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Dealing with job interviews

Hypnalis

Well-Known Member
This kind of thing is an unfortunate feature of many business processes.

Recruiting qualified staff is quite time-consuming - directly expensive, but there's also a significant opportunity cost if experienced staff are taken away from their duties to talk to what can feel like an infinite number of unsuitable candidates.

And of course there really are a lot of unsuitable candidates, and the "everybody games the system" principle (i.e. a lot of people lie in their resumes) means it's quite hard to filter useless ones out early.

That means it often makes sense to hand off the early stages to specialists. The idea is to use an efficient organization to select good candidates, and filter out bad ones.

But of course the recruiting companies want to make fat profits too, so they do the usual bureaucratic thing: implement barely useful processes (e.g. computerized analysis of resumes are currently popular, but they're trivially "gameable"), lying about the true industry experience of both their "grunts" and their specialists, and (especially relevant for this thread) inserting steps that sound great to the "pointy-headed managers" in the companies they work for, but are in fact useless.

(BTW the cause of this kind of thing is much the same everywhere, but it's an intractable topic to discuss. FWIW it's s much the same as MBAs squeezing companies so hard for more yield that they go broke from not paying attention to the big picture).

In order to navigate this labyrinth of inefficiency and corruption, it's absolutely necessary to game the system yourself.
... which, amusingly, makes the recruiting process less efficient, with numerous weird and paradoxical effects that are outside the scope of this discussion /lol. But this is how NT's handle moderate levels of complexity - it's never rational, but it can be analyzed :)

I'm not sure there's any point in my explaining the details. This is an ocean I've swum in for a long time, so the process is easy for me - but I have a lot of experience in a narrow but still relevant area, and I work for a small company that does all the annoying parts of this for me.

As a starting point: I strongly recommend doing some research. There seems to be information online. And you can always make a few trial runs (applications you don't expect to be successful. At worst you'll have to turn down a job :)
And create the factual core of a resume. This is a PITA the first time, but you'll reuse it over and over, so the sooner you have a basic one ready the better.
 

GypsyMoth

Active Member
I'm currently job hunting. I've been working with a recruiter who knows me personally, for which I'm really thankful. She's pretty honest that she probably won't be able to place me (wrong industry), but she's given me some great tips and advice.

One thing that seems uber-relative to the OP is my friend the recruiter's emphasis on how HR managers are looking for a company culture fit. Most of the posts here have relied on technical ability or past accomplishments to land a job. She would say that's less important to a hiring manager than the potential chemistry of a new hire. What they want to know is, are you a good social fit?

Well. Umm. Let me just say she can't get my last job to respond to her inquiries. (I was not a good social fit.) But I am well-liked where I've volunteered for the past four years and all of my professors are willing to give references, so I at least have some people who are willing to vouch for my ability and character.

Also, because of her coaching on what the hiring manager is looking for regarding good social fit, following one of the interviews I have had, I turned the position down. I decided we would not be a good fit. It was really nice having someone to talk with about how the interview went and to hear her feedback as to what she thought was happening in the interview. She helped confirm for me my suspicions that the interviewer was not engaged in the interview and made the further suggestion that the woman was possibly intimidated by my qualifications.

One thing that has really helped has been role-playing. She asks me interview questions, I answer. She cuts me short, explains what I'm doing wrong, and we start over. My biggest take-away was that a brief answer should only be 1-2 sentences in length. I just don't think like that. But knowing that's what's expected, the next time I go in for an interview, I'm going to ask my husband to sit down and role-play some standard interview questions with me.

I hope this helps! I realize the OP is months old, but maybe this will help some other person, too.
 

Aspea

Active Member
GypsyMoth,

Even though the OP is older, I think all this info is really helpful. I know it's helping me! I'm sure it will help others who come along looking for career / interviewing / job advice too.

The point about a good social fit is quite interesting. Is there a way to tell, before submitting a resume or application, whether you may or may not be a good social fit in a company?
 

Hypnalis

Well-Known Member
@GypsyMoth @Aspea

I'm not convinced it makes sense for an Aspie to attempt to satisfy an HR specialist's wish to achieve a "Social Fit".
As a group, being a social fit to any group of NTs is somewhat aspirational ... so what would we expect from a fully and honestly informed HR specialist?
And there's also the general HR problem: at least recruiters get paid if they successfully place somebody :)

IMO anyone can be better at interviews, and everyone should prepare for talking to recruiters and HR. But I believe that most Aspies should view and handle them as troublesome gatekeepers. And with HR, that probably means being economical with the truth.
Unfortunately the more effective "flexible with the truth" is hard for an Aspie to pull off. It worked well for the kind of people I used to work with though - for sales people, truth is what works.

GypsyMoth - it might be interesting for your friend to look at this thread.
 
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Aspea

Active Member
Hypnalis,

But if the "social fit" requirement is not met, and you make it past the gatekeepers and get hired, doesn't it spell trouble for your future in the company? Wouldn't the poor social fit mean poor performance reviews and eventual separation from the company?
 

Hypnalis

Well-Known Member
@Aspea

That stuff is mostly an NT game.

A company small enough to have a group of very similar people doesn't have a real HR department. But in that case, what do you gain by lying about your Aspie nature? Just learn to put a positive spin on it.

A larger company with an actual HR department is just fooling themselves if they think that can get a socially consistent group.
IIRC I made a comment earlier about recruiters wildly over-estimating their technical competence. They do this to sell a dream to the "pointy-headed managers" of their customer companies (i.e. that they're recruiting for).

HR is much the same. They can't control the social environment in a medium-sized company, but they want to sell the idea that they can to their own pointy-headed managers. And remember - they are the ones who hand off what should be their work onto recruiters, because they tend to have zero technical competence. In comparison the average specialist recruiter is a technical genius.

(This is normal in a bureaucracy of course - all the admin staff spend half their effort laying of the difficult parts of their job to outsiders, and talking up the easy bit they keep /lol.)

HR are presumably useful for hiring mid+ level management, but if you're there career-wise, you wouldn't be in this thread :)

Anyway, take a look at my earlier posts regarding the "beauty contest".
For a technical position, my instincts are to be open about being an Aspie, but (as I said above) learn to put a good spin on it. Just for clarity, that implies preparing your "social positioning" pitch as well as you do your technical pitch.

I think GypsyMoth is a believer in handling the beauty contest a bit differently - specifically, not opening with being an Aspie, and filtering out pointless interviews differently to me.
For some people, almost certainly including GypsyMoth and perhaps you, that will be a better path - but not, I think, for the OP.

And just for clarity - "Aspie" wasn't even a thing when I got my first serious jobs (junior Economist in a bank; my first IT Technical Sales jobs). So I've faked my way through a few beauty contests :)
If you know you can do it, go ahead. I'll even give you a few tips on lying to HR if you like, but remember you can't learn how to BS "talk-bureaucrats" from an internet stranger. If you haven't had any practice, don't start with professional liars (which includes HR, but not technical recruiters - they're professional optimists).

BTW - HR do not work for a company's employees. They work solely for executive management. HR are the ones who backstab staff to avoid lawsuits, teach managers how to limit pay increases (they are significant players in the "continuous squeeze" of pay and benefits), handle firing and layoffs (including colluding in create fake but legally valid reasons for firing people) etc.

Do not, under any circumstances, trust HR. Keep a smile on your face, watch their words and yours, and look out for the dagger they have ready at all times to slip into your back.
 

GypsyMoth

Active Member
GypsyMoth,

Even though the OP is older, I think all this info is really helpful. I know it's helping me! I'm sure it will help others who come along looking for career / interviewing / job advice too.

The point about a good social fit is quite interesting. Is there a way to tell, before submitting a resume or application, whether you may or may not be a good social fit in a company?
Hi @Aspea , sorry, can't help you there. The job I had applied for, I thought it was going to be a perfect fit. It matched both my newly acquired academic background and the skillset from my former career field. Regarding company philosophy, I thought we had a ton in common. I spent weeks researching the company (not, um, every day, all day, but enough), compiled and studied their SEC and annual reports, and learned about events in the news and laws that pertained to their industry. I mean, I went in prepared. You know the comment I got? "Well, at least we know you know how to do your research." Geesh! (The entire interview went like that.)

My big take-away from this has been to not wear my heart on my shirt sleeve. Which hasn't lasted very long. I'm waiting for hubby to pre-read my last statement for a position I'm about to hit send on and I'm just about not able to sit still. (He's really good at catching things: typos, tone, etc.) I really want the job! (Will I be a good social fit? Who knows! My friend seemed to place that problem in the mind of the interviewer. But we do reserve the right to turn down a job, too, especially if the interviewer is being snarky.) But good luck to you. The best thing might just to be rely on your credentials -- yeah, yeah, I know, that's what preceded my post -- and see how it goes.
 

GypsyMoth

Active Member
I'm not convinced it makes sense for an Aspie to attempt to satisfy an HR specialist's wish to achieve a "Social Fit".
As a group, being a social fit to any group of NTs is somewhat aspirational ... so what would we expect from a fully and honestly informed HR specialist?
And there's also the general HR problem: at least recruiters get paid if they successfully place somebody :)
The only 'person' HR is concerned about representing is the corporate 'person' they were hired to protect--the company they work for. My personal opinion from experience is that the HR idea of 'social fit' is to find the right candidate who will fit in with the established corporate culture. I have been taking the 'less said is more' tactic in interviewing. The less said the more the focus is on the abilities. My recruiter friend, however, does see it somewhat differently.
IMO anyone can be better at interviews, and everyone should prepare for talking to recruiters and HR. But I believe that most Aspies should view and handle them as troublesome gatekeepers. And with HR, that probably means being economical with the truth.
Unfortunately the more effective "flexible with the truth" is hard for an Aspie to pull off. It worked well for the kind of people I used to work with though - for sales people, truth is what works.
I agree with you, @Hypnalis. Less-is-more is a good approach. Besides, less means just that--less. No bending or twisting, just "mum!" And you're right about salespeople. I think they make up 'truth' as they go along. (No offense to any salespeople out there, there are a lot of fine salespeople who don't. But I think they're the minority.)
GypsyMoth - it might be interesting for your friend to look at this thread.
Oh, it would be interesting, all right! But not for the well-intended reasons I think you have in mind. Even if she were to do so, it wouldn't make a difference. She'd sympathize but most likely respond that she doesn't make up the rules.
 

GypsyMoth

Active Member
...
Anyway, take a look at my earlier posts regarding the "beauty contest".
For a technical position, my instincts are to be open about being an Aspie, but (as I said above) learn to put a good spin on it. Just for clarity, that implies preparing your "social positioning" pitch as well as you do your technical pitch.

I think GypsyMoth is a believer in handling the beauty contest a bit differently - specifically, not opening with being an Aspie, and filtering out pointless interviews differently to me.
For some people, almost certainly including GypsyMoth and perhaps you, that will be a better path - but not, I think, for the OP.
It sure is a beauty contest, isn't it? Actually, GypsyMoth is determined not to spend another ten years being bullied, ridiculed, yelled at, thrown under the bus, pushed to the sidelines and summarily dismissed at every poor excuse management finds. (Sounds bitter? Trying very hard not to be. See my reply on what to do about bullies.) It felt really good to be able to reject a job interview for something I was very well qualified for when the interviewer--who would have been reporting to me--kept up her snarky tone throughout the interview. There's no shame in calling in someone more skilled than myself to consult with about the experience. My recruiter friend gave me a lot of valuable suggestions in which I found much wisdom. (She has only a vague idea of the abuses I endured at my last position but knows enough to know why I'm being more selective. And since she won't be placing me, she's strictly doing this as a friend--for which I am extremely appreciative.)

I'm glad you feel open about revealing being an Aspie in an interview. You have every right to -- and should. You may even have more on-the-job legal protection because of it. Me? I only stumbled onto the prospect that I might be somewhere on the spectrum two weeks ago. It's not really something that I want to take ownership of, and it certainly is not something I can talk about freely. (Except to my aunt, who thinks it's funny -- I think -- that I'm not quite seeing it to the degree she's seeing it.) And every time I keep taking those stupd tests to prove that it's a mistake, the retakes land me higher up the spectrum. (I thought, just take it when you get up, when you have a fresher perspective, so I did--at 4:30 this morning. The results? Not cool.) I've recently learned that I mask waaay better (or, more than? Not sure which is the right word here) than the average Aspie. Make of it what you will -- I haven't figured it out yet -- but it may give you some insight into why I am so keen on filtering interviews.

...
BTW - HR do not work for a company's employees. They work solely for executive management. HR are the ones who backstab staff to avoid lawsuits, teach managers how to limit pay increases (they are significant players in the "continuous squeeze" of pay and benefits), handle firing and layoffs (including colluding in create fake but legally valid reasons for firing people) etc.
Now there's a man who has seen the light... (Yes, sarcasm--but good sarcasm. A lot of people don't 'get' this about HR.)
Do not, under any circumstances, trust HR. Keep a smile on your face, watch their words and yours, and look out for the dagger they have ready at all times to slip into your back.
Like in Galaxy Quest, "mum's" the word. Say nothing to HR, say nothing to nobody. Unfortunately, as I found out, saying nothing gets you into trouble the same as saying something since then the bully gets it in his or her mind that you are thinking things you would never even think of to think! (In my last few years there I began taking a different tactic and started saying a lot--no difference in treatment.) Guilt by association, all within the bully's mind. Yes, avoid HR. But if you can't, be all smiles, put on your best self, and let them do the talking.
 

Aspea

Active Member
Regarding being wary of HR and their methods, it's a cynical view but I tend to concur. I've always had to be guarded because I also have been backstabbed several times. And after reading the comments about HR in this thread, it seems to me to be a bad idea to disclose a diagnosis of ASD to HR.
 

Judge

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
If anything were along the line of "the bane of my existence" it would have been job interviews.

Luckily I'm retired now...and don't have to deal with them at all. Good riddance. :cool:
 

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