Quick caveat: I wasn’t sure whether this should go in the Pit or if it belongs in MPSIMS. I didn’t really consider it a pitting since these stories occurred months ago and while it was slightly aggravating at the time, I now find it more amusing than anything else. Anyway, in honor of having my local “association” completing all of our interviews for the year, I thought I’d submit a few anecdotes from some of the more… interesting candidates, in the hopes that Dopers could use the information if they are ever in a similar situation. (But, if you actually need these “helpful hints”, may Og have mercy on your soul…)
One of the perks about being an alumnus of my university is that we have the option to interview high school seniors who have applied, with the “interview season” usually lasting from December to February. The alumni associations are divided by county, and since I live in one county and work in another, I am a member of both. It just so happened that one year, the county where I work was in dire need of interviewers (and they needed the interviews to be completed as soon as possible), and so I volunteered. However, because I like to handle these interviews over the weekend, I try to have them come to a Starbucks location near where I live, resulting in kids having to drive 30 minutes or so for the interview.
When assigned applicants, we typically get their contact information - e-mail address, phone number, home address, etc. I use my “professional” e-mail -
FirstNameMiddleInitialLastName@gmail.com - to reach these kids. In my introductory e-mail, I let them know a few basic things about me and how I handle the process: I’m less than ten years older than they are, I try to make the interview as informal and “friendly” as possible, etc. I tell them that I will be wearing jeans and a t-shirt and invite them to do the same, but if they want to dress business casual, that’s understandable. If I don’t receive a reply to that e-mail within a few days, I then call them. And that brings me to the first applicant…
I talked to one kid on the phone this past weekend, and it was obvious (both from his name and his accent) that he was from Africa. Before I got a hold of him, I spoke with his younger sister. I don’t know how many Dopers have had the unfettered joy of having their call answered by a small child and then the immense pleasure of trying to convince the child to hand the phone to an adult. Now, multiply that euphoria by the fact that the child has no idea who you are, they have a grasp on the English language that is tenuous at best, and their accent is thicker than dense brush.
She finally puts her brother on the phone, and I introduce myself. We have a few difficulties in our conversation, but we finally establish that, when he knows days and times available for our interview to occur, he will e-mail me and we will conduct all our future correspondence through that. I figure he might have problems with my e-mail address, since the last letter of my first name is the same as my middle initial. After spelling out my e-mail (with the two "W"s, back-to-back, and going to great lengths about that matter), I hang up. Days go by, no e-mail from him. I get a call back, 5 days later. (Side note: Every phone conversation consisted of “Hello?” “Mr. LastName?” “Yes?” “This is Joe Applicant.” “Oh, hi Joe!” 20 second pause before he says anything else.) He says that he got my e-mail wrong, and so I spell it for him again. Guess what the mistake was…
Before I continue, I must add that my last name is very “simple.” Composed of one syllable, it is also a word commonly used in the English language.
So, finally, I received the following e-mail from him:
*Dear FirstName LastName,
Thank you for giving me an opportunity to have an interview for UniversityName. I am a resident of Town, State. Because I do not know where you live I feel it would be best If we both choose a location that will be easily accessible. Once again thank you.
Now, despite the fact that my last name is a common term, and that my name is in my e-mail address, he somehow manages to completely misspell it. It wasn’t a simple transposing of two letters, or a minor typo, either. The only thing I can think of is that he attempted to spell it, phonetically.
During our subsequent e-mail exchanges, I tell him the location of my “preferred” interview spot. The e-mail contains a mapquest map of the location, two different sets of directions of how to get there (depending on whether he was going to come from the north or south) and I list several physical landmarks for additional assistance.
That brings us to the day of the interview, scheduled for 1 pm. I arrive 20 minutes early, in order to make sure that we have a comfortable place to conduct the interview. 40 minutes later, he still has not arrived. I wonder if he is having issues with parking, or if he might already be in the Starbucks and I just didn’t notice him. When he answers the phone, and I ask where he is, he informs me that he just left the house 5 minutes ago, and is on his way. He left for the interview 15 minutes after it was supposed to begin. I don’t respond, thinking he might have an explanation for running so late. Nothing. I tell him that he’s 30 miles away, and that I will see him in 30 minutes or so. At 2:30, I receive a phone call, with him asking where I am. I proceed to tell him my location in the Starbucks. He clarifies and asks, “No, where is the Starbucks?” I use the street names and the landmarks to help guide him, but to no avail. He doesn’t see anything like that, and starts naming the roads that he is passing. None of them are familiar.
Now, one of the streets on the intersection of the Starbucks is also the name of a town located 40 miles away. Do you see where I am going with this? At this point, I’m thinking unless this kid has saved a busload of nuns or found a cure for cancer, his chances for admission are that of a snowball in Satan’s crotch. But, I was already committed to the interview, and each kid deserves a chance, even if they have the reasoning skills of a lobotomized Labrador, so I tell him to get here as fast as he can, but that I do not have much time remaining, as I had plans later in the day.
Finally, at 3:30, he arrives, wearing a suit and tie - quite the contrast to my shirt and jeans. We conduct the interview, and he hands me his resume (a practice commonly practiced by applicants). As I review it, I see one of his activities is the “Hackeysack Club.” Intrigued, I ask about this organization, thinking there may be some sort of hackeysack league I’d never heard of, complete with tournaments, celebrities and the sort. “Oh, it’s just a few friends and I. We play hackeysack after school.” At this point, you’d think I’d have learned my lesson. But, no, I keep pressing. “So, you don’t have a school sponsor or a coach or anything?” “No, we just play hackeysack sometimes after school.” “Ah.” awkward silence
Scanning further down his resume, I notice his “skills.” Maybe it is just me, but I would think that if someone is familiar with Windows XP Pro, then they would also be familiar with Windows XP Home. Furthering this drastic leap in logic, if they were seated at a computer running Windows 2003, Windows 2000 or even Windows 98, I do not think they would break down in a sweaty panic. As such, I do not think it would be necessary to list each of those on one’s resume, nor do I think that same behavior would need to be applied to Excel, Microsoft Word, MS Works, etc. I do, however, think that if he were to get into a car wreck at some point while his resume was in the car, the great amount of padding in the document would protect him from any physical harm.
So, the interview concluded, we went on our separate ways, and I’d like to think I wrote a very entertaining evaluation for the Admissions Committee.
Sorry this was so long. I have a few other stories, but if this is not well-received, I don’t want to waste board-space. Like I said when I started, I really hold no ill will towards the kid, despite some of the things said in the story. If this needs to go to the Pit, feel free to move it there, Mods.