So after graduating from college in ’92 with a BBA in Accounting I spent the better part of 2 years looking for my dream job. A number of my Accounting classmates had gone on to work for one of the ‘Big 4’ Accounting firms of that time and I couldn’t help but wonder why I was having such a hard time finding that dream job. After all, I had helped many of my classmates with coursework over the years so I was certainly just as smart and qualified as they were. Looking back, perhaps certain my interviewing skills were not as sharp as they should have been.
The hiring process of one particular job that I did land remains today as one of my most memorable.
The job was a bookkeeping position for a small accounting firm. One of the bookkeepers was leaving and the principal of the firm (A.J.) was looking for a replacement. I recall having an initial phone interview after my resume was reviewed and was asked to come in for an interview.
I believe two other people came in for an interview around the same time as I did. We were all brought into a conference room where we took an assessment test. I was a little surprised by this because I had only been given assessments at really large companies that I applied with. This was a small firm so it struck me as odd.
Anyway I plowed through the assessment. There were a few math problems to solve and several accounting-related word problems as well. I reached the last word problem which posed the question: “Why is GIGO so important?”
I stopped to think about that one for a minute. All the other questions seemed to relate to accounting and math, so why is this guy asking about a computer term? For those that don’t know, GIGO stands for “garbage in, garbage out”. I remembered that term from several computer classes that I took in high school and college. Then the light bulb went on and I proceeded to answer the question by linking the computer term to the work of a bookkeeper and how important it is to input data correctly. What comes out (financial reports) is only as good as the data input keyed in by the operator.
I had a face-to-face interview with A.J. shortly after completing the assessment and was hired within the next few days.
On my first day, I remember A.J. telling me that of the 20+ applicants who interviewed for the position, I was the only one who answered the GIGO question correctly. See, in Accounting, one of the acronyms you learn about is FIFO, first in, first out, which is a phrase associated with inventory process. On A.J.s assessment, the second to last question had to do with LIFO (last in, first out) and all the other applicants assumed that his last question about GIGO was a typo for FIFO. I can see how applicants could think that there was a typo. The F and G keys are side by side on a QWERTY keyboard.
Thankfully, my prior exposure to GIGO in my computer classes was the difference maker. A.J. introduced me to my supervisor (also newly hired) and proceeded to show us some of the computer technology he had in place to safeguard his business data. I could tell that this A.J. was into computers and technology which appealed greatly to me.
Interestingly (although A.J. was pissed) I stayed in that job for less than a month because I realized soon after starting that Accounting work bored me out of my mind. I was far more fascinated with the dynamics of computers and technology so I left to venture into technical support.
Nevertheless, I always reflect back on A.J.’s recruiting process and that fascinating question about GIGO!
Have you had a memorable interview or recruiting experience? Tell me about it below in the comments!