For the past 7 months I was trying to get a job. Which is even harder considering I live in Greece.
And for the past 7 months I applied for hundreds of remote jobs abroad and full time jobs in Greece.
In the last couple of months I reckon I have become a Master job applicant.
I’ve encountered from absurd to hilarious questions in almost all job applications.
For most of them I had to incur Business Insider articles or Quora.
The impression that those questions are making specifically for startups, or small companies, or small firms are usually absurd and frankly sometimes insulting.
So, you are a startup that’s just got it’s first funding, or you are a small company that doesn’t even have a website – an approximate corporate identity – or something so that the applicant can understand what it is you are doing and the first question is “Why would you like to work with us” or “Explain to us why do you think you could be a valuable asset to our startup.”
Ok, clearly you are expecting me to start ass kissing, right? That is considered in any profession as highly unethical. Seriously, you have a startup, that no one knows about and you are asking the applicant to kiss ass and tell you that you are “awesome” and that you are “so innovative” and that “I am excited” [“excited” is probably the most overused word usually on startups that’s interpreted as a “let’s say this word because we are a startup and compulsively we have to use it even though we don’t mean in”]. That’s mostly degrading, for both the startup and the applicant. The startup because, come on, you’ve just started and you’ve gone arrogant already? For the applicant because he/she is treated as a lot of companies treat their employees, hypocritical – mostly in Greece. Asking to kiss-ass is asking to lie. So, bad form dear lad [as the fellow British would quote.]
Guys, it might be a shock to you but mostly people who apply for a startup or for a small company they just want a job because they need to pay the electrical bill. And buy food. You know? Essential stuff.
The “why do you think you could be a valuable asset” is usually expressed in the bloody cover letter that all job applications consider as a “must-add-to-your-job-application”. You actually state in your cover letter that you are not a plumber, or an electrician, but you are a highly trained UI/UX designer, with a bunch of certificates and a bunch of experience which is what the job application asks, hence you are perfect for the role, therefore you could a valuable asset. Simple guys.
Keep in mind almost all AngelList startup job applications have the “what excites you more about the startup company” question. How the hell would I know what excites me? This company doesn’t even have a website or it just got it’s first funding, or it’s website doesn’t explain what is this startup’s purpose. If Airbnb asks what excites the applicant to become part of the team, he/she could give hundreds of reasons to write down in that text field. But a newly founded startup? Come on guys!
By the way, I never ever got an answer applying via AngelList even if I wrote everything that could excite me about the company. Ever.
And while you’ve spend most of your day answering questions to a job application – because you thought that if this company is going for so many questions to find the awesome and perfect guy or gal for the job, it must be an outstanding and pretty serious company – you’ve arrived to the “what is the project you have failed and why” question.
Ok, why would you ask a professional this question? What would you gain actually from that especially when your job application states “remote job”? “The Muse” website answers that you should use a real job failure, evaluate and explain how this have become a life lesson bullshitting around the good part, where you became better person job-wise and learned from your mistake. So, guys it’s another ass-kissing, BS and hypocritical story the applicant has to write. Also, come on, if I failed some project, I wouldn’t be that much of a good designer, right? In fact I would be a pretty lousy one.
It comes finally [actually not that final] to the question “what is the project you’ve created and feel proud about.” Proud? Really? Nazis, fascists and far-rightists feel proud. The word “proud” bring together all the Greek nazi Golden Dawn horrible quotes “Proud to be Greek”, or the “Proud American” the super conservative overused quote used mostly by Donald Trump-ish people (sic). Guys, it’s not “proud”, it’s “rewarding project”, or “that made you happy”, or “that made you content”.
The “explain what is a website to your 5year old nephew” question has finally come. It is a question to observe your writing, expressing and cognitive skills. Ok dude, I totally understand that. But why have you asked me 10 questions already in which I’ve written 10 essays to answer them the best way I could showing in this way my writing, expressing and cognitive skills? Why for Robb Stark’s sake? Why? Too many questions in a job application, that is for a newly founded startup or a small marketing company and not for Google, or Microsoft, or Apple, are hellish and nightmarish. You are a small company guys, you don’t need personality, or character over-involved tests.
So, you’ve applied via Workable your LinkedIn data, attached your awesome two-page with lots of space for usability purposes that you read in Web Designer Depot CV, you paste your cover letter that you are writing and re-writing almost twice everyday, answered the whole bunch of questions and the next step is wait.
Three things might happen:
- No answer at all, forever. Which is totally rude and most certainly disappointing, but mostly rude and degrading. You’ve made me answer all those questions, which you knew would take me a lot of time to answer, at least give me a rejection email for Joffrey Baratheon’s sake!
- You get that rejection letter. Which is fine in terms of the fact that they answered you back, even with a negative response.
- You get an email or a phone call for an interview or a Skype meeting. That is the good part. Or is it ?
If #3 occurs, then it is most likely you will have to go through a freaking test, a hard-core case study to check your skills.
This is where it gets totally Game of Thrones Westeros hellish. Speaking for myself, I have almost 20 years experience in digital design, I’ve sent you my portfolio and I have references in my LinkedIn and AngelList profile from past collaborators and you are asking me to spent 16 hours on a custom new service case study to evaluate my skills? Why the heck? Why did I sent you my portfolio then? Why did I sent you my Web Designer Depot-approved CV? Why did I sent you my cover letter which explains that I’ve worked in diverse industries and that I have huge experience. Why did you ask me to explain in an essay what are my biggest work achievements? Why?
Asking to create a case study for an overqualified and experienced professional is interpreted as that:
- You haven’t read my CV, my answers, my references, my working experience. You haven’t seen my portfolio, or the products I’ve helped created, which means that you haven’t done your job correctly, or that you are a cyborg.
- You are using me to design for you the case study service and after you sent me the rejection letter you will use my idea on your product. Free ideas everybody!
From personal experience, I have passed through the case study exercise challenge 3 times – for 3 different companies – until now and passed to the next step where I got my second interview where the guy who interviewed me told me that I was super qualifies for the position and that I’ll most certainly get the job cause the case study was fantastic. After the next couple of days, or the next month the rejection email appeared in my inbox.
Let my tell you this, there is nothing more disappointing, degrading and depressing getting that kind of rejection letter, after you’ve put the best of your skills in that case study to show off your awesome abilities and get a job after job hunting for 7 months.
It is like creating and designing the best you can for a slammed door in your face. No, it is exactly that.
There are thousands of articles about how to get “the dream job” or how to answer the “what makes you unique” really horrible question forcing you to answer in a pretentious and arrogant manner which is most certainly not a virtue if that was what the company was going for.
All that because this is the new trend, or the human-robot type of a job application e-interview. Guess what! Behind those hundreds of answers that you are asking, is not a robot. It is a human being trying to get a job, because you know… unemployment.
If a guy has huge experience and a fantastic portfolio, why torture him with a case study and then reject him? Yes, it is torture.
And in every rejection letter, which is the highlight of the month since usually you don’t even get from the rest of the jobs you’ve applied, you never know the reason why they didn’t choose you after spending so much time in the case study like a jerk [that’s how you feel in a sophisticated sence.] You start to think, is it because I lost my touch in my profession, that I am not that good, or even am I a mediocre? Is it because I am over forty, too old to follow trends – they’ll might think. Is it because life is telling me to give up everything?
Startups and small companies allegedly work in teams, which lead to a professional and emotional bond. This human trade should show in your job ad. Especially if it has to do with studying the job applicants, or even the rejection letters.
IMHO it is pretty hypocritical to advertise genuinely the professional startup team bonding and be a corporate robot while you search for an expert in a field.
Come on, we are not robots. We are humans. Or aren’t we?