Rock Star Programmer: The Charlie Sheen Guide To Passing a Job Interview

In The Charlie Sheen Guide To Passing A Job Interview, John P. Lopez provides a very compelling case that answering interview questions exactly like Charlie Sheen would get you hired. I argue that job seekers applying for the position of a “rock star programmer” at a tech startup would do especially well if they had the aura of Charlie Sheen.

Lopez writes:

Seriously, if you didn’t know the back-story — you didn’t know the trainwreck that Charlie Sheen’s life has become, and the history of drug use and decadence — wouldn’t Sheen’s recent quotes be impressive?

Let’s say you were an employer, looking to add to your sales staff? Wanna play? Here are some typical job interview questions and REAL Charlie Sheen answers.

Admit it, you’d hire the guy if you didn’t know any better:

What is your greatest strength?

“I’m bi-winning. I win here. I win there.”

Describe a typical work week.

”I’m proud of what I created. It was radical. I exposed people to magic. I exposed them to something they’re never going to see in their boring normal lives.”

How many hours do you normally work?

“Sometimes sleep is for infants. I don’t sleep. I wait. When I can’t sleep I don’t fight it. I just figure that there’s a higher calling.”

What is your greatest weakness?

I am on a drug. It’s called ‘Charlie Sheen!’ It’s not available because if you try it once you will die. Your face will melt off and your children will weep over your exploded body.”

[...]

What are your salary expectations?

“I’m not [broke] but I was kind of counting on some of that money to get me through the summer. Now I’ve got to like work. But that’s alright. Work’s good. Work fuels the soul.”

[...]

What do people most often criticize about you?

“You borrow my brain for five seconds and just be like dude, can’t handle it, unplug this bastard. It fires in a way that is, I don’t know, maybe not from this terrestrial realm.

Seriously, there is something very wrong with a culture in which programmers’ outrageous self-descriptions are taken at face value.

Men tend to over-estimate their abilities and self-promote more than women when it comes to math and coding ability. Instead of hiring programmers who act like Charlie Sheen, recruiters and interviewers should take imposter syndrome into account.

This is an example of sexism in tech recruitment.

This is an example of unconscious sexism in tech recruitment that assumes that women are bad with math and computers.

A public transit ad shows a brain with two hemispheres. A box pointing to the left hemisphere asks, 'Can you solve one of our puzzles?' A box pointing to the right hemisphere asks, 'Can you explain it to your mom?' Text at the bottom says, 'We're hiring hackers with people skills. itasoftware.com/careers' There is a real yellow sticky note stuck on to the ad that says, 'My mom has a PhD in math.'

The yellow sticky note says, “My mom has a PhD in math”.

Close up of yellow sticky note that says, 'My mom has a PhD in math'

I am not a mother, but if I reproduced, I would be.

The job ad is also based on the same stereotype of female technical ineptitude as “So simple, your mother could do it”.

Original photo by Jessie Bennett (via Sociological Images and Geek Feminism Blog)

Discrimination against job applicants with non-white names continues.

Muslim ‘refused job because of his name’ accuses airline bosses of racism:

A Muslim airport worker has accused airline Cathay Pacific of racism after he was refused a job interview – only to be offered one when he applied two days later using a fake white British-sounding name.

Algerian-born Salim Zakhrouf applied to Cathay Pacific for a job as a passenger services officer at Heathrow Airport.

Mr Zakhrouf, 38, who has lived in Britain since 1991 and is a UK citizen, was told by email he had not been selected for interview.

But applying 48 hours later as ‘Ian Woodhouse’ with an identical CV and home address, he was invited for an interview by the same personnel officer who had first refused him.

via Resist racism, who points out, “For clarity:  My name is not the problem, as others have suggested.  Racism is the problem.”.


Related links:

Masking the gender and race of job applicants increases diversity in hiring.

Eric Ries writes about his experience in achieving diversity in hiring by masking identifying information from the résumés (emphasis mine):

Now, whenever I screen resumes, I ask the recruiter to black out any demographic information from the resume itself: name, age, gender, country of origin. The first time I did this experiment, I felt a strange feeling of vertigo while reading the resume. “Who is this guy?” I had a hard time forming a visual image, which made it harder to try and compare each candidate to the successful people I’d worked with in the past. It was an uncomfortable feeling, which instantly revealed just how much I’d been relying on surface qualities when screening resumes before – even when I thought I was being 100% meritocratic. And, much to my surprise (and embarrassment), the kinds of people I started phone-screening changed immediately.

And yet, when I suggest this practice to hiring managers and recruiters alike, they rarely do it. Hiring managers say, “the recruiter would never go for it” while recruiters say, “the hiring manager won’t accept it.” What I think we’re really saying is: “I don’t want to know if I am biased.” That’s understandable – it’s embarrassing! Even if our biases are only implicit and not consciously held, the systems we build can still contain bias. When we change a hiring policy, especially if we do it in a visible way, we reap two benefits. We actually improve our hiring process and also signal our commitment to meritocracy.

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“I only read Playboy for the articles.” – a study on unconscious bias

The conceit of deceit (The Economist):

YOU are deciding between two magazines to read. The one you choose just happens to feature photos of women in very small swimsuits. But you do not, you claim, pick that particular magazine for the bathing beauties; it happens to have more interesting articles, or better coverage of copper mining in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. You will say this even in the midst of a lab experiment that has been set up so that the only possible difference between the two magazines is the presence (or absence) of swimsuits.

Such was the finding of Zoë Chance, a doctoral student, and Michael Norton, a marketing professor, both at Harvard Business School. The pair were investigating how people justify “questionable” behaviour (Mr Norton’s word) to themselves after the fact. They asked 23 male students to choose between two sports magazines, one with broader coverage and one with more feature articles. The magazine which also happened to contain a special swimsuit issue was picked three-quarters of the time, regardless of the other content. But asked why they chose that particular magazine, the subjects pointed to either the sports coverage or the greater number of features—whichever happened to accompany the bikinis.

This may not seem surprising: the joke about reading Playboy for the articles is so old Ms Chance and Mr Norton borrowed it for the title of their working paper. But it is the latest in a series of experiments exploring how people behave in ways they think might be frowned upon, and then explain how their motives are actually squeaky clean. Managers, for example, have been found to favour male applicants at hypothetical job interviews by claiming that they were searching for a candidate with either greater education or greater experience, depending on the attribute with which the man could trump the woman. In another experiment, people chose to watch a movie in a room already occupied by a person in a wheelchair when an adjoining room was showing the same film, but decamped when the movie in the next room was different (thus being able to claim that they were not avoiding the disabled person but just choosing a different film to watch). As Ms Chance puts it: “People will do what they want to do, and then find reasons to support it.”

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Canadian resumés with English names are 40% more likely to secure a job interview, study finds

Resumes with English names more likely to be noticed (CTV News):

Canadians with English names have a greater chance of landing a job than those with Chinese, Indian or Pakistani names, says a new study.

In fact, after sending out thousands of resumés, the study found those with an English name like Jill Wilson and John Martin received 40 per cent more interview callbacks than the identical resumés with names like Sana Khan or Lei Li.

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