Saturday, October 01, 2011

The Captain's GE Interview Story

This was no more than about 4 months ago.

So desperate was I to get out of Minnesota I was applying for jobs that were paying as little as $9 an hour. I didn't care. I just wanted to get out. Minnesota was a veritable prison where it claimed to have a major metropolitan metro and it seemed it would have the ability to provide younger adults a promising career, but it just wasn't happening. The banking sector was helplessly corrupt. The overall economy was infested with nepotists and cronyism to the point you couldn't land a job unless you knew somebody or your last name was "Dayton" or "Cargill." And to top it all off 50 years of socialist liberalism was driving any real economic growth and entrepreneurship to the Dakotas or Mexico.

And so despite my impressive track record of hard work, academic achievement, ability to predict economies and general super-awesome economic genius, it was nothing but a day in and day out to eek out some living in this dying economic entity for the past 4 years.

4 years is a long time, and the 12 before that were at best described as "hostile." Inevitably this wears on a man and I was quite depressed. Not suicidal, but the days ended up becoming things to live through, not necessarily stepping stones to a greater future.

Inevitably, I had enough. I knew that if I stayed another year, I would be pushing that suicidal line. Besides which, my "Enjoy the Decline" philosophy was starting to cement and my own naturally derived logic told me to get out. At any cost, because, well, working as a Wal-Mart stockboy for $8 an hour in Rapid City during the dogshift would be infinitely better than working in the Cold Detroit for what inevitably end up being about the same.

So I started applying for jobs.

Any job.

Long as it was in the Rapid Citya area.

Park ranger, stock boy, chief risk officer, police officer I even applied for a pawn broker position.

Anything I could simply "do."

Inevitably, I came across a "sales rep" position at GE Capital located in Rapid City. It paid $10 an hour and no benefits. This didn't matter to me because I did have ancillary income from online classes, books, etc. (thank you Cappy Cappites!) and could afford catastrophic insurance. All that mattered was I was in Rapid City, would be out of Minnesota and be among the mountains and more or less saner more conservative people. The pay cut would be worth the mental health.

And to my luck I received a call from their HR department. She gave me the regular rigmarole of stupid HR questions. I was answering in boiler plate form. But when she asked why I wanted to work for GE, I (stupidly) answered truthfully.

"I want to move to Rapid City, always wanted to live there and I inevitably want to settle down and retire there."

Then came an odd question from her. One that stuck in my mind;

"But you want to work for GE too, right?"

I answered, "Uh, yes, of course."

I must have answered correctly because a month later I was at an actual in-person interview. Two middle aged men sat across from me. One overweight, the other with a beard. Both leaning over as if they were eager to meet me.

The questions ensue, I answer them, and I quickly realize that because this is such a low-paying job, their primary problem is not just retention, but alcoholism and drug use. More than 4 questions about my use of drugs and alcohol and can I manage the simple and expected task of showing up on time and not hung over.

I look at them as if they never looked at my resume and kind of laid it on the line for them, "Look, guys, I'm 35. I've owned rental property, ran my own business and have worked in the financial service industry for over 14 years. I'm not some 21 year old kid out of college who is still partying. I'm going to show up on time and be sober. That's the minimum I can promise."

Their concerns seemed assuaged by my mini-speech. They then asked why I wanted to work at GE and I gave them the same response I told the HR gal.

"I've always wanted to live in Rapid City, blah blah blah."

And eerily enough, they asked the same question,

"But also because you want to work for GE, right?"

"Uh, yeah, right."

2 weeks later I got the rejection letter.

Now I'm not bitter (they only were paying $10 an hour), but let me explain something here to those of you at GE, or any other firm that is looking for some kind of "sworn allegiance" to your firm or your company.

Screw you.

Are you kidding me? $10 an hour and you think people WANT to work for you?

Is this a joke, or just another baby boomer derived sh!t test to see if you can get people to lie and tell you what you want to hear, thereby another sick and twisted "test" of loyalty?

I am literally speechless at the fact you expect people to parrot or make some comment of allegiance to a firm that pays $10 an hour. Do you think anybody WANTS to work at GE? Let alone a crappy call center position? Let alone WORK AT ALL?

The answer to your most inane question of "why do you want to work here" is a simple one;


You are going to pay me.

Expecting another answer is simply testing out ability to kiss ass and brown nose.

Now, if you want that, ask that question.

"How much are you willing to brown nose, kiss our asses and bend over?"

There are people out there who will answer truthfully. Matter of fact, I think most of the US civilian labor force is so desperate, not to mention fed up, they'll tell you right off the bat.

But Jesus H Christ, to think you're being "sneaky" or "really clever" about asking us why we want to work there and think somehow our answer, if ass-kissing or not, will determine our level of loyalty and efficiency is only the pure bunk that can come out of the aging and decrepit HR "profession."

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, the public sector is the primary threat. But since this is a democracy, the public sector and government we have is merely a reflection of the general population that voted them in there. And while the government is the single biggest threat, that doesn't mean the idiots that voted this latest moron into office don't infect the private sector either. And so infectiously stupid are they, not only do they ask you stupid questions like "why do you want to work here," they then go out of their way to suggest, "but it's also because you want to work at GE, right?"

Right, just so I might have the off-chance of meeting your rent-seeking CEO so I can shove a lightbulb up his....nostril.

You enjoy filling those alcoholic, drug addict $10/hour jobs with automotonic "GE cheerleaders."

I wonder if they interrogate the Chinese laborers they hire so intensely as they do the American ones?


Anonymous said...

Ahh.. you see, an a common person that has common sense would see the brown nose answer is actually a lie.
But to the Ivy League and College
indoctrinated corporate types, they don't think that is a lie because they have already drank to kool-aid.
I had a similar experience, I answered "because I want to make money", thinking the honesty would impress them. NOPE! Rejection phone call came 2 days later.
Entrepreneurship is the only way to go...

Anonymous said...

Employers tend to google prospective hires these days. That might be burning you.

Rosalys said...

It's also possible that because you are so over qualified for such a crappy little job that your interrogators felt you would not be content to stay and would bolt at the first opportunity.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you need to get a job selling cars (

"When you're interviewing, don't tell them you know a lot about cars. They don't care. If they ask why you want to work there, just tell them you want to make a lot of money."

Glenfilthie said...

Depending on who ya ask I am a tail-end baby boomer or a leading edge Gen X. I know how both groups think - and I am on your side CC.

Those guys didn't intend to hire you from the start. They were merely doing 'due diligence' on the off chance that maybe they were wrong about what they saw on paper about you, and a meeting was warranted. Second, there was nothing personal in this at all.

Your problem was that you are over-qualified. No, you WON'T be intimidated by some fat bugger with a receeding hairline. You WOULD make an excellent worker, but a poor slave. You have run your own business and think for yourself. You would be a poor fit for their business model.

The greasy, hairy hippies rail and rant against The Evil Corporate Machine and The Evils Of Capitalism - and they are looking at companies just like GE. Even stopped clocks are right twice a day.

I have their turbine, oil and gas guys as customers...and they ALL drink the GE koolaid. Yes, these drones WANT to work for GE and if GE tells them shit is ice cream they will eat it! Their management personnel are pretty much fucktards straight across the board if the guys here are any indication. They don't rent their employee's services - they OWN them.

And if I may sir - banish this talk of suicide. Don't look at this as failure CC. You dodged a bullet.

Eric B said...

Don't forget to learn the company loyalty song.

Having worked for big companies like GE, I have learned to be as loyal to my employer as they are to me. Basically just remember to look out for number one.

Anonymous said...

Ah, GE interview stories. I was set up for interviews by a job placement group, up back around 2000. All the jobs were garbage. One of the companies was.... GE. When I got to talk to the guy, the job was for a crap, dead end operator job. He looked at my resume and qualifications asked me why the hell I was trying to get this job, I should be a Field Engineer. He gave me a name and number for a manager to talk to in Minnesota, I saw him, they set me up with HR in Chicago and long story short, was never able to get an interview.

Anonymous said...

I suspect this cluelessness disease afflicts more companies than GE. Because the job market sucks so bad and there are so many unemployed, they (wrongly) think that:

a) they can low ball people into taking jobs for as little as 30% the going rate for those skills,

b) they can expect loyalty while giving none in return,

c) they can jerk you around because you have no other options.

d) they will rather hire cheap people who can't do the job well rather than more expensive people who can.

Your response was precisely right.

Anonymous said...

You want to work for X?

No. I want a certain job that I'm applying for, if that happens to be at X, and if X shows a little loyalty I might reciprocate, with a benefit of the doubt thrown in for free on my part.

But yeah, I think everyone who's ever interviewed comes across these non-sense questions, if HR is involved or they are looking to disqualify you.

I got up and left mid interview from one place. Shook their hands, thanked them for their time, and said "it's quite obvious you are not interested let's not draw this out, I can let myself out". Almost managed to get to the door before the HR lady caught me, she was confused by being off script. We parted on good terms.

Captain Capitalism said...

I was interviewing at Deluxe Corp which is that company that makes the checks in St. Paul, MN.

I was told I would be interviewing with the hiring manager. I went in and the first thing they did was give me an application to fill out. I fill it out. And then they have me go in a room where Ms. HR Lady is sitting. Since I knew the hiring manager was a guy, I said, "i'm sorry, I must have the wrong room."

"Are you Aaron Clarey?'

"Yes" i said.

"No, then you have the right room. I'm Ms. Whateverhername was, I'm with HR."

I said, "HR? No thanks."

Turned around and walked out.

ever since then I don't fill out the applications either. waste of time and just another hoop to jump through.

Pulp Herb said...

I suspect that question occurs inversely with the ability of the job itself to hold your interest.

The jobs I have had where I've truly enjoyed the work (including the current one whose broad and middle elements are what I'd being doing anyway if not having to work for money) never bothered to ask asinine questions like that.

Instead they spent their time carefully learning two things:

1. Could I do the work?
2. Would I fit in well with my co-workers (an important if under appreciated requirement)?

My current position had programming test (both formal written code and white board work), mathematical derivations (it's writing mathematical models), and lunch where we got a feel for each other.

Finally, there is a relatively of their question I don't chaff at so much: "why do you want this particular position?" To my mind it acknowledges that I'm looking for work to make an income but they're trying to understand why I want that specific work. The answer to that question can help reveal both #1 and #2 above.