How to Not Get Hired

So you want to be one of those lucky people, who, despite all the efforts of evil employers to grab and hire them, remain unemployed and free? Here’s how you do it.


  • Start your resume from praising yourself. Don’t use any modest words, go big: you are an expert, a guru, a visionary.
  • Describe your amazing skills: if you ever heard about some technology, say you are familiar with it; if you ever sat in front of a machine, which sysadmin had told you was Linux, you have a proficiency with Linux; if, on top of that, you know what ls -al command is, you are clearly an expert in shell scripting. Since you obviously know how to send email, you have a good understanding of POP3 and SMTP protocols; and you probably own a smart phone, so you can clearly claim expertize in mobile technologies.
  • In general, the words expert and expertize should appear at least 10 times in your resume.
  • Don’t leave out anything you have ever touched. In fact, come up with a list of at least 500 technological buzz words, and put them in your resume in “Technical Skills” section. This list should include “google”, “email”, “notepad” and “SMS” to make sure employer understands that you know thing or two about technology. Another good strategy is to use a lot of 3-letter abbreviations, as most of them will indeed mean something (and possibly more than one thing) in technological world, so the reader of your resume will have fun time guessing what you’ve meant.
  • Then describe your soft skills. Make sure there’s nothing in this section that stands out: always write that you have excellent communication skills, always mention that you are a team player, who also likes to work independently with a little or no supervision, and don’t forget to say that you are a quick learner.
  • Now your work experience. First of all, mention all the jobs you ever held in your life, since high school. Remember that summer job in supermarket you had for two weeks in grade 8? Don’t leave it out! It’s extremely important that employer sees it in your work history. And as far as number of positions goes, the more the merrier: ideally you changed your position every 2-3 months in the last 10 years; and never stay in one position for more than 1 year, or it will seriously affect your credibility. So carefully list them all, with exact months and years of your employment, at which point your resume hopefully exceeds 5 pages.
  • Close your resume with list of your hobbies and interests. Make sure this list takes at least half a page.
  • The last important detail: liberally sprinkle orthographic mistakes over your resume, and make them stand out. That is: don’t bother with missing commas, and don’t misspell some obscure words, which reader may miss. Misspell words everyone would know and notice, such as names of well-known technologies or companies, your own name, or name of the employer. It’s also helpful to misuse capitalization: skip capitalization of first letter in some sentences, and at the same time use some capitalized words in the middle of another sentence for no particular reason.

Cover Letter

Unfortunately cover letter is rarely read by employers. But it’s still a good idea to:

  • Misspell a company name, or better yet, refer to another company.
  • Add a paragraph that describes why you apply specifically to this company. Start it with “I want to work for your company because ” and then paste an opening sentence from About Our Company page on company’s own site
  • Use an x-rated address to send resume: emails like misskitty69@…com or 10inbob@…com are what most professionals would recommend.
  • Apply separately to every position advertised on company site at the same time, just change the titles you apply for in the cover letter. There’s no way employer will notice this.

Phone Interview

If your efforts to not get employed on resume stage have failed, and you received a dreaded phone interview call with a potential employer, don’t panic! You still have plenty of ways to prevent your employment. Most employers call to screen out. So here is how you get yourself screened out properly.

  • If interviewer sets a specific time for interview, make sure you don’t pick up the phone at that time. Most annoying interviewers may call you again and again, to trick you into accepting their call. Just ignore them.
  • If you did pick up the phone by accident, tell the interviewer that you “don’t have time to talk right now”. This is one of the best ways to get rid of potential employer for good.

If you have no other choice but proceed with phone interview, here are a few rules that will help you to fail it.

  • Make sure you don’t answer correctly to any questions about the skills for which you said you were an expert.
  • When asked how you acquired this or other skill, say something like: “I was sitting next to a guy, who was reading a book about it, so I picked up some“.
  • And when you are asked to described your last job, make sure you describe in details anything surrounding your work, but avoid any technical details about work itself. Describe meetings, coffee breaks, Excel spreadsheets you had to fill, and so on. But when describing your responsibilities be as vague as possible.
  • In the end, don’t forget to cheerfully ask the interviewer: “so, I’m surely your best candidate so far, am I not?
  • If interviewer still asks you whether “you think you could come for an interview in our office?”, ask a few simple, “could easily be googled” questions, such as: company address, and driving directions from your house to the office.

In-Person Interview

The interview is your last line of defense. Here you absolutely must make such an impression on your potential employer, that hiring you becomes impossible.

  • First of all, you should look like you are hangover after a night-long party and never slept or changed your cloths afterwards.
  • Never come on time: you should be late by at least 30-40 minutes, and you should not notify your interviewers that you will be late. Another original strategy is to get to the company 24 or 48 hours after the scheduled time.
  • Tell interviewers that you really hate the area their office is located in, and you had a hard time finding it. Sound angry when you say so.
  • Be confident. It’s OK to tell the interviewer that they “don’t know shit“, they “shouldn’t be using tool X, because tool Y is definitely better“, and that when you are hired, “you will ditch that thing on first day
  • Never admit that you don’t know something, answer every question. It helps to learn basics of lawyer language, which will allow you to talk about any topic for minutes, without saying anything. For example if you were asked what do you like and dislike about Jambalaya API (you never heard of), say something like this: “I don’t have much experience with Jambalaya API, however according to my current understanding, it has a very strong potential and definitely a lot of thought was invested into its design and set of features, but I would have to learn more about its scalability and ease of implementation“.
  • At the same time your interviewer should never be clear on whether you really know something: you must keep them in the dark. So give very vague answers to the questions about the topics you are supposed to know very well, don’t be afraid to give wrong answers, and don’t be afraid to argue with interviewer in most confident tone, defending a point of view, that you know is wrong.

Providing references

To further deepen an impression you’ve made on a potential employer, choose your references carefully:

  • Ideally, people you provided as references will mention some of the criminal activities you were involved in while working with them.
  • Next best thing are references who refuse to talk about you
  • If neither is possible, then provide references from places you worked for 10 or more years ago.

Waiting for Results

So you did well on the interview, and your references are solid. You are almost sure they will not hire you (thanks goodness!). Now improve your chances to not get hired even further by following these simple rules:

  • Call your hiring manager at least 3-4 times a day.
  • If they don’t pick up, leave message every time.
  • Just to be sure, also send an email daily, asking when you can start your job

At this point, and we are quite confident, you have successfully dodged all the efforts of sneaky employers to hire you. Enjoy your freedom!

How to Not Get Hired

On Craftsmen, Scientists, Scholars in Forums and Team Structure

Whenever two or more people are clung together in online community or forum, and a heated topic is discussed, you can clearly see three types of participants:

Scholars, whose presence is usually the most vocal, will say how exactly things should be. They never question or try to analyze topics on their own, instead, their arguments rely on authorities a lot, they completely trust those authorities, and genuinely think everyone else is wrong. In other words, they are devoted to the ideas they chose to believe in, without ever questioning them, or applying their own creativity on them, which would give birth to new ideas and concepts. This can be a stage in the development of a computer professional (who of us didn’t trust every word Bjarne Stroustrup or Jerry Weinberg at some point of our life?), or a true mindset of a particular individual.

On the other side of the spectrum are scientists. There are very few of them, and you are lucky to get true scientist on a forum. You will be jealous about their erudition: it seems that they’ve read all those blogs and books on the topic, they are familiar with old approaches, hot trends, new names, and cool technologies. They didn’t only read Jerry Weinberg’s latest book, but also had a discussion with the author himself during some conference. In forums they are usually interested in discussions around things they are currently trying, which usually means there’s more of them on topics discussing new and hot stuff, while older topics leave them uninterested. They, in difference from scholars, do not think other points of views are wrong, for them everything is questionable. If they respond to a forum post, they tend to leave lengthy posts analyzing many different points of views from many different perspectives. And you will get a lot of interesting ideas and references from those posts, if you have patience to read them.

And then there are craftsmen. They rarely participate in the discussions, because they prefer to invent and do things, rather then talk about them. Similarly to scientists, they see that topics are too complex for a binary answer, or a single correct point of view. They are the most creative of all, because most things they write will not come from the books or blogs, but from their heads. They just use whatever works best (in their opinion) at the moment, often not knowing that they just invented something very powerful. On the other hand, they often invent a bicycle. When they post in forums, in many cases their string of thinking remains behind the scenes, and they leave an abrupt post, that nobody else understands, though such post may contain the most genuine and interesting ideas.

Now the question is: whom, from those three archetypes would I want to hire?

Probably I will be more suspicious about scholars, unless they are just out of the school, and have an ability to develop either into scientists or craftsmen. I will build the most of my team out of craftsmen, making sure that a.  – all craftsmen in the team are good in different crafts; b. – they do work on their professional erudition, and invent only new things, not bicycles. And to keep craftsmen motivated, I would like to have one scientist on board (which is hard, really, because true scientists are rare). I wouldn’t want too many scientists, though, because their interest in research and learning new things, not the result, will be harmful for practical purposes. Essentially the most productive and valuable are types which combine craftsman and scientist approach. That is: they have a healthy amount of erudition, they follow new trends, get themselves familiar with new technologies, but they consider this to be only a powerful tool in their box, not the overpowering focus.

On Craftsmen, Scientists, Scholars in Forums and Team Structure

“How to” Notes for Newbie Interviewer

Typical Flow

  1. Introduction
  2. Technical / Professional interview held by 2-3 people and possibly written exam
  3. Personality / Psychological interview held by 2-3 people.
  4. Final conversation


Goal: Take away the pressure, try to make a person comfortable.

Hidden goal: Get the first impression

Good ways to start:

  • Kitchen (“Do you want something to drink?”)
  • Small talk (“Did you have any difficulty getting here?”, even the “weather talk” will do).

Technical / Professional

Goal: Understand whether the person fits into the position

Hidden goal: Continue gaining the impression

All questions basically fall into one of three categories:

  1. Their field”: education, past experience, background. Usually this is where the person is most comfortable and most prepared. So it’s a good idea to start from questions in that area.
  2. Neutral field”: current skills and interests
  3. Your field”: try to understand how they will work in the future and whether they will fit

Their Field Topics

  • People with recent work experience, discuss, few most recent workplaces or projects, preferably done in the last 1-2 years, maximum 2-4 years, no point to dig deeper. Also try to talk about those they were doing for some time, not just few weeks.
  • Students or graduates, or people who had some sort of training recently: ask about their school projects (e.g. “Tell me about your most successful / interesting /  challenging school project”.
  • People with no recent work experience and no recent training or coming from another field: ask about their home projects (did they do anything at all to update their skills?)
  • Tip: you don’t have to know or understand the product or technology they are talking about. They need to understand. In fact, asking “What does this technology/product do?” is another good question in this section.

Neutral Field Topics

  • Topics in this section might derive from their answers to “their field” questions, and / or from their resume. E.g. “Tell me more about your experience with …”, “You mentioned that you worked with…”
  • Try to go deeper to see if the knowledge is superficial, or real. E.g. avoid formal definitions (can be memorized from the book), and specific data that can be obtained from help (e.g. command parameters).

Your Field Topics

Even though it may be important how much person already knows in relevant areas, it’s much more important –

  • Can they learn?
  • Their attitude to testing (i.e.: curiosity, creativity, critical thinking)
  • Problem solving skills
  • What kind of exposure to the technologies / tools you need did they have?

Those areas are tricky in terms of questions. One of the ways to deal with it is to ask for examples or situations from their past. For example: “Did you have to learn any tool or technology by your own? How did you do this?”, “Tell me about some problem or bug that was particularly tricky / challenging / difficult to understand?”. See “How to ask questions” section.

Final Conversation

  • Let them ask their questions
  • If interested in candidate, use this conversation to promote your company and position they applied for
  • Explain (even if they don’t ask) what to expect next

How to ask questions

Types of questions

  1. Question that suggests the answer. Such questions are always a bad idea: even honest person is tempted to lie, as they think they know what you expect them to say
    Example: “So why do you think agile methodologies are better than waterfall?”
    Instead of that, you could ask: “What are some advantages and disadvantages of agile and waterfall methodologies?”
  2. Question that has a predefined set of answers, e.g. “Yes/No”. Such question should be used only when asking about facts, e.g. “Are you familiar with …?” It won’t tell you anything about the level of knowledge.
  3. Open-ended questions are most usable in most cases and help to find out what they really know. Examples on how to start such question:
    • “Tell me (more) about …” / “Can you give me more details about…”
    • When not clear on the answer, instead of asking “Did you mean …?”, ask “When you said that … what did you mean?”
    • “Why do you think…?”

What to ask about

  1. Straight forward questions about technologies or tools (e.g. “What is …?” “How … works?”). Can be an opening question, but be careful, since a lot of things can be taken from the books right before the interview.
  2. Very specific questions and details, tricks and challenges known only to specialists in that area.
  3. Situations from the past or examples, e.g. “Give me an example / situation from the past, when…”. This form is especially helpful in the situations when the person is “stuck”. For example person is silent after “Tell me more about …?” question. You can ask: “Give me an example how did you [use it] in the past?”. Silence after this second question means they probably don’t know, they worked with discussed technology or tool only briefly, or long time ago.

Usually the combination of all of the above questions for each important subject will give you a good understanding of person’s knowledge of the topic. Dig more into the areas which are really important to you, dig less into other areas (they will just tell you how much the resume corresponds the real knowledge).

How to listen to answers

You want to understand:

  1. Professional knowledge: excellent / good / bad / doesn’t exist
  2. Style: goes into details (too much?), very short (up to point? Or wacky?)
  3. Voice, vocabulary, self confidence

Don’t judge, just observe. Always remember that most people are nervous and behave a little bit differently then normal.

How to handle pause / silence

  1. Think why the pause has occurred. Is it because they don’t know what to say, they are thinking, they didn’t understand the question, but afraid to admit, or something else.
  2. Think whether you need to break it, or let the interviewee to do so. In some cases it makes sense to give them a moment to think. But if pause lasts for a bit too long, break it.

How to answer their questions

  1. Try to leave those questions till the final conversation
  2. When you are not sure what to say, ask them to hold this question for later or for upper manager to answer.
  3. If you think this person is likely to be accepted, give them honest answers about challenges of the position. If you think they will be gone for good after the interview – don’t bother, give a very superficial answer.

Equity, etiquette, anti-oppression, human rights, confidentiality, etc.

Very important, know the rules and play by them.

“How to” Notes for Newbie Interviewer