March 13, 2009

Geekiness in the Office

I'm sorry that I have been absent from my blogging post, but my spring break is proving to not be a break.  Instead it's a combination of catching up with people while trying to juggle my senior project and my job search.  The last one is more of what I want to talk about.

I'm in the middle of a career change--from student to whatever the hell looks appealing to me in the Chicagoland area.  I'm hoping to find something that appeals to one of my two degrees and involves management.  So I'm going on job interviews.

A lot of jobs interviews involve questions about you and what your interests are during your free time.  The question is when do you mention you are a geek?

I am not afraid to bring it up when the question is asked that I like video games, but RPGs are a little different.  D&D has a stigma to it to some people (who are mostly much older than me). And trying to explain what an RPG is for the first time is a little hard.  And the assumptions made of people who admit that they are only a little bit into Star Trek or LOTR sometimes causes people to associate a sane fan to the extreme fanatics.  How can you tell if it's a bad idea to mention these interests?

Now there are certain jobs where these interests are common,  but that's not true for the majority of the jobs out there.  I'm not saying it's a detriment everywhere but there are some interviewers who I wouldn't mention "Yeah I'm a Dungeon Master on the weekends."  

Any experience with that readers?  You've been light on the comments recently, I would like to hear what you all have to say.


  1. As someone who has managed and done hiring, I can tell you that the only thing an interviewer is trying to find out when they ask your hobbies is whether or not they will interfere with your showing up for work. Keep answers as innocuous as possible. If you're spending time explaining your hobby, you're wasting time that could be spent proving why you're a good hire. Interviewers may actually be put off by video games since they involve basically sitting around. They will wonder why you're not pursuing more "professional" or "adult" pastimes. This is the same reason I've never mentioned I play Magic:The Gathering or used to collect action figures of sleazy women.

    When you're trying to find a job, focus on telling them what they want to hear. They don't truly want to know anything other than how well and how hard you're going to work for them.

  2. When I was coming out of college writing my first resume, the advice I got was not to mention any activities that the employer might not be interested in. The thinking here is this information would potentially be used to screen you out before the interviews. In other words, don't give them ammunition that might be used to exclude you from the hiring decision.
    Whether you agree with that or not, the screening process (as we do it) often involves a small group reviewing resumes to find those everyone agrees might be worth an interview. At this stage, even one vote against can make the difference in who gets called in. While *I* would be delighted to read about your GMing skills on your resume, I seriously doubt everyone else would be equally impressed.

    You might consider calling it something else, such as "creative writing and storytelling", which it certainly is. This looks good and doesn't have any stigma attached. If the potential employer really wants to know what you mean by that, they have to bring you in for that all-important interview to find out.