Sunday, July 06, 2008

Oak trees make great employees

My buddy Josh, looking to change gears and companies, just had a job interview in which he was asked, “If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?”

If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t know what kind of tree you’d be, then you obviously have no business developing web pages for a small company.

Josh replied, “That’s an easy one. Oak tree, definitely.”

“What makes you say that?” the interviewer asked.

“I wanted to give you an answer quickly,” Josh replied.

Off-the-wall interview questions are, as Howard Hughes would say, the wave of the future. On the first recruiting trip I ever attended for my company, during which I discovered how much easier it is to breathe on the other side of the table, an experienced interviewer let me watch her work. Every one of her interviews began like this: “Repeat after me: silk, silk, silk.”

The interviewees, expecting to talk about their qualifications, would hesitantly say, “Silk, silk, silk.”

Then the interviewer would ask, “What does a cow drink?”

At this point, the interviewees would invariably say “milk.” One person in ten would say the right answer: water. I said “milk” the first time I was asked, but I’m generally inclined to stick by that answer even though it’s clearly wrong, which probably means I should run for higher office. Baby cows drink milk, dang it. Some may argue that a baby cow is called a calf, not a cow, but I can’t hear them because I’m sticking my fingers in my ears and going, “LA LA LA!”

Besides, if I was giving the interview, the real answer wouldn’t be water or milk, it would be “What does a cow drink?” because Simon never said to stop repeating. Hopefully, I would be interviewing somebody to be a third grader.

Josh did well enough on his interview that the company started calling all of his references, which, unfortunately for Josh, included me.

“What are his greatest strengths?” the caller asked. When you’re trying to stick up for your friend on this kind of a call, they expect you to lie, so even though you want to say that in college, when you tagged along to watch Josh get his nipple pierced, and he sat there in the chair cracking jokes with the person who was about to inflict enough pain on him to make passing a kidney stone seem like a pleasant way to spend the afternoon, you were very impressed with how strong he was, even though a month later his mom would cry and make him take it out, you should still just say that he’s a great team player.

“What are his greatest weaknesses?” she asked next.

“Booze and women,” I replied. Just kidding, of course. This question was tricky, because you can’t list an actual weakness, but you have to say something.

“He’s kinda short,” I said, which was the best answer I gave during the whole call because that’s only a weakness if he was interviewing for the NBA or for a job where he’d be expected to get the Saran Wrap out of the cabinet over the fridge.

I was hoping she’d asked me a wacky question, like, “In your personal opinion, does a dog have four knees or two knees and two elbows?” but she stuck to the boring script instead. I guess if you’re not interviewing for the job and just trying to help out your friend, they don’t care how many quarters you think you’d have to stack end-on-end to reach the moon.

Anyway, Josh called yesterday to say that he’d gotten the job, probably because the other guy said he’d be a sassafras tree.

You can shoot a rubber band into Mike Todd’s cubicle at


  1. I would be a coconut tree!!!!!

  2. I think I would be one of those fake Ficus trees.... You'd only have to wipe me off with a damp paper towel occasionally..

    I think dogs have two knees and two elbows.

    I totally agree that cows drink milk... just cause I wanna agree with you.

    And also? It would take something like 43,762,891,003 quarters to get to the moon. Like they're gonna freakin' CHECK that....

    I would so vote for you for President of the Student Council, Mikey...

  3. 'course if that interview had taken place in certain parts of Dublin, Ireland, it would have gone like this...

    "So, what kind of a tree are you?"

    "Tree? Ah, sure I'd never be a tree, I'd have ta be at least a seven or an eight!!!"

  4. Blogger JL Pagano said...

    'course if that interview had taken place in certain parts of Dublin, Ireland, it would have gone like this...

    "So, what kind of a tree are you?"

    "Tree? Ah, sure I'd never be a tree, I'd have ta be at least a seven or an eight!!!"

    A similar conversation could have taken place in Scranton, PA.

    Ah, the good old days recruiting :-)

  5. Miss Anne -- That's very considerate of you to be a plastic tree. And thanks for the vote! I think Donald Duck would still beat me, though.

    JL -- Can I say LOL, or do I have to type out that I laughed in order to avoid saying LOL?

    Jen -- Ha! I bet you said water the first time, didn't you?

  6. ok - us hicks in Maine said 'milk' instead of 'water'. We're fired.