon and other booksellers to stop selling books offering interview advice.

GIGO
posted by tservo at 4:34 PM on June 29, 2013


You could extend this to all kinds of things. Someone asks for advice on meeting people to date. What if they wind up in a bad relationship? What if they're a serial killer and we've given them the tools they'll use to find their next villain? Someone asks for advice fixing their leaking roof. Shouldn't that have given a plumber employment? Maybe if they didn't know how to fix it, they would've moved out of their house because of the leak and been spared the pain and trouble of it burning down in 10 years. And so on.

The other thing is that advice for succeeding on job interviews is not exactly a dark secret? It's very likely the other applicants have access to resources about how to do well on job interviews--up to and including the publicly visible AskMe thread that their rival posted.
posted by kagredon at 4:37 PM on June 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


This came up frequently when I worked at The Princeton Review which was a place that helped people score better on standardized tests. Isn't giving help to people who nominally already have the wherewithall to seek out these classes and pay for them continuing the unfair leg-up that the privileged classes always get? And our answer at the time was "Sort of." While it was true that we offered scholarships and really tried hard to get our information available to the widest possible audience (there were no secrets held back between the books we published that were freely available and libraries and what you'd get from our classes) there was also truth to the fact that, for the most part, these classes helped people with means do even better than they might have otherwise in a situation where they were in competition for scarce resources.

So, setting aside that for a moment I guess my feeling on this sort of thing is that a resourceful candidate for a job (whether resources are better grooming, better connections, better library users, better users of AskMe, better spellers) is likely going to be a better candidate. Helping someone brainstorm ideas for a presentation still isn't writing the presentation for them. Helping someone answer interview questions better still isn't altering the facts on their resume. Even helping them write a more well-formatted resume isn't going to alter their general qualifications as a candidate.

I don't see giving people more information as zero sum. Everyone can get more information including anyone applying for that particular job. I think there may be cases where maybe MeFites hire MeFites instead of random people (Maybe? Isn't that what Jobs is for?) but I don't see AskMe, at all, at doing anything negative to strangers (dream crushing, really?) by benefit of doing something positive to someone we may barely know.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:38 PM on June 29, 2013 [16 favorites]


If a person asks for interview advice on AskMe, theoretically, their competition for that same interview can see the answers too.
posted by loveyallaround at 4:47 PM on June 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


help people with mix CDs.

Like that isn't a completely zero-sum game for most people.
posted by michaelh at 4:59 PM on June 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's a question on AskMeFi, so if I have information, I answer it.

That.

I'd hate to live my life thinking I shouldn't help anyone who asks me for help because I might be putting someone else at a disadvantage. If you're smart enough to use AskMeFi effectively (whether as asker or lurker or any possible role) and land a life-changing job, good on you, you're resourceful!
posted by lordaych at 5:03 PM on June 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


There's nothing wrong with playing in a zero-sum game and trying to win it. It's not inherently immoral.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:11 PM on June 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


By answering a question on MetaFilter I am raising the average level of competency in the world.
posted by dfan at 5:13 PM on June 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


I feel like this is sort of a bizarre question/assumption/idek? I mean, I am a lifelong narcissist with an ego approximately the size of jupiter but I do not delude myself that my advice on the internets is somehow the pivotal earthshattering moment in the lives of near-strangers such that they succeed at my hand while others fail, dreams crushed, illusions shattered, all hope lost for eternity and a day.

it's just a little too LOOK ON MY WORKS YE MIGHTY AND DESPAIR for me i guess
posted by elizardbits at 5:16 PM on June 29, 2013 [23 favorites]


Well clearly I'm a living legend because I totally aced my last job interview and never used AskMe no sir I didn't even take a peek

*deletes browser history*
posted by Doleful Creature at 5:17 PM on June 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you take your logic to its logical conclusion, you'd never apply for a job yourself. After all, if you got it, you'd be depriving someone else of a job.

And you'd largely sit immobile in your home (assuming you'd still have one) for fear of taking things away from others. That degree of communism is foolishness.

Every time you breath you use oxygen that someone else might need; I guess you better stop, hadn't you?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:18 PM on June 29, 2013 [10 favorites]


When I see a job interview question posted, I immediately launch my tracking skills to find the other candidates and offer them advice.
posted by DU at 5:27 PM on June 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


So how did you justify accepting the job you currently have, dontjumplarry? You kept someone else from getting it.
posted by orange swan at 5:32 PM on June 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


Knowing how to find out how to do something well, including by asking the advice of other people, is a valuable job skill. The person who can put on a better presentation with help is more of an asset to an organization than the person who can put on a better presentation without. I find test prep kinds of things slightly morally questionable because the pricing generally puts them out of the reach of poor people. Asking the advice of strangers on the internet is not out of the reach of anybody who feels like doing it.
posted by Sequence at 5:43 PM on June 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Community.
posted by alms at 5:43 PM on June 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Everything posted to Ask is indexed by Google and other search engines almost instantly, and the traffic to a given thread thereafter from non-members searching for stuff outweighs that of members by what is almost certainly orders of magnitude, especially after it's off the front page.

Your assumptions here are flawed, or at least incomplete.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:45 PM on June 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Would you feel the same about this if you were asked for interviewing advice by a friend or family member?

Yes, I have thought the same in the context of friends.
i think this is an important point. it's my feeling that many (most?) people are fine, ever eager, to help friends with things like resumes and role playing interviews and such. and, honestly, most people i know have gotten their jobs by knowing someone. if anything, helping someone on metafilter might give them the leg up to overcome the extreme tendency towards networking being the most important part.

i'm also confused by the idea that metafilter skews younger. i mean, we're not reddit. it's my impression that we're 30-40 on average, which is pretty much middle of the pack on job ages, yeah?
posted by nadawi at 5:52 PM on June 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm motivated to give answers about interviewing or any job related topics because I'm a career counselor, and sometimes a question tickles my fancy. Full disclosure: I gave advice about how to prepare a strong presentation in the thread I think you're talking about.

I've thought about this topic quite a lot - access and privilege within the context of work - and the way I figure it in this particular case is this. There are two parts to interviewing. The first might be to give a candidate an idea or an explanation. But the second is that they have to pull it off. I can think of thebdozens of times I've broken down info or given an idea: say the principles of negotiating a compensation package: I mean explained the concept, the framework, the psychology, the process, and the actual language, and answered questions ( explained the whole idea) but then seen them totally botch every aspect of it when we practiced a mock interview right afterwards. (they couldn't yet pull it off).

Because of this I think that a candidate who considers their resources and utilizes them is savvy, but know that anyone can give anyone an idea, but it is the skillfullness of the execution that will make or break a candidate. Particularly for this interview, since it is career center focused. They are going to be evaluated on their content: topic, their goals/learning outcomes, and their delivery: is it logically organized, is it engaging, etc. Even if the person takes any of the ideas posted here, a lousy delivery is a lousy delivery.

Also, since it is a public forum, I wouldn't ding any candidate who googled career counseling presentation and found this thread, or examples from other university career sites, etc....I'd call that using their resources.
posted by anitanita at 6:03 PM on June 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


How do you know that the competitor for the job didn't read the asker's question, use that info to beat the person that asked out, and the asker would have been better to stay silent? Perhaps 100 people will read the answer and all those people will get jobs...the greater good!
posted by cjorgensen at 6:06 PM on June 29, 2013


OK "crushing someone's dreams" was hyperbolic. I was just using it to contrast with the way askers seek help in getting the "job of their dreams".

I've answered these questions before and probably will again, and I also am happy to give an advantage to myself or my family members, as most humans are. It's a tu quoque fallacy to suggest that simply because I do something myself that my arguments must be invalid.

But as others have pointed out, the advice given by experts like anitanita above on these types of questions isn't just used by the asker but becomes part of a public forum that's free to use by people without access to traditional advice or personal networks.

I'm inclined to think that the good that achieves outweighs whatever minor structural advantage it might give to net-savvy Mefi askers.
posted by dontjumplarry at 6:12 PM on June 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


So you think it is fine but started a Meta to call it out anyway?
posted by Justinian at 6:13 PM on June 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


1. Job interviews are a bit unrelated to job performance. If your friend asks you to tie his tie for him before he goes on a job interview, do you worry then that you are misleading the interviewers, because obviously they are looking for someone who knows how to tie a tie?

2. When you hire a person you are also in effect hiring the personal infrastructure that supports them. Maybe one candidate has a supportive home life while another has baggage. Perhaps that is unfair, but nevertheless a person's infrastructure counts as part of a reason to hire them. You can't separate the two easily.

3. Even if you prioritize tings that come from inside the candidate's brain and indicate job fitness, knowing to ask for help and advice, and then being able to utilize it constructive, is actually a job skill.

I consider my section of the plate of beans to be fully overthought.
posted by fleacircus at 6:16 PM on June 29, 2013 [2 favorites]

So you think it is fine but started a Meta to call it out anyway?
This wasn't a callout, it was bringing up an interesting topic and it has resulted in an interesting discussion.
posted by dfan at 6:16 PM on June 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


Yep, as dfan says, not a call out, but a conversation in my opinion. And an interesting one.
posted by anitanita at 6:18 PM on June 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


I am comfortable saying it's pure tribalism. I want the Mefite to succeed over the person I have no connection to.
posted by corb at 6:26 PM on June 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Tribalism makes no sense as an explanation because it fails to explain why people start websites and write books devoted to helping others get jobs. There's no a priori tribe there.

People like to help people. People like to look smart. Giving people advice kills at least two birds with one stone.
posted by DU at 6:43 PM on June 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


I do a lot of interviews and the candidates aren't competing against each other, they are convincing us that they can do the job. It's not like software engineers are breaking down our doors, we'll hire anyone who's qualified. My team has three people starting on Monday even though we were only interviewing for two positions. All three were really good so we gave them all offers.
posted by octothorpe at 6:45 PM on June 29, 2013


I'm 42, looking for work and am reading through job interview advice on AskMe, so not every person who reads the advice given is very young.

I think that we naturally give preference to the concrete situation of a real person asking a question over the abstract possibility of some hypothetical who isn't. It isn't possible to foresee all of the consequences of even our most trivial actions. Did I deny my wife the opportunity to be happier with a better man by going with my friend to that place that night over 20 years ago? Did I prevent her from getting into a fatal car crash that night by talking to her for an hour in the parking lot, thus avoiding the semi that would have hit her? Did an offhanded remark I made today to my son have some profound effect on how he sees things when he becomes an adult? What was the effect of the $5 I gave to the man who was begging on the corner yesterday? Did I save him from going to bed hungry or did I help him die from a drug overdose?

No one can untangle the infinite web of actions and consequences.
posted by double block and bleed at 6:55 PM on June 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Speaking for myself, I enjoy crushing the dreams of non-Mefites.
posted by Flunkie at 7:06 PM on June 29, 2013 [12 favorites]


Metafilter: crushing dreams.
posted by kagredon at 7:15 PM on June 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


It is a very interesting discussion and one that has forced me to confront somewhat reluctantly the fact that at least half the suggestions I make on AskMe are not actually the actions I would take myself, since those actions would usually boil down to "punch that person in the face right now do it yes good"; I suppose the things I recommend people do are the things I would do if I were a good person.

spoiler alert: i am not

The stuff about asparagus and pet names is totally honest though.
posted by elizardbits at 7:17 PM on June 29, 2013 [13 favorites]


In addition to many of the good reasons above, I have given interview advice on AskMefi (and other places) because I've conducted too many job interviews that ranged from mildly unpleasant to excruciatingly painful.

Anything I can do to reduce the odds of that happening is time well spent, in my opinion.
posted by scrute at 7:18 PM on June 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Plus, I don't see it as a moral issue since I would rather hire someone who was motivated enough to prepare well.
posted by scrute at 7:19 PM on June 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Easy answer: the same reason we do anything on Metafilter, for the favorites.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:25 PM on June 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


If job interviews were conducted with whips and flaming hoops it would be less abusive than what often really happens.

I have nothing to offer in those threads.
posted by jamjam at 7:39 PM on June 29, 2013


we know that those who use Mefi and crowdsourcing in general tend to skew younger.

Younger than what? Also, we "know? this?

I really don't think MetaFilter skews younger at all, at least not at this stage in the life of the internet. If anything I think the opposite compared to other open discussion fora.

As young rope-rider said, it's the idea that you're preventing a possibly better, more experienced candidate (who doesn't have access to crowdsourcing for their preparation) from getting the job.

it's the idea that you're preventing a possibly better, more experienced candidate (who doesn't have access to crowdsourcing for their preparation) from getting the job.

I think this might be a worry if jobs were awarded on a set of criteria that you can learn through advice. Basically, jobs aren't just round holes for round pegs and you just pick the roundest of all the round pegs. At least in my field in this economy, you wouldn't be getting an interview at all if you didn't have most of the important qualifications. By the time someone gets an interview, what people are often looking for is fit with the existing team, work culture, etc. So we don't usually need to worry about "uh oh, maybe we missed a "more experienced" candidate" because even if A has more experience or is more qualified on paper, if B has the right base amount of experience and otherwise works with the team and the current goals better, then the right choice is B.

In fact, in my experience as a hiring manager, almost all job advice is more of the kind that helps you not disqualify yourself, as opposed to giving you an edge in qualifications over others. You can easily screw up your own interview, and most interview advice is much more "don't screw up your chance" advice than "this is a clincher that will get you the job" advice. None of us can actually know exactly what the clincher will be for a job we aren't hiring for, so we can't give it away like a prize to someone on AskMe anyhow.
posted by Miko at 8:03 PM on June 29, 2013 [11 favorites]


Soon as Kitty left him, d'Artagnan directed his steps toward the Rue Ferou.

He found Athos and Aramis philosophizing. Aramis had some slight inclination to resume the cassock. Athos, according to his system, neither encouraged nor dissuaded him. Athos believed that everyone should be left to his own free will. He never gave advice but when it was asked, and even then he required to be asked twice.

"People, in general," he said, "only ask advice not to follow it; or if they do follow it, it is for the sake of having someone to blame for having given it."
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 8:05 PM on June 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


dontjumplarry write...
(someone who, perhaps, was going into the interview using all their own ideas, without help of the hive mind)?

To seize on that particular example, what sort of job do you have in mind where a superior candidate would be one who used strictly their own ideas?
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 8:05 PM on June 29, 2013


Also, where does one get their "own ideas?" I guess they can't have attended school or read books or had any previous jobs.

It soon becomes a big philosophical question.

90% of success in life is access to resources. Resources aren't fairly distributed, either.
A good general piece of advice to everyone is to use every resource you can possibly get your hands on (ethically). If someone can't afford thousands of dollars for a career coach, I'm damn glad they have AskMe to help them level the playing field and not select themselves out too early.
posted by Miko at 8:12 PM on June 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


Everything else aside,

a) This is a community I am part of and like, so yes, everything else being equal, I give preference to someone who is a member here.

b) Employment is not a zero-sum game at all. Not even close. There are a TON of jobs in this country going unfilled because of inability to find the right person. Companies don't just hire the best person they can find if the best person they can find is unqualified.
posted by drjimmy11 at 8:20 PM on June 29, 2013


Wouldn't anyone looking for a job be able to see the relevant AskMe threads? This seems like pointless handwringing.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:22 PM on June 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Baseball analogy: Mariano Rivera, the Yankees' legendary closer, is famous for one pitch: the cutter. It's how he makes his living. And you'd think that he'd want to keep it quiet since, y'know, maybe some younger guy can throw it just as well and he's cheaper and just a touch faster or better or whatever and, welp, there goes Mo's career. But the truth is quite the opposite of that: He's shown the grip and how to throw it to a bunch of pitchers over the years. And though a lot of people will throw a cut fastball, no one's quiiiiiite done it like Mo has.

And honestly? That's what it comes down to for me. I'll give you the tools but there's no guarantee you'll master it or be able to do what I do.

Besides, job interviews aren't usually fair evaluations of a candidate's skills because if they were, it'd come down to the classic "Just give me money and I do shit for you." It's like the SATs. Part of it is a test of an ability, but most of it is about how good a job you can do preparing to take a test, in this case the job interview test. Are you smart enough to NOT say "Just give me money and I'll do shit for you" and instead mealy-mouth something about "great corporate culture" and how you really want to "increase shareholder value"? Are you smart enough to put down "open schedule" when asked what hours you can work because you know people with strict hours are muuuuch less likely to be hired?

My wife used to work a lot of retail gigs and part of every hiring process was those personality tests. And she'd fail them. Because she was too honest. Like the question would be "I have thought about stealing from my employer", and she'd choose "Yes", because hey, who hasn't thought about taking the drawer or safe or whatever full of cash and and running off to Tahiti? Or "Sometimes I get really mad", and she'd pick "Yes," because who doesn't?

But if you choose that, you fail the test, because what they want is someone so indoctrinated they'd say "No" or someone smart enough to know the correct answer to every question is "No, I am a perfect corporate drone and will sacrifice literally anything in exchange for the pittance my masters deign to offer me." By contrast, I'd always pass them with flying colors because I knew they didn't want actual honestly, they wanted abject devotion and worship and for the sake of the test I was always a Disney Princess-level chipper drone that would sacrifice anything to help Mother Corporation.

So yeah, I don't mind helping people game the system, because the system is already rigged.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 8:31 PM on June 29, 2013 [10 favorites]


I would like every job in the world to go to the best qualified candidate. If people are screwing up a job interview simply due to some lack of information that would help them ace it, then that prevents the job going to the best candidate, and instead just depends on who has the most friends or the best access to outside advice or whatever.

If every candidate for a given job asked me for advice, I would give them all great advice and hope that that enables them all to perform to their best in the interview, so that the interviewers can see their skills and knowledge properly and therefore hire the best person.
posted by lollusc at 8:33 PM on June 29, 2013


This actually happened to me a while ago, where I knew all three of the candidates who were being interviewed for a job at my institution, and they all approached me for advice and tips. I did exactly what I said here, and helped them all out. (And told each of them that I was also advising the others.)
posted by lollusc at 8:35 PM on June 29, 2013


This question comes from the same thought neighborhood as the idea that studying for a test is cheating. It isn't.

You're expected to arrive at the interview fully prepared. It's not a pop quiz, and you don't earn extra credit for not receiving any assistance from anyone. Not everyone has access to the same resources and advantages, and the candidate's ability to leverage those differences is intended to be part of the evaluation.
posted by ceribus peribus at 8:36 PM on June 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


I play in chess tournaments, which is a very competitive zero-sum environment; if you beat someone you take rating points away from him, and people place a lot of stock on ratings, so it's in your best interest for other players to not improve. Nevertheless, after a multi-hour game, before the next round starts you'll often find players mutually analyzing the game they just played together, with the stronger player advising the weaker about what mistakes he made, or what the correct opening move he should have played was. It's totally bad practice from a competitive standpoint, but people do it all the time, largely because they love the game so much that they want everyone to get better at it. I often enjoy it more than the actual games.
posted by dfan at 8:54 PM on June 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm not hand-wringing, I just said I was curious.
posted by dontjumplarry at 9:18 PM on June 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Removing distractions like bad outfits, naieve answers to interview questions, etc. removes "noise" from the job-filling process, increasing employers' ability to focus on relevant qualitites of the candidate.

This increases the chance that people will be matched to the jobs that best fit them, and that jobs will be matched to the people that best fit them.

End result: better products, better services, stronger businesses, happier people.

So, a good thing, on the whole.
posted by amtho at 9:22 PM on June 29, 2013


I'm motivated by treats. Will there be treats at all?
posted by Divine_Wino at 9:31 PM on June 29, 2013


no

no treats for anyone

only la tendre indifference du monde
posted by elizardbits at 9:59 PM on June 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


There are numerous ways that our answering askmefi questions could conceivably make the world a worse place

I think efficient body disposal makes the world a better place. The neighbors don't have to tolerate the stench of death, for one.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 10:18 PM on June 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Even if you prioritize tings that come from inside the candidate's brain

Wait, you mean the hiring committee could hear the tings that come from inside my brain?
posted by medusa at 10:20 PM on June 29, 2013


Since we're talking job interviews anyway, I want to share a good experience I had this week.

I've interviewed for a good number of software engineering jobs over the years. The formula is basically the same everywhere: sit in a room while somewhere between 5 and 8 people come in and spend 45 minutes a piece asking questions. Generally this involves them looking at the resume that was sent out two days before, that they printed out two minutes before, that they're just now reading for the very first time. And then you get to draw the same diagrams over and over again answering slight variants of questions about whatever you put in bold print.

This week I did an interview where they asked me in advance to put together a 1 hour slide presentation covering four or five projects I had done that I thought were relevant to the job. I presented the talk first thing to the entire group of interviewers along with a very brief bio.

The following interviews were productive all around. Nobody had read the resume but it didn't matter as much as they got to ask me detailed questions about the presentation. And I didn't have to answer the question "So... tell me about yourself" eight times.

I'll definitely adopt the idea for interviews I conduct in the future. The only difference is that I might cut the interviews to 30 minutes based the head start everyone has.

I suspect there may be industries where this is the norm but this was the first time I've encountered it in software engineering. Pretty nice.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:59 PM on June 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think efficient body disposal makes the world a better place.

That advice is also likely to leave tell-tale evidence all over the place so it does the service of getting a murderer convicted as well.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:02 PM on June 29, 2013


I think job interview advice on MeFi is orders of magnitude less problematic than the SAT prep course referenced above. To get to the same level, we'd have to run resume clinics with detailed rewriting and multiple rounds of revisions, drill on common interview questions, and teach bizarre mnemonics.

I'm pretty sure that the majority of people can interview badly on one day and really well on the next. In other words, people are not very consistent and there is a wide range in their day-to-day performance.

I'm also really sure that no advice MeFi could give can bootstrap somebody out of their "interviewin' range" into a whole new level of performance. Read over past AskMefi questions about job interviews and consider whether any interview could hinge on the answers given therein.
posted by Nomyte at 11:22 PM on June 29, 2013


Surely, if your advice to the asker is helpful and causes the person to land the job, you're also crushing the dreams of the person who would otherwise have got it had you not helped the Mefite (someone who, perhaps, was going into the interview using all their own ideas, without help of the hive mind)?

A better assumption would be that everyone gets advice before interviews, and no one is completely original. The OP is going to get interview advice from somewhere — why not us?

I guess what I was getting at is that, unlike most AskMe questions, answering these types of questions is at best morally neutral and perhaps causing more harm than good.

No, it could cause more good, by helping the OP put their "best self" on display. It's not like giving someone the answers to a test that's graded on a curve — the OP should end up doing an honest performance at the interview. And the employer should be skilled enough to detect if the OP is being insincere.
posted by John Cohen at 11:22 PM on June 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's also worth noting that if answering job-interview AskMes is pointless, the same applies to questions about online dating profiles and first dates.
posted by John Cohen at 11:26 PM on June 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Besides, job interviews aren't usually fair evaluations of a candidate's skills because if they were, it'd come down to the classic "Just give me money and I do shit for you." It's like the SATs. Part of it is a test of an ability, but most of it is about how good a job you can do preparing to take a test, in this case the job interview test. Are you smart enough to NOT say "Just give me money and I'll do shit for you" and instead mealy-mouth something about "great corporate culture" and how you really want to "increase shareholder value"? Are you smart enough to put down "open schedule" when asked what hours you can work because you know people with strict hours are muuuuch less likely to be hired? "

I once got fired from a job (that I was good at, but came to absolutely loathe) and during the "exit interview," my former boss said, "In the interview, we asked you if you were good with details, and you told us yes."

And it's like, yeah, but they ask that everywhere, and only an idiot would say, "No," even if it's true. I thought that was a mutually understood polite fiction, like your horseshit about valuing employees and innovation.
posted by klangklangston at 12:06 AM on June 30, 2013 [12 favorites]


I am an awesome person. Because I am an awesome person, I am an active Mefite. When I decided I wanted to get a job that allowed me to be even more awesome, I turned to AskMe for some advice on how to move into this much more awesome job. I got great advice and made that awesome new job a reality and now I use my skills every day to do awesome things at this new job which is awesome beyond belief. I'm doing much more awesome things for the world because I turned to AskMe for advice. AskMe allowed me to reach my full potential of awesome. It's because AskMe attracts awesome people who want to do awesome things, and great advice is dispensed to those who want to maximize their awesomeness. Perhaps my employer could have found a candidate who was more productive, or a better team player, or whatever, but AskMe helped me put forth who I was and what I wanted to do and my employer said "yes, this is the guy for us" and things worked out great. AskMe didn't help me game an interview process, AskMe helped me get into a position that was perfect for me, and perfect for my employer. I suppose it is possible, that some one competing against me could have received some advice that would have helped them land the job more successfully but in the end that didn't happen because in my case my employer wanted someone awesome who was perfect for the job they had, and not someone who learned how to ace an interview by getting interview advice from the Internet. If it was a job that really valued someone's ability to prep for an interview then they would have got the job and I'd be fine not getting a job that values things I find artificial and unimportant.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 12:36 AM on June 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


All resources are finite. Individuals or hive-individuals compete for these resources. Aid provided disturbs the balance. Speak not during the eternal conflict and let only the screams of the vanquished and the roar of victors ring in the void.
posted by adipocere at 1:08 AM on June 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think the poster is right, by giving our sage advice we are at risk of creating an uber sect of highly paid people- a bit like that ayn rand book.
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:56 AM on June 30, 2013


If an AskMeFi question gets an unqualified person hired over a qualified person, the truly unqualified person is the one doing the hiring.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:43 AM on June 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


The ideal position is that all candidates present as well as they possibly can; that produces the greatest likelihood of the best candidate winning. Note that this is not equally the case if all candidates present poorly, because then relevant factors may not emerge. So as well as helping the Mefite, we help the interview succeed. The general moral is that everyone should help interview candidates.

Yes, there is a small chance we might help a slightly inferior candidate win, but it's more likely that if we change the result at all, we will be helping the right one win instead of a less good one. Presentation technique alone will not make an unsuitable candidate succeed.

Setting all that aside, we are helping the Mefite feel that they did the best they could, which will help allay regret and resentment even if they fail.
posted by Segundus at 5:48 AM on June 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


I suspect there may be industries where this is the norm but this was the first time I've encountered it in software engineering.

It's pretty much the norm in the sciences. It also helps focus probing questions on the work the candidate has done rather than irrelevant quizzing on general topics. And in most cases the individual interviews can then be used for the candidate to learn about the organization and work rather than for scrutinizing the candidate. I think it is a great way to do things overall.
posted by grouse at 6:03 AM on June 30, 2013


Part of it is a test of an ability, but most of it is about how good a job you can do preparing to take a test, in this case the job interview test. Are you smart enough to NOT say "Just give me money and I'll do shit for you" and instead mealy-mouth something about "great corporate culture" and how you really want to "increase shareholder value"? Are you smart enough to put down "open schedule" when asked what hours you can work because you know people with strict hours are muuuuch less likely to be hired? "

It depends on the interviewer. If the person conducting the interview isn't very good at it, it does become what you describe.

However, I try to make it useful for myself as a hiring manager. I avoid some common questions I think are useless. I never ask "what's your biggest weakness" (unless it's going poorly and I need to vamp for a bit). Firstly, it's an inherently unfair question. More importantly, I'm going to get the most bullshit answer possible; it's asking you to lie to me. Finally, even if you answer it honestly, I don't care what you think your weakness is. You're not going to be your manager, I am, so I will form my own opinion. I know the job better than you, so your estimation of how your weaknesses may come to play in the role is not very useful.

I focus on a few things that I know will come to play in the job. Written and oral communication is very important in the role; so I ask open ended questions and ask for more detail and clarification. I don't actually care about the story the candidate is telling, but I am looking for the ability to effectively express oneself. Professionalism matters (because it's not that high paying of a job, so we get a lot of candidates who don't treat it as a "real job", and who probably are not ready for an office/corporate environment). So, I look for how serious they are taking the interview.

Now, I'm only hiring for entry level positions, so I can afford not to look for specific skills. If I was interviewing for my position or higher, I think I would have to change my approach. Also, I have an advantage in that I used to be in the position I hire for; you can tell when a manager hasn't had to do the job they supervise. The often suck at it.
posted by spaltavian at 6:52 AM on June 30, 2013


Anybody with an Internet connection can see askme answers, unlike, say, Quora. Talk about tribalism!

(I still don't understand how their model works, what with apparently having to be logged in to see anything? Or is that not the case anymore?)
posted by rtha at 6:59 AM on June 30, 2013


I'm pretty sure that the majority of people can interview badly on one day and really well on the next.

I'm curious about this, actually. When I sort of think about how I've interviewed in the past I feel like I'm pretty consistent. Absent a really terrible night of sleep, I'm pretty much me in interviews and I think I could get that across under most circumstances. There are other situations like public speaking where what's going on in the rest of my life very much affects how I do and I feel like i have to hypercontrol my environment to make sure I do a good job since people are paying me. The stress of having to do this all the time is one of the reasons I don't do as much public speaking anymore. Do people think they really would interview really differently from day to day?

It should surprise no one that I did not interview for this MetaFilter job at all.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:10 AM on June 30, 2013


Do people think they really would interview really differently from day to day?

I do, definitely. Sometimes I'm in the zone and can handle any question they throw at me (I usually get these jobs). Other times I'm either tongue-tied or get verbal diarrhea, or both in the same interview. My state of mind is a big factor, but it's also the questions, the personalities of the interviewers and of course the job that I'm going for that affect my performance.

OTOH, I public speaking is just me talking so it's always about the same (as long as I've prepared what I'm going to say and don't have to deal with unfamiliar technology).

So Jessamyn, how about you do my interviews and I'll do your public speaking?
posted by pianissimo at 7:56 AM on June 30, 2013


What motivates people to give advice on job interview questions? I saw a recent question where the asker was looking for specific ideas to help them deliver a killer presentation in order to land the job of their dreams. Surely, if your advice to the asker is helpful and causes the person to land the job, you're also crushing the dreams of the person who would otherwise have got it had you not helped the Mefite (someone who, perhaps, was going into the interview using all their own ideas, without help of the hive mind)? Is it just tribalism that we prefer the Mefite over the unseen non-Mefite?

Everyone has the same opportunity to come to a place like metafilter and get the best job advice that they possibly can, and arguably should do so before a job interview that is important to them. It's an even playing field, even if some are ignorant (or unwilling to avail themselves) of the opportunities.
posted by SpacemanStix at 8:14 AM on June 30, 2013


I can definitely recall interviews where I did not do as well as I did in other interviews. Every now and then personality or style of one of the interviewers will intentionally rattle you. I was pretty weirded out and uneasy during my first interview involving Skype a few years back. If I had a stressful time getting to the place because of traffic or weather or something, it can be hard to re-center. Another variable is how much advance information you get about the interview - how to prepare, how long to allot, who you'll be meeting with - some places are really great about this, some not so much. And so on.

There's a lot about interviewing that's chemistry, too. If the chemistry's not good with the staff interviewing you, the interview isn't likely to be great, but at the same time that's also a sign that you're probably not a fit, so fine.

A lot of the interview structures that complex organizations are using today are also gamed a little bit. So, for those full-day, multi-appointment interview days where you meet with a dozen different people in different groupings and have lunch with people and the like, there is quite often someone in that mix who is a bit more of a hostile interview whose role is to push and test more than the others. So you can feel uneven even over the course of one interview day.
posted by Miko at 8:36 AM on June 30, 2013


I once got fired from a job (that I was good at, but came to absolutely loathe) and during the "exit interview," my former boss said, "In the interview, we asked you if you were good with details, and you told us yes."

And it's like, yeah, but they ask that everywhere, and only an idiot would say, "No," even if it's true. I thought that was a mutually understood polite fiction, like your horseshit about valuing employees and innovation.


We ask this question, and we mean it when we ask it. However, it's not generally a yes or no sort of answer that we are looking for at the end. For example, I'm in a highly administrative job, although that doesn't come naturally to me. What I was asked (and what we look for in new hires) is whether people have come up with ways to compensate for deficiencies in inherent tendencies. I've come up with ways to cope with the fact that I'm more "big picture" than details, and being able to talk about this process is the most important thing (and whether we think people are being genuine about it). If this wasn't a follow-up discussion to the initial question, though, then the fault lies with the interviewer, I think.
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:07 AM on June 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


My last job interview within a company at which i already worked I talked to the people in my prospective department. They gave me some suggestions about things to bring to my interview, so I followed their advice.

Turns out that while they gave everyone who asked about the job that advice, I was the only one who followed it. So I got the job.

It's the same kind of thing for AskMe questions. Good job candidates are already looking for and utilizing suggestions about interviewing from a number of sources. We're just one more source here. If people are not doing that research then it's not the fault of people who do prepare or help others prepare, particularly when it's free.
posted by winna at 9:16 AM on June 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


What motivates people to give advice on job interview questions?

I want people to be happy. So if I can help someone be happy by sharing some things I've learned through the years (interviewing for jobs, life after divorce, playing a holy paladin) then in return I feel happy. It's all about the happy.
posted by kimberussell at 9:16 AM on June 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah it's a sort of tribalism. This is the MeFi tribe. If I take your point, that not all tribal members will always aspire to worthy goals, then your argument has worthy aspects.

I won't break anyone's legs for you, or tell you where to find someone who'll do that. (I'll get back to this.)

Doing more harm than good: you can make that argument about having children. How do you know they won't grow up to be awful persons? My point here being that details sometimes make a difference.

I refrain from encouraging someone to do violence to another person (in fact, I would argue against it) Telling someone to shine his shoes and get a good nights sleep, sit up straight, and have his thoughts arranged (et cetera an so on) doesn't seem to be wrong-headed. I wouldn't suggest any underhanded strategies. I wouldn't support the MeFite if he said that his competitor was a single parent trying to get off welfare, and he (the MeFite) wanted the job because he'd made a bet with one of his buddies down at the polo club on whether he could get it. Absent these sorts of qualifiers, any two job applicants ought to be allowed to be coached as best the can by their friends, relatives, or the casual acquaintance they met on the subway that morning.

I agree with your notion that advice ought to be considered on a level above the face of the question, but I'm not on board with excessive extrapolation. Sometimes it's appropriate to ask the questioner for a few more details. One thing: I am learning that, on the Green, it's wise to assume good faith.

Tangentially, some questions offer me a chance to examine my own house, to see if I can't rearrange my own furniture a bit. In those cases, composing a response, but not posting it, does us all a better service than me spreading my joy around the site.
posted by mule98J at 9:57 AM on June 30, 2013


I agree with your notion that advice ought to be considered on a level above the face of the question, but I'm not on board with excessive extrapolation. Sometimes it's appropriate to ask the questioner for a few more details. One thing: I am learning that, on the Green, it's wise to assume good faith.

Ah crap.

I didn't mean to give your comments a forced characterization, or to imply that you engage in excessive extrapolation. I'm sorry I hit the send button before I'd considered this paragraph more critically.
posted by mule98J at 10:02 AM on June 30, 2013


You do realize that questions on metafilter all go to the publicly searchable web?

This isn't a walled garden- everything we answer questions on becomes something that can be searched for. This is how metafilter makes some of its revenue -and how some of us, myself included, find the place, as a reliable repository on a wide range of subject matter.

So the only advantage the candidate has is if their interview happens in the time it takes for information to proliferate into a search engine's scope (that it has been crawled). And unless the job is targeted in a particular way, that still means that candidates in similar situations in future are all going to benefit equally.

Furthermore mefi is open to anyone with $5 and English literacy. Anyone who can make an account can ask a question. Claiming it's tribalism ignores the fact that many of us are participating in AskMe because they actively enjoy answering stranger's questions, Dear Abby style- the service askMe provides me is a hoard of people I can opine at with my expertise (as well as the delicious, delicious social stories is the human relations category).
posted by Phalene at 10:09 AM on June 30, 2013


Yeah, there are many times when we give people advice on how to get better access to some finite resource, where our doing so may result in some other person having to wait longer for that resource, or perhaps losing out on that resource entirely.

For example, we've had multiple questions on things like how a MeFite can get access to mental healthcare they can't afford. And we give them lists of resources and tips for getting an appointment sooner. That might mean that some other person won't be able to get an appointment, because time with free or low-cost counselors is a limited resource. Same with questions about how to hunt down a hard-to-find object and buy it; if I buy the last rare antique widget off rarewidgets.com, which I wouldn't have known about but for MeFi, some other guy who might have bought it doesn't get one.

That's just the way the world works; people get advice and learn about things lots of different ways, and in some situations, there are winners and losers.
posted by decathecting at 10:26 AM on June 30, 2013


Life isn't some kind of perfect zero-sum game. If MeFi was running around giving totally exploitative insider advice (e.g. "here are some steamy photos of the hiring manager with his mistress; use them to blackmail him into hiring you. Also make sure you mention the secret accounts in Nevis"), then I could understand where this concern is coming from. But that's not what the green does.

There are some more substantial ethical questions around SAT prep, private tutors for wealthy high-achiever high school students, unpaid internships as gatekeepers for certain professions, etc... Giving publicly accessible general job interview advice to strangers on the internet doesn't begin to approach that.
posted by zachlipton at 12:48 PM on June 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


If someone asks the way to Amarillo, and we all suggest routes, and the asker picks one of the suggested routes and gets into an accident and dies, did we kill them? Is it like MeFi on the Orient Express?
posted by tel3path at 12:57 PM on June 30, 2013


Also, it's a bizarre assumption that in go the correct inputs, out comes the job offer. Job interviewing is completely nondeterministic. Showing up and doing all the right things and being the most qualified candidate has some influence on whether or not you're hired, but not much.

True story: I once arrived for an interview an hour and a half late and screaming my head off, and I would have bet my overdraft to the power of ten that I would receive a restraining order instead of a job offer. I was wrong, they hired me. No, it is not at all typical of me to show up to interviews late and screaming my head off, nor do I recommend it, don't try this at home, kids.
But still. And more times than I can count, I have also showed up and given interviews that seemed stellar by almost any measure I could think of, and still not gotten hired.

Interviewees really have no control over whether they receive an offer or not. They can only do their best.
posted by tel3path at 1:18 PM on June 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


Really, this whole MeTa would be better aimed at Quora.
posted by klangklangston at 1:39 PM on June 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


Relevant: Google recently admitted that its (notoriously difficult and rigorous) hiring process barely performs better than simply pulling random people off of the street.

It's a refreshing breath of fresh air to all of us who have subtly suspected that the modern hiring process is 100% bullshit.
posted by schmod at 4:01 PM on June 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Just to circle back to this: When I was a teenager, I was trying to get teenager type jobs like retail and food service. And I never did. I never even got interviewed. Why?

Because my well-meaning but clueless family had never worked a retail or food service gig (or hadn't in literal decades), so the advice I got was exactly wrong. Like they told me that I should be honest and put down I didn't have my own transportation, but my mom could bring me to work. They told me to just drop off the application and, obviously, they'd call me pretty quick because I was stellar and awesome and wonderful and had good grades. They told me I should be careful with my availability because school was important and had to come first. They told me I shouldn't bug the manager about my application because they were very busy. Then they yelled at me because way dumber kids all had jobs and I didn't even get a callback.

I eventually got a retail gig several years later and spent all that time face-palming at the terrible advice I'd been given.

In a perfect world, like I said above, it'd be all about qualifications and making sure you're a good fit but, honestly, in my experience, job interviews are more-or-less about knowing the ritual and the correct things to say and I don't mind giving out ritual advice to people like myself who may be good people but just don't know the secret code of the job interview.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 4:22 PM on June 30, 2013 [11 favorites]


Whenever I interview for a new job, I refuse to answer the interviewer's questions, on the grounds that I give such good answers that its not fair to the other applicants, who might be more qualified than me. I never get the job, which proves that I made the right moral choice.
posted by The World Famous at 4:51 PM on June 30, 2013 [11 favorites]


Jessamyn: It should surprise no one that I did not interview for this MetaFilter job at all.

I think we can all agree that this is one employer where any AskMe question would be deleted immediately and would presumably pretty much remove any chance of the asker getting the job.
posted by ambrosen at 5:30 PM on June 30, 2013


I confess that a piece of my advice, when it was acted upon, advanced the Mefite and shut out the "more qualified applicant". Because she was not awarded the job,
she will never meet Jacob __________, the handsome, but slightly nebbish fellow in accounting; and trust me, they are so perfect for each other it's disgusting.
I gleefully admit, while not my main aim, sparing their office-mates the smarmy horror of their romance is a particularly delicious fillip.
Because they will never meet, they will never date, fall in love, marry, and subsequently never issue Jacob _________ jr., the would-be notorious mass murderer
whose violent spree would have hacked a bloody swath across six states and left 54 victims in his wake.

No need to thank me. This is just something I do, as a pastime.
I would request, though, that in the future, people apply a little critical thinking to this sort of question before it is asked.
posted by Pudhoho at 10:26 PM on June 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


My advice to you is not to think about your complicity in providing the market for rare earth minerals that has led to the deaths of millions in central Africa, or just your broader enmeshment in structures that produce global inequality. Worrying about the relative 'justice' of offering advice on an interview is pretty fucking insignificant in comparison.
posted by knapah at 5:36 AM on July 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Relevant: Google recently admitted that its (notoriously difficult and rigorous) hiring process barely performs better than simply pulling random people off of the street.

Hmm. So I fired up Wikipedia, and, "The Googleplex is located between Charleston Road, Amphitheatre Parkway, and Shoreline Boulevard in north Mountain View, California close to the Shoreline Park wetlands."

Maybe I should just move to Mountain View and walk down Charleston Rd, Amphitheatre Parkway and Shoreline Blvd until Google discovers my genius. If all the movies I've seen are any indication, based on its sheer randomness, this plan can not possibly fail!
posted by misha at 10:29 AM on July 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


/buys food truck and drives to Mountain View
posted by The World Famous at 10:55 AM on July 1, 2013


Maybe I should just move to Mountain View and walk down Charleston Rd, Amphitheatre Parkway and Shoreline Blvd until Google discovers my genius.

Well you can walk around the outside of the campus all day, but Google's security guards will chase you down on their crazy scooters if you try to come inside.
posted by zachlipton at 12:18 PM on July 1, 2013


My advice to you is not to think about your complicity in providing the market for rare earth minerals that has led to the deaths of millions in central Africa, or just your broader enmeshment in structures that produce global inequality. Worrying about the relative 'justice' of offering advice on an interview is pretty fucking insignificant in comparison.

I do indeed think about such things, and often bring them up here on Metafilter, usually in the context of the responsibility to save lives of people in poor countries when it is practical to do so. But talking about trivial questions like this one doesn't detract from those discussions and probably contributes to them, insofar as talking about any of this stuff helps us examine our ethical frameworks and the impact of what we do. I've been interested to see the difference in responses to my post here, particularly the split between the sort of Kantian/deontological people who see giving advice when offered to a community as a sort of inherently moral act regardless of consequences; and those (like me) who are consequentialists and who look to the outcome of that act to determine whether it is ultimately right or wrong.
posted by dontjumplarry at 7:09 PM on July 1, 2013


Since you really can't know the outcome of so many varied hiring processes it seems a little hard to reason from them in a way which would tell you whether it's right or wrong.
posted by Miko at 7:45 PM on July 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I don't get it either.
posted by rtha at 8:18 PM on July 1, 2013


As someone who often receives unsolicited interview advice, I don't think the receipt of it really gives anyone enough of an advantage to register. Or I'm doing it wrong. Which I've not ruled out.
posted by RainyJay at 8:35 PM on July 1, 2013


I was just reading some advice for improvement on the job in AskMe. How would this extend to that? Is it wrong for someone to get advice on how to do their existing job better, because by doing so they would gain an unfair advantage over people who do not consult with AskMe, and thus get access to more benefits like raises, the cubicle with the window, the interesting project, the professional development opportunities? Is it unethical to improve one's performance by taking advice here or elsewhere, because of the opportunities you will be taking away from someone else by using that advice to excel at your work?
posted by Miko at 6:03 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, to be fair, dontjumplarry seems to see it as being unethical for *him* to give the advice, not for someone to take advice they ask for.

I still don't know how dontjumplarry can parse "ethical" or "unethical" in a situation where he does not (and cannot) know either the variables or the outcome, if what determines the morality of giving advice is knowing the outcome. But he doesn't seem terribly interested in talking about what that's like for him, though he says he appreciated the discussion. So. Eh.
posted by rtha at 8:26 AM on July 2, 2013


Well, to be fair, dontjumplarry seems to see it as being unethical for *him* to give the advice, not for someone to take advice they ask for.

Indeed. And the conclusion is based on the express assumption that his advice is good enough that, if followed, it is likely to give a sub-par applicant an edge over people who are more qualified (aside from their interviewing skills). I'm not sure there's much of a basis for that assumption.
posted by The World Famous at 12:40 PM on July 2, 2013


Just thought I'd try to set your mind at rest.

I asked this question. I got an excellent piece of advice from MuffinMan. Genuinely helpful and useful and all of the great things about AskMe.

I thought the interview would be in a few weeks but it turned out to be yesterday. I got my email a couple of hours ago saying I didn't get it.

Because although the advice was great, I hate interviews, and I completely bloody forgot it. I mean, I did the interview and sure enough, they asked the question. And what I answered was: waffle waffle unexpected client bibble. And after it was over, I would say it was literally the second the door closed behind me that I realised "THEY ASKED THE QUESTION AND I FORGOT THE ASKME ANSWER!!" Gutted.
(I'm not bitter no really)

So the moral of this story is: don't feel bad about giving interview advice in case you crush the dreams of non- MeFites. For just because we are privileged enough to have access to great knowledge, it does not outweigh the fact that we can also be fucking imbeciles.
posted by billiebee at 11:49 AM on July 5, 2013


I thought the interview would be in a few weeks but it turned out to be yesterday. I got my email a couple of hours ago saying I didn't get it.

Bummer. One of those completely crushed me three weeks ago.

On the other hand I'm signing on at a different company today. Hang in there.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 1:33 PM on July 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


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