How To Mess Up An Interview

  • LOL, I am not sure which has been the more amusing read, the article or the posts.  I would agree with the not cursing crowd.  Some good points were made in the article but I wouldn't take it as an interview reference Bible and I don't think it was intended as such.

    As to the gay reference, the word with its original meaning has been around publically a lot longer than the sexual orientation.  It is generally a good idea to find out what a person meant before tearing them apart or being hurt by their comment.

  • I don't agree with that. I know plenty of intelligent people who curse, though it is usually not casual cursing when they do.

  • Used to be that it was OK (even encouraged in some circles) to become involved in casual cursing.  Why, back in the '70s it became a lifestyle choice for many.  People used to engage in casual cursing out in the parking lot at clubs and bars, and it was common to see even high-school kids cursing together in the backseat of cars at the local Drive-In movie.

    Later on, in the mid-'80s, it even became fashionable among Hollywood's most elite to hold parties where you would see people engaging in various degrees of casual cursing on crushed-velvet ottomans, and leopard-print beanbags strewn about the place.  People even cursed in crowded pools, for crissake...apparently oblivious to the non-cursors around them.

    In the early 90's, cursing in public was a common occurrence.  It was not unusual to see people casually cursing in parks, while tooling around on high-performance cars in suburban garages, and yes, even while navigating a cartload of groceries and toddlers through the narrow supermarket aisles.

    As is common with such movements, the ultra-right soon began to speak out against casual cursing (perhaps because it was something they had never learned to do very well themselves).  They began to blame many of society's ills on the very act of casual cursing.  Some even began to suggest that maybe cursing was something that should be confined as an activity in the privacy of one's own home, and by those most practiced and adept in its proper use - - the married couple.

    Soon casual cursing was blamed for poor performance on high-school equivalency and competency exams, and it gradually fell into disfavor among the general populace.

    Nowadays only the staunchest holdouts engage in casual cursing.  Indeed, it can be argued that it has become a social faux-pas to engage in unprotected, casual cursing.  Casual cursing, for better or worse, has once again become relegated to the backrooms and dingy bars from whence it originated.


    aka "Paul"
    Non est ei similis.

    Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves. ~ Albert Einstein

  • Cursing is a sure sign of NON-Intelligence. Intelligent people do not curse. They are smart enough to express themselves with proper grammar.

    I disagree with this statement. Cursing is a way of expressing emotion, rather than ideas et al. I consider myself to be an intelligent person with a decent vocabulary, but it does not stop me from swearing (admittedly a little too often on occasion).

    However, there is a time & place for everything. I don't think swearing should be done in an interview (or in front of the customer for that matter). Possible exceptions are if you know the person(s) interviewing you, (relatively common occurrence here in NZ, such a small market), so you already have an idea what is acceptable. Even then, keep it to no worse than a "damn" or a "bugger".

    As for the religion bit, I'm an atheist but if people want to bless me, that's their call. Having that sort of thing happen constantly would get a bit trying, but part of living in a multi-cultural/religious society is having tolerance. Too many things get blown out of all proportion because people can't just learn to gloss over little things like that or handle them like adults.

    My 2c.

    Scott Duncan

    MARCUS. Why dost thou laugh? It fits not with this hour.
    TITUS. Why, I have not another tear to shed;
    --Titus Andronicus, William Shakespeare

  • i happen to agree with the author on all three of his points. of course, nobody is crying about the "practice answering questions" section so i won't bother with it.

    it is inappropriate and unprofessional to bring religion into the workplace. face it, no matter what percentage of the population worships the same deity as you, there are still others who don't, and don't want to hear about it. yes, it is "crap" to some of us, especially after spending this much time in a country where the religious right has been trying, and sometimes succeeding, on pressing their morals and values on everyone who lives here. even a simple "God Bless You" presumes that the person you are speaking to shares your beliefs, and it may make them uncomfortable. imagine if every time you had a clever idea to increase profits at the company your coworker told you that Satan values your imagination (and yes, he does! )...

    my previous job was at a company owned and operated by a family who are Jehova's Witnesses, the archetypal "people who annoy you by bugging you about their religion". they left work early twice a week to go door-knocking, the whole bit. guess what? not once in the year and a half i worked there did any of them say anything to me about their religious beliefs. i actually asked one of them about this, and was told that it wasn't appropriate because witnessing at work would be a detriment to the company and it's atmosphere (but i was more than welcome to discuss it with him off-hours). THAT is professionalism IMHO.

    as for the cursing bit, why is everyone getting so worked up about this? the author stated up front that he has used both approaches ("always take the high road" and "follow the leader"); as others have pointed out, his meaning is to assess the situation and do what seems best. he even explained why he generally advised not to always "take the high road": if your manager and coworkers curse casually, and you are not comfortable with it (or if the converse is true), that job probably won't lead you to fitting in and working in happiness.

    i also find it hilarious that people who espouse their religion with ferver, and those that condemn the author for suggesting a potty mouth might land them a job (these are not necessarily the same people) have forgotten to turn the other cheek (because they were too busy judging others) while swearing and calling names.

    thank you, Sean McCown. it was a good article which was unfortunately overshadowed by the flamewar it induced. hopefully won't be bullied by the facists and you can continue the series.

    a side note: why do people always say that cursing shows lack of intelligence? i have yet to see a scientific study even suggesting this, much less proving it. the fact is, english is an intricate and colorful language, and disregarding any of the words we have in the name of some alleged "higher intelligence level" is moronic at best. i could agree that the inability to refrain from swearing when it is not appropriate shows a lack of refinement or class, but nobody ever claims THAT because they want to jump right to the ad hominem (which is a definite sign of lack of intelligence, unless employed by a cunning linguist who is just toying with the victim of satire).

    -- Stephen Cook

  • Well, I agree that a person should be ready for the interview, I agree that it is best not to curse in the interview, and I agree that God Bless You is not a good choice.

    What I take away is this,

    1. Get prepared, get real prepared.

    2. Keep your language clean, and professional.

    3. Be appreciative for the interview and thank the interviewers.

    4. And when there is little else to say, then say good bye, you are done.

    That said, Good Bye!  <till next time>

    Not all gray hairs are Dinosaurs!

  • Cheers Sean - enjoyed the piece for what it was.  Look forward to the next one.  Can't believe just how seriously some people are taking this . . . .



  • I look at interviewing similar to a first date.

    • I wear my best suit,
    • speak with clarity,
    • look the interviewer in the eye,
    • repeat back their name,
    • etc -

    all the things I might or might not do in a regular day of work. There is little point in discussing personal issues of any sort, and will always bring any questions back around to the topic at hand. I prefer to keep the entire process efficient, professional, and complete on the issues.

    Understanding that since I am interviewing for a position that I expect to get paid for, part of the analysis will be on return on investment (that is value for time spent) - I look to return as much as possible in as little time as possible. As soon as you have opened the door of cursing, religion, politics, etc you can never close it and it may very well cost you a good position.

    Religious banter, cursing, talk about sports, politics, weather, etc are conversations I have with my friends, not with an interviewer or a potential boss. In fact, I declined an offer with a company because I thought the owner's language was vulgar and would have been ambarrassed to be with him on a sales call if he used the same language.

    As a consultant this has worked well for me, I have increased my salary, position, and reputation every year. I don't want to be known for anything other than my excellent performance in the workplace. My personal life is another matter.

  • By bringing up the subject of religion himself, the author has demonstrated the effect it can have, and the controversy it can spark, by just saying not to mention it.

    Irony at its absolute best, and perhaps a stroke of genius.

  • Well observed Paul

  • welllll, considering the prevalence of grammatical errors in the article, I'm pretty sure it wasn't genius.   A "happy accident" perhaps.


  • Genius seldom troubles itself with grammatical concerns.

    Grammatical and spelling corrections are within the realm of proofreaders.

    Would you have the kind author put a poor proofreader out of work? 

    aka "Paul"
    Non est ei similis.

    Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves. ~ Albert Einstein

  • Regarding Steve's "The Great Uproar" piece today, I have to say I hold the Featured Article to a much higher professional standard than the content of the forums.  Mr. McCown's "article" might have been better labeled a "Guest Opinion".

    An editor is responsible for editing the content of his publication to fullfill his vision.  If Steve's vision for SSC is to create a professional publication with broad appeal to a technical audience, this article failed dramatically to deliver on that vision. 

    If Mr. McCown writes an article in the future that fulfills my needs, I'd like to read it.  I place my trust in Steve to edit or reject the article--again using his vision as his guide.  An author is reponsible for knowing his target audience.  Mr. McCown clearly didn't consider the size and diversity of his audience and needed guidance from his editor.

    As a consumer of technical periodicals, I make my choice at the publication level, not the article/author.  This article was unprofessional on so many fronts, and--given its location within the publication--it reflects poorly on SSC. 

    Apology accepted, Steve.

    - Jeff -

  • A refreshing break from the insipid sterility of run-of-the-mill "professional" articles. Its nice you see someone expressing themself for a change - a few useful tips to boot.

  • This article was excellent - but only if you actually bothered to read it intelligently!

    To quote renrob's reply:

    "I'm certain Sean wasn't trying to be offensive, however it is obvious that more than a few voters, um, I mean tech people were offended. With the SSC forum being a microcosm of the "real" world, this serves as a great example of Sean's paraphrased advise: "know your interviewer" before you open your mouth."

    The problem is that, as far as publication for a wide audience is concerned, you have three choices:

    1) Spew off a stream of moronic, blandly inoffensive platitudes which are useless and devoid of content but unlikely to alienate anyone.  This is the route typically taken by successful political candidates.

    2) Say what you believe (assuming that your intent is actually to offer useful advice, as I believe was the intent of this article), and hope that your readers are intelligent and open-minded enough to accept your opinions in the manner in which you put them forward, rather than insisting on twisting what you wrote to fit their own private agenda.  At the same time, realise that some people are going to be offended.

    3) Say nothing.

    Options 1) and 3) are never going to help anyone.  So the only real option for offering constructive advice is to go with option 2) and grow a thick enough skin to handle the knee-jerk reactionary criticism you're bound to receive from skim-readers looking for something to get upset about.



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