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Danehy

Tom isn't looking for a job (yet), but he's still preparing for an interview

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I pretty much stay off the Internet as much as possible. Depending on one's point of view, there's either not much that is interesting on the Web, or there is way too much. Either way, it can be a big waste and/or consumer of time. But the other day, I was checking my email and a thing popped up on AOL. (Yeah, I know. AOL? Really?) It was titled "The 25 Weirdest (Job) Interview Questions."

I thought, "I need to print this out, just in case I ever go for a job interview." It could happen.

I sent a copy to Frank Antenori, who apparently is angling for work. I know that he has one of those phony-baloney jobs that they hand out at Raytheon like they were jelly beans, but it's apparent that Citizen Antenori is itching to get back in the political game. He recently tried to piss on City Councilman Steve Kozachik's gun buyback by holding an adjacent gun buy. My favorite part was when Antenori labeled what Kozachik was doing a "political stunt." If anything, what Antenori was doing was a political stunt.

And let's be real here; just about anything could be considered a political stunt. Heck, the original Boston Tea Party was a political stunt. Some serve a purpose; others just serve an individual.

I was thinking that it would make a great question on a math final to plot the trajectory of Frank Antenori's political career. The last part would be undefined. (That's math humor, which is often the best kind.)

Anyway, to the questions. Some are indeed weird; others are absolutely cringe-worthy.

No. 19 is "Have you ever stolen a pen from work?" Technically, the answer is no, but I have taken pens from other people's workplaces. I mean, you go into the credit union and there's a cup just full of those things, all black-and-yellow and new and stuff. They're just moaning, "Please take me, even if you have no use for me whatsoever. I'm stuck in this cup with all these other pens." So, it's not so much stealing as liberating.

Lately, however, the credit-union folks have been putting the pens out without caps on them, which makes me think that maybe they don't want me to liberate them. It's a quandary.

I asked my wife (whom I am never, ever supposed to mention in this column) No. 9, "Name three Nobel Prize winners." She semi-cheated by naming Menachim Begin and Anwar Sadat, who were co-winners of the Nobel Peace Prize for the Camp David accords, and their host at Camp David, Jimmy Carter, who won the Peace Prize a couple of decades later for his body of work. 

No Einstein, no Martin Luther King, no Marie Curie (who won it in physics for her work with radioactivity and again in chemistry for her discovery of polonium and radium).

Seeing as how she has done extensive postgraduate work in economics (which, to me, is like devoting serious study to mood rings), I asked her why she hadn't at least named Paul Krugman or Milton Friedman. She gave me that beautiful left stink-eye and then started in: "Friedrich August von Hayek, Franco Modigliani, John Nash (the A Beautiful Mind guy), Ragnar Frisch ..."

It was nerdy, even by my standards. Thank God she left out Christopher Pissarides. I would've lost it.

In another question, an HR person at Kimberly-Clark, interviewing a biomedical engineer candidate, asked, "If you had turned your cellphone to silent and it suddenly rang really loudly despite it being on silent, what would you tell me?"

I would tell him that I don't own a cellphone and never have. That would impress the hell out of him.

The questions were compiled from a variety of business sources. With the economy still in bad shape, it's definitely a buyer's market for HR people and they can go to great lengths to weed out all but the top candidates.

Some of the other questions included:

• "How would people communicate in a perfect world?" I would just stare at the person with my eyes half-closed and say, "I just answered you telepathically."

• "A penguin just walks into the room wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he here?" I would just stare at the person with my eyes half-closed and say, "I just answered you telepathically." Apparently, that's my go-to move.

• "Pick two celebrities to be your parents." (The correct answer is Sofia Vergara and anybody else.)

• "What kitchen utensil would you be?"

There was one really cool question that I will save for later. I think I'll ask a bunch of people and see what responses I get.

One of the more interesting questions was "What song best describes your work ethic?" The absolutely wrong answer to that is "9 to 5" because that's only eight hours, and in this economy, we'll need a lot more than that out of a worker. Someone in the article answered "Under Pressure" by David Bowie and Queen. I wonder if "Stayin' Alive" would be a good answer or a bad one.

My favorite song of all time (and yes, I have a single all-time favorite song) is "Born on the Bayou" by Creedence Clearwater Revival. In that song, John Fogerty growls, "My poppa said son, 'Don't let The Man get ya and do what he done to me ...'cause he'll get ya."

So far, I've managed to avoid that.

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