I may have had an interesting experience or two in my two years-plus of being unemployed, but at least I’ve never been mocked during an interview, even on those when I knew in minutes that I had no chance of landing the job. I suppose I should be thankful that I never interviewed with Google.
In my travels around the Web this morning, I found the story of Alyson Shontell on Silicon Alley Insider. Shontell, a recent grad of Syracuse University, had quite the unpleasant experience during her phone interviews with the search-engine giant.
I wholeheartedly recommend clicking on the link and reading the entire story, but this was the part that struck me the most.
She was asked to estimate how much money Google makes every day from Gmail adds. This would seem like a reasonable question, except that she was asked to guess without a single bit of data. I realize employers want people who can think quickly, but they might as well have asked her how many Doritos were in a bag in someone’s apartment in Weehawken. How the hell was she supposed to answer this? If it were something she was given time to research, that would make sense, but the way the question was posed, I don’t see any result except embarrassment.
Speaking of embarrassment, here’s how her second and final phone interview ended, in her words:
“Estimate the number of students who are college seniors, attend four-year schools, and graduate with a job in the United States every year.” This time I remained poised.
“There are about 300 million people in the nation” I began. “Let’s say 10 million of those are college students at four-year schools. Only one-quarter of those 10 million are seniors, so that would be roughly 2-3 million. If half of those students graduate with jobs, you’re looking at about 1.5 million kids.”
“Would you say that number seems high, low, or just about right?”
“I would say it sounds low, but maybe that’s because I’m going through the job-search process and I’m wishing the number was higher.”
I didn’t even get a sympathetic laugh. “That’s all. Good luck with your job search.” The phone clicked — I was stunned. The abrupt sign-off was a clear indication that I wouldn’t be considered for round two. Interviewing can be demoralizing, and that’s just how I felt as I sat with my cell in my hand, vowing to switch to Yahoo for life.
As I’ve mentioned many times in this blog, I know companies looking to hire can pick and choose and wait for the ideal candidate, with so much competition out there, but is it really necessary to belittle applicants who don’t make the cut?