The unemployment rate in the U.S. crested 10 percent last week, a milestone which underlines the hurt last year's economic distress has placed upon the country. Including people who are involuntarily working part time, and those who've stopped looking for work entirely, experts say that a whole lot of people are now becoming uneasily familiar with the Drew Carey era on The Price is Right. Grim news indeed.
Signs of desperation amongst job-seekers have been hitting the front pages with increasing regularity. Last week a man made headlines when he attempted to apply for a job while robbing a Taco Bell at gunpoint. One wonders if he thought this was the ideal way to demonstrate he possessed the rock-stupidness all Taco Bell employees are expected to have? He wasn't even given an application though, just turned aside by a restaurant manager who was apparently in possession of some pretty serious stones. "Beat me with your bare fists, or get the fuck out," is one hardass hiring policy.
This incident did get me to thinking though. With so many job-seekers applying for so few jobs, there's bound to be other ways to "think outside the box" like this when applying for jobs. And if not, then surely I could do something about it, using the prestige and influence that comes with being an Internet comedy writer. Frankly, I'd be delinquent if I didn't use my position to encourage people to rock into Taco Bells without any clothes, "weapon" in hand.
After examining the existing literature, I observed that almost everyone offering advice for interviewees was saying the exact same thing. From this, I posited that as everyone out there is receiving the same advice for job seeking, ignoring that advice entirely would be a sure way for a job-seeker to demonstrate how they were an iconoclastic young firebrand; an asset to any organization. Or get people waving their dicks around Taco Bell. For me there is no difference.
So, I compiled a list of the most common pieces of advice out there, and then using the secret powers of four cups of coffee, I flipped them on their heads to come up with a list of advice sure to land anyone a job, even losers.
Conventional Advice: Research the company beforehand
Most experts recommend reviewing the company's website before the interview, reading up on the company's history, and their products, etc... Which is great if you're writing a book report, or are applying for a job as the office wiener. Every other chump is going to be reading the stupid boilerplate company website, which no one in the company actually cares about.
Unconventional Advice: Research the fuck out of the company beforehand
Instead, try asking around hacker circles on the Internet for advice on how to break into the company's servers. Look for information on the company's financial situation, secret recipes and, in the case of Target, their history of ritual slayings tied to the Winter solstices. See if you can find out personal information about your interviewer themselves - knowing what hobbies he has and claiming you have the same is a great way to establish a bond. How strong is his marriage? Consider sleeping with his wife to establish another common bond.
"Well, I'd have to guess reading, jogging and sticking it to your wife. Ha ha ha! High five brother! Seriously though, she's got some daddy issues, hey?"
Conventional Advice: Look professional
This advice basically boils down to the single sentence: "Dress like you've got the job you want, or better." Which is fine, if you want to look like every other Johnny Bowtie or Sally Pantsuit. You can do better than that.
Turning out your pants pockets for an interview is also a no-no.Unconventional Advice: Look interesting
You want your outfit to cause your interviewer to think, "Holy shit, I bet this guy has some good stories." The daily grind of office life can get a bit boring, so having someone in the office who's really knowledgeable about highway rest-stop culture or your town's Malay machete fighting scene will add a real air of excitement to the work day. Here's some ideas for outfits that should give you an idea of the potential here:
- Sandwich Board warning of doom/incredible savings
- Covered in feces (yours)
- Covered in feces (local politician's)
- Batman covered in feces (yours)
Conventional Advice: Arrive early
By arriving 10 minutes early you show that you're punctual, and respect your interviewer's time. Of course, you get absolutely no bonus points for doing this, but do get to sit at the front of the office for 10 minutes like a dork, reading out of date trade magazines while the receptionist avoids making eye contact with you.
Unconventional Advice: Break in to the office overnight, and sleep under a desk
By showing up for your interview way before any sane or law abiding person would, you demonstrate just how much you're interested in this job; an interest which clearly transcends all norms of sanity or legality (Warning: this is not legally true. Or any other type of true.) More importantly, you also get a chance to imprint the office with your scent, allowing everyone to become comfortable with you before your start date. Hiring managers agree that there's something about the fetid odor of sweat and urine which screams "team-playing self-starter."
Conventional Advice: Give a firm handshake
By giving a firm handshake, you convey confidence, and ownership of a totally-under-control drug habit.
Unconventional Advice: Touch their face
This is a little risky, but the potential pay-off is huge. As an intensely personal action, if this goes over well, you are practically guaranteed to get the job, if not a new lover. I'll also point out that this will be miles easier if you feign blindness first. There are ethical considerations in that, but I'm not going to point them out to you, which should make them easier to ignore.
Conventional Advice: Make eye contact
Maintaining eye contact during the interview is a key to looking polite, interested and responsive. Looking away or shifting your gaze about makes you look untrustworthy or European.
Unconventional Advice: Don't blink
The eyes are the windows to the soul, and the surest way to let your interviewer see the true nature of your character. And now that you've stopped feigning blindness, you need to make up for lost time. Hold your interviewer's gaze at all times, drinking in their features like a man dying of thirst. Thirst for facial features.
"You've got a real pretty mouth."
Conventional Advice: Ask questions about the position and company culture
By asking questions about the position and culture within the office, you stress how interested you are in the role and how you see yourself fitting in to it. This lets the interviewer know you're more interested in the job than the money, which is one of those universal lies everyone tacitly agrees to ignore.
Unconventional Advice: Just dive right in to the company culture
See if you can find some company branded clothes on eBay, like golf shirts or windbreakers. Or just make your own. A crudely knitted sweater vest with the company logo stitched into it to shows you possess resourcefulness and crafty fingers. During the interview, show them company photographs which you've Photoshopped yourself in to. Show up wearing a wig made of employee's hair. (You'll need some prep time for this; also look for Cracked's 85 Tips for Gathering Stranger's Hair on bookshelves this December.)
Conventional Advice: Refer to quantifiable achievements
When discussing past achievements, quantify what you did. Whether it's time saved, money made or products created, by referencing verifiable achievements it makes you look like someone who can actually get things done, rather than someone who is solely responsible for making ass marks in chairs.
Unconventional Advice: Show, don't tell
Any writer can tell you that showing something happened is a far more powerful way to convey it then telling the reader it happened. The same applies to job interviews. Grab something off his desk and show him how to do it better. Interviewers love this.
Conventional Advice: Never criticize your past employer
By criticizing your previous employers, you can come across as bitter, angry or small. Your interviewer will wonder how you'll speak of his company when you eventually part ways.
Unconventional Advice: Criticize the fuck out of them
But, if you're seeking a job in the same industry as your past employment, then your previous employer is likely a competitor of this company. By demonstrating a shared dislike for this competitor, you're sure to ingratiate yourself. Be careful you don't come across as bitter though. Instead, you want to give the impression that you're a concerned citizen who could no longer stand idly by with all that bestiality and sloppy accounting practices going on unreported. Don't be afraid to exaggerate. Phrases like "laundered Nazi gold," or "elbow deep in sheep," help make stories memorable.
Conventional Advice: When asked what your "greatest weakness" is, have a prepared answer
Everyone hates this question. Interviewers know that, and by observing the responses they get, they can form a pretty good idea of how the interviewee handles stress. The conventional wisdom is that when asked this question you should discuss a past weakness and how you overcame it. Make sure the weakness you claim isn't critical to this job. "Can't stand the sound of children's laughter" is a good one, provided you're not applying for a position at a daycare. Sorry; a reputable daycare.
Unconventional Advice: When asked what your "greatest weakness" is, break a piece of furniture with your bare handsBecause fuck weakness, that's why. You're strong, stronger than this chair, stronger than anyone. You're nobody's fool.
Conventional Advice: Provide references
Many times interviewers won't even check references, or if they do, make only cursory phone calls. This is mostly just meant to verify that you haven't made up your resume entirely, or that you've at least made the effort to brief accomplices on the accents they'll need to imitate when verifying your back story.
Unconventional Advice: You don't need any references…
…because right now the interviewer is thinking: "Holy Shit, this guy just kicked a chair in half. He is definitely getting this job."