How to Win the Job Interview

Ford Tractor with Farmer Onboard

I have been through many job interviews in my life. Most of them were very educational and a few even resulted in a job.  In highschool I applied for two different jobs and was relatively successful at both. I can still remember my supervisor at Wurtz Specialty Ice in Mayville singing “Everyone has got to bag ice sometime….” as we bagged our endless bags of ice. You would think working with ice would always be a cold job but that is not the case.  Ice machines give off lots of heat and it was exceptionally hot where we worked half the time. This was alternated with subzero freezer temperature which really made your bones feel odd. I was glad to get this ice factory summer job because it paid for part of my college expenses along with working for a farmer and selling my prize winning FFA dairy heifer to a Japanese company. The interview for these jobs went quite well because I suspect I was the only person who showed up on time. Lesson one. Show up for your interview on time.

I had about a zillion interviews at the end of college. I signed up for every interview I could because I was worried I might not get a job and I was very short on spending cash.  Most engineering job interviews go about the same. Some old male engineer asks you a bunch of questions and you provide answers. There were some odd ball interviews though.

One company sent two cute young women in cowboy hats to talk to you. I thought I had gone in the wrong interview room when I saw them sitting there.  They were pitching jobs for oil drilling rigs anywhere from Alaska to South America. They were more interested in my outdoor recreation activities rather than my Electrical Engineering GPA and the job paid three times any other job offer I had. I took a pass on that one. Judy would definitely have disliked traveling to those types of isolated places. Lesson two.  Don’t take any job that would make your fiancee miserable.

I applied at the FBI for some type of technical associate job. The description was kind of vague but it seemed to involve wire taps, electronic eavesdropping and other assorted electronic mayhem. I didn’t expect the FBI to even call me for an interview but I was wrong. I received a very large package in the mail stamped FBI in large bold letters not long after I signed the application.  Nina, my sister-in- law to be, brought me the package from the mailbox and suspiciously inquired “What is this?”.  I think she thought I was in trouble with the FBI and she might be able to stop the marriage before it was too late. I said it was probably a job offer but I probably wasn’t going to take it. She backed out of the room without saying anything. I already had three nearby job offers so I wasn’t about to go on a distant adventure with the criminal justice system.  I would have taken the FBI job if I didn’t find anything else.

Once I was between jobs and I needed some cash.  I can’t remember when but it may have been during college or not. I applied for a job at a large printing company that involved manual electrical work on large printing presses. I got the job. I didn’t realize until I started working that this company printed huge amounts of pornography. Workers there would wallpaper the bathrooms with this stuff. I should have quit but I really needed cash. It was also an unpleasant place to work.  I ended up getting fired because I was blamed for damaging some machines which I don’t believe I did to this day. Lesson three. Don’t accept any job that will make your life crap because there is always something better.

The best interview and job that I ever had was at a dairy plant engineering company.  I had been temporarily laid off by another company so I consulted a “headhunter” to see if he could find me a more stable job. He immediately said I should see an engineering company just across the state line in Illinois but he didn’t say what the company did before I went to the interview because there just was not enough time. The president of the company asked me about my background and I said I grew up on a dairy farm which seemed to make him happy. He asked me numerous questions about the farm which I thought was unusual at the time but may have been a significant factor in getting the job.  Lesson four. Use your entire life experience during an interview.

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