2 min read


An interview for a job is a funny kind of interaction between humans. There is clearly a power dynamic, as one tries to wrangle employment from the other. There is also a whole sample space of expectation and lots of room for you to drive off the rails if you dare.

One of my first experiences with a formal interview ended with the recommendation that I work not to be so arrogant. I found this advice funny as the function of the interview is "let's talk and you convince me why we should hire you".  It is inherently a place where you are almost employed to be arrogant – you just can't get caught doing it.

Over time I have noticed a fracture – real VS CAPTCHA interviews. CAPTCHA interviews are the most common and are typically completed by a recruiter or HR personnel. They are asking to disqualify you and are looking to build a self-soothing justification as to why they denied or recommended you to move on. These types care much more about the brand name on the resume, the certificates (even if you don't remember what you learned), and the firm culture buzzwords.

These are sort of gross creatures in that the kind of person attracted to that type of job breeds insecurity and psychosis.

When you speak to a CAPTCHA you are almost following a known script. They ask expected questions, you provide expected answers. You must learn what these bot creatures want and as long as you do not disturb them from their self-soothing standardized linguistic dance – you move on.

This is often when you meet the team – the people with skin in the game. They are the ones you would actually work with, not just be harassed by to complete some unavailing annual training.  

The team is real interviews and breaks down into a few types:

  • The peer: this will be someone who is looking to see if you are a threat to them. They will want to see that they can get along and work with you, but if you are too threatening or too unextraordinary they will find a reason to pass.
  • The checked-out boss: this will be sort of like a CAPTCHA interview, except the stakes are much higher and you are looking to qualify rather than not disqualify. Here is where your research on them comes into play... you just want to make them like you and while they will follow a standard CAPTCHA interview questionnaire, take them off track and let them ramble.
  • The psycho: this is the boss to takes pride in tripping up candidates. The key to interviewing is to identify the psycho as early on in the interview as possible. They will be the most vocal in deliberations and often have the largest weight due to their impact on groupthink. The key to pleasing the psycho is to let them know you know they are the psycho and give them that energy back. The whole point of the psycho is to take you out of CAPTCHA mode and see what you are really like. Let them see that.