How To Mess Up An Interview

  • LMFAO...

    ...and yes, for those uninitiated in the finer subtleties of online cursing, that stands for "Laugh My F*cking A$$ Off"...



  • Beat me to it!

    Genius does not imply knowledge of grammar.  Besides, who's to know it wasn't grammatically perfect when submitted and subsequently doctored by the editor?

    The genius was a possibility; the irony, however, is certain.

  • Ok, done reading the forum, time for a serious reply:

    Firstly, thanks to Steve and the SSC team for publishing this to start with, and for highlighting it in the "One Year Ago" section today, so that it came to my attention.  And, of course, thanks to Sean for the time and effort he took to write it.

    Because it's a well-written, engaging, intelligent and funny article which offers some interesting and seldom-given advice on interview technique.  Just read it and you'll see.  That's right - read it, don't just skim it.

    The practice thing is brilliant.  His points are spot-on: there's a huge difference between knowing the answer and actually being comfortable rattling it off your tongue, and that comes with spoken practice.

    Anf the other two points, religion and language, kind of boil down to the same thing, if you actually understand his POV.  It's about professionalism and being yourself at the same time - a tricky balance, but vital to a happy work environment.  The professionalism means that you are there to work, not to proselytise.  As a Christian, I still don't wan't my colleagues doing stuff like printing "May the Grace of God follow you all your days" on the footer of any company material, unless it is a specifically Christian company.  It's just not appropriate.  Your personal mission is your own business, but you need to realise that when you are doing something for the comapany, you have a responsibility to put the company's interests first - your personal agenda should never even onter into it.

    And please note that Sean wasn't calling religion or anyone's specific religious beliefs "crap" - he used that perjorative to refer specifically to inappropriate usage of religious jargon in a professional environment.  And he's absolutely right - leave that crap out of the workplace.  Your beliefs, salvation, and faith in God will be with you wherever you go, anyway...

    As far as the cursing goes - it's really not a language or politeness issue, it's about being yourself.  Too often (and as a veteran interwiewer, I'm sure Sean has seen this plenty of times) a candidate is so eager to get a job that he is happy to present himself as whatever he believes the company is looking for.  While this may get you the job, presenting yourself as something other than your true self can only last so long, and it will ultimately involve you being very unhapy with a work environment and team with which you are not actually a natural fit.  If you are completely uncomfortable with swearing, that's cool, but understand that some people use it regularly as a form of expression, and in either case, you need to find a work environment which suits you. 

    Remember that it's not just the company checking you out, it's also you checking the company out, and seeing if you really want to be a part of their team.  I've worked in completely puritanically clean-mouthed offices, and I've worked in shops where every second word was unprintable and conversations routinely involved a stream of invectives about bestiality and coprophagia.  Obviously those are extremes, but the point is that you need to be comfortable with the other team members if you're going to work with them.  Give-and-take and tolerance and being sensitive are all cool, but there's a limit to how much people can go adapt their behaviour against their natural inclinations. 

    Likewise, if the interviewer curses and you take offense, it's an excellent indication to you that you should probably look elsewhere, and I think Sean would agree with that.  There's no point pretending that you're comfortable with something in an interview if it's going to make your skin crawl on a daily basis in the workplace if you actually get the job.

    In that light, if you are serious about wanting to work in a place where you can sing the Lord's praises explicitly in every aspect of your job, you actually probably should mention that a few times in the interview, or you run the same risk as someone who doesn't check out the attitude towards colourful language carefully enough...

    And as Sean pointed out - don't apologise.  Say what you mean.  If you want to explain that the documentation was reall sh*t, say exactly that.  (And yes, I realise the irony in the fact that I'm not writing it in full, but that's because I don't have complete control over who reads this.  Were I speaking in an environment where I deemed it appropriate, I would be necessarily explicit, though not gratuitously so).

    That's enough from me.  Thanks for the great article, Sean, and I hope to read plenty more from you in the future.




    PS - One final note on the use humour in the article:  If you make something funny, you're going to offend.  Guaranteed.  But the value of incuding humour in your post is that people will actually read all the way through the damn thing, rather than glossing over it, and you have half a chance of actually getting your message across (assuming you have one).

    To wit - politicians are not funny, stand-up comedians are offensive.



  • Well said, Clinton!

  • Right on, Sean!  Finally somebody who gets it...  and isn't afraid to tell it (and possibly offend folks in the process)!

    I work in an environment where everybody curses like a bunch of sailors, and I can honestly say I prefer this environment over the stuff-shirt (mainly religious-right staff dominated) team of DBAs I was on at my former job.  After deciding to leave that place, then going to a couple of interviews at companies with people just like the environment I was at...  then coming in here, sitting down in the interview and feeling so relaxed as I had more of a conversation than an interview with a couple of guys who recited every swear word in the book while describing what it would be like to work here...  SOLD!

  • " I'd just found him in my living room floor in his undies with my dog and a jar of peanut butter."

    Just what response is the author expecting here. This "humor" was not used as an example; these are the author's own words. I was floored this went unnoticed the first time when I commented.

    I agree the appropriate use of humor can lend readability to a piece, but this is so far from professional I'm amazed it was "reprinted". I read many publications and have NEVER read anything like this. It almost caused me to leave when it was printed the first time. This time it will. I will find a more professional site, with more professional authors.

    Good luck to you.

    - Jeff -

  • Thanks for the waste of time -

    If you want serious tips on interviewing, visit MSN homepage instead.

  • If you want to impress at an interview, be professional, likeable, and competent.  And most of all, rely on your experience and not the juvenile advice given by the author of this article.

  • Steve,

    I can't believe you featured this article again, what were you thinking? 


    Aunt Kathi Data Platform MVP
    Author of Expert T-SQL Window Functions
    Simple-Talk Editor

  • This article doesn't make any sense. professionalism still exists & still company out there is looking for experienced & professional IT canidate. people likes sober & mannered person in there organization who he/she talks with respect & humble tone. if the person is decipline, mannered & good by heart he/she can win the world.

  • What an entertaining article! Your ideas on what to do and not do sound like some questions I have had in interviews. They are so absurd and strange, they can have no other purpose than to test how we will respond to them.

    As I read this, I want you to know that I did not react; I just sat there quietly and continued to look you in the eyes and afirm you as you were saying these things and not let on that I really wanted to run out of the room and find a job anywhere else.

    Or, were you serious?

    If the interviewer makes some sexual comment to me then I should do the same so I will fit in with the team? Please.

  • Last year when this came out I commented about what I took away from the discussion and the article. I have not interviewed since then and I do not know if I would take any or all of the advice given. Except for one thing

    If you want to be a success in the interview tell the truth, the truth about you, your work, your work habits, and your expectations. Lay it all out there.


    If you really tell it like it is and are hired you will be convinced that they want the real you. If you cuss then cuss, if you God Bless then God Bless. We do not need sailors who hate faith-based people and organizations working with priests not missionaries who are attempting to convert everyone working with those who would rather kill then be converted. 


    You do not want a job where they do not want you nor what you have, and the person who is interviewing does not want to waste the companies time on someone who might last a week or three.


    Good article or not it makes you think and that my friends is valuable, very valuable.

    Enough said. Later...

    Not all gray hairs are Dinosaurs!

  • I wouldn't curse in an interview

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