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The Cody Blog: Interviewing Yourself, or Dreaming of Interviewing Others

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Interviewing Yourself, or Dreaming of Interviewing Others

I got home last night at midnight, after having played tennis at 6:30am, worked 11 hours, met with a friend from Rolling Stone mag for beers, and then had dinner with some marketing execs and some finance people. I was beat and I crashed into bed and went blacked out for several hours. I woke up this morning at 4:30am, dreaming of sitting in a crowded swimming pool where I was interviewing a bunch of random people.

My first boss on Wall Street was a 73 year old Hungarian. When he came in to interview me he sat down and looked at me and said, "Okay, Co-dee. I hov on-lee two questions. Ze first vwon ees very simple: Vwot are your zree best qualities?"

I answered: "I'm smart. I work hard. I strive to be objective."

He says, "Okay. Fine. Zis question ees much more dee-ficult to answer: Vwot are your zree worst qualities?"

To this day I think about that question in my life. If I work to address what I think are my three worst qualities, I'll constantly improve myself.

My answer at the time was: "I have a temper. No matter how hard I try I still care what other people think of me. I'm terribly homesick and I'm scared that I won't make it in NYC."

As readers already know, he hired me on the spot. Eventually, I came to really understand why he only had to ask me two questions. 15 months after he'd hired me, I was his first ever partner, and I'd conduct those interviews for him. Maybe only 1 in 10 people can answer that second question with three real negatives. Most people love to do this whole, ,"Well, I work so hard and focus on things so much that I sometimes miss the big picture." The point of the question is certainly not to see if a person can make a positive a negative. The point is to see if the person can be self-analytical and reflective.

As yet a another aside (I do overuse the "asides", but all well -- It's my blog.), I think the reason I often dream about interviews is because on September 11, 2001, after making it up to a friend's apartment on the Upper West side and realizing that the US wasn't at war (yet), I'd gone to the Red Cross to donate blood.

They were turning people away at that point because there were so many of us there. But as we walked off, I heard someone asking people if they had any experience interviewing candidates for whatever job. I told them I did, and so they took me into a giant room.

I was handed a stack of about 50 applications from people who were volunteering to be counselors. I spent a half hour or so reading through the applications when, for the fourth time, a certified Red Cross counselor came by and stressed how important it was for me to do a good job screening because "anybody down there near ground zero is really going to need help".

It finally dawned on me --- holy shit, I'm one of those people.

I told the dude that, and he was like, "Go to a friend's house. Get out of the city. Go rest and take care of yourself." So I did.

But I know to this day that I've got some craziness in my head around that day and all that I did and saw. And so I dream about 9/11 stuff probably too much. This dream from last night about interviewing people in a swimming pool -- I'll take it, as it's a hell of a lot better than some of the bad ones that creep in some nights.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know if it alerts you when you have a post, but I really like this post. I am surprised no one has commented. I appreciate your honesty and the connections you make with your unique writing. I am sure your mother's style has influenced yours, or maybe just her love for language.

sending you a hug and the sound of relaxation when you embrace someone (that's the part of the hug that's great)


3/22/2006 09:32:00 PM  

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