Interview #26 – Touchy Feely

I think this one went decently, but the interview questions were a bit touchy feely as opposed to professional.

I sent in a resume for a county prosecutor position and by 8:30 the next morning I had a message that they wanted an interview. I got it setup with them for a mere two days later.

I show up at the courthouse and I’m somewhat surprised by the general lack of people. Most courthouses I’ve worked in were usually very active and full of people. Not so here. It was very laid back and you got the impression that nothing moved too quickly there.

I head up to the office and end up waiting for a time in the very small waiting room. On a random note, it was the nicest smelling waiting room I think I’ve been in yet. If it wouldn’t have been weird, I really wanted to ask to receptionist if it was an air freshener or potpourri, or what… because it was really nice. The office and courthouse, as with many state buildings, were wonderfully done up in early 80’s chic. The only photo on the wall showed an amazingly dated image that I am going to guess was taken around 1983 based on the big poofy hair and clothes.  (I would feel really bad if it were taken any more recently).

I’m eventually ushered back to the rather small office of the DA, who was an absolutely enjoyable woman. I suppose I thought she was enjoyable because she struck me as someone who spoke rather unfiltered. I am quite certain that if she thought someone was a fucking idiot, she’d probably look right at them and say, “Well aren’t you a fucking idiot.” Flanking me on either side were two prosecutors who spoke narry a word through the interview, with the exception of a question or two prompted by the lead DA.

But… (there’s always a but it seems), the interview seemed to have very little to do with my professional qualifications. I am pretty sure that once again, the interviewer had some sort of internal belief that they could ask probing meaningful questions that were vastly superior to all other interviewing techniques. So what I got was an interview that had such questions as “What was the most important thing your mother ever taught you?” and “What was your greatest hardship in your life?”

A great many questions were focused on my family (as in my parents and siblings). When I did start speaking a bit about my professional specs, I was interrupted and the conversation would be re-routed to a different topic. This left me rather unhappy with how the interview was conducted mostly because any attempt to explain in any sort of depth about my skills and qualifications, or explanations about my past never actually reached the answer I was trying to give. I would start the explanation but would be interrupted 2 sentences in before I hit most of the substance of the issue. But this tack seemed limited to the legal explanations… the touchy feely questions weren’t headed off quite so often. It felt like they wanted a very superficial view of everything and depth was to be avoided at all costs.

A primarily social interview is okay, if you’ve mostly decided on a candidate and already interviewed regarding their professional bona fides. Unfortunately, I got the distinct feeling that my resume had been barely glanced at. They asked me ‘Why work for the DAs office?’ and the beginning of my answer talking about working in one for 2 years in criminal as an intern and then another 6 months on the civil side, led to everyone in the room burying their face in my resume scanning furiously to find the pertinent section. In fact, anything I mentioned about my professional past seemed to be a surprise. The cover letter obviously wasn’t perused (they didn’t even print off a copy of any other materials except my resume, based on a surreptitious glance at the paperwork in front of the interviewer)

There was one moment in the interview when I hit a wall. They wanted to know “Why here, and why not somewhere else… like over at this specific place.” I had a judgment call to make. The DA here seemed to be very matter-of-fact; so I went for it. I gave her the short version of why it was a horrible place to work and I told them that I did actually interview there, ‘but neither of us were too impressed with the other” and further explained why I personally found it rather unfortunate. I think I hit the mark, but I realized I was skirting a fine political line. Telling the interviewer they are superior to a colleague is always good, explaining why is risky.

The interview wound down and I left with no real idea as to what their opinion towards me actually was. It looks like it would be a nice place to work, and a relatively relaxed atmosphere too. I have decent odds as they were only interviewing a handful of candidates and are making a quick decision.

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