Urban planning community

+ Reply to thread
Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 33

Thread: Most insane things you have heard in an interview?

  1. #1
    Member
    Registered
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Clemson, SC
    Posts
    4

    Most insane things you have heard in an interview?

    Thought it would be fun for everyone to share the most insane questions or statements they have heard in an interview.

    I'll go first: During a recent interview for a Planning Director position where I had been asked ONE planning question, about an hour and change in I was becoming a bit frustrated and started asking some tough questions about the department, about past planning failures, successes, etc. They wanted a director right? The current planner was in the interview room, which was a bit odd, but he had been nice throughout most of the interview. When I started asking actual planning questions to the panel he bristled and stated:

    "We're the type of department that does what the community says, we don't subscribe to the latest planning fads because they are new, or throw away old ones just because they're old, we don't do what the state says, we don't do what the feds tell us to, we do what the community tells us to, and it seems to keep things simple around here.

    I think I sat there for 30 seconds with my jaw open, knowing had a lawmaker from the state or the feds been in the room, they may have shut down the town! But his response explained a lot, because this town is crap. I then proceeded to ask a few more tough questions, got one word responses from the planner, and was later informed by the city manager that he was allowing the planner to hand pick the new director. Needless to say it wasn't me. Which in the long run may be good, as I would have likely been fired in 6 months for applying first year planning principles.

    What crazy things have you heard?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
    Registered
    Feb 1998
    Location
    Greensburg, Kansas
    Posts
    2,964
    Can't top that one. There was a senior planner interview with the assistant city manager. He first asked what job I applied for. During the interview he kept taking phone calls, most seemed to be citizens requesting help with community development and housing issues. He never took any notes: no names, issues, nada. But he always ended with "we will get back with you." I might have turned it down if the job was offered, but it wasn't.

    Then there was southern city director position. Interviewed alone by the mayor. He kept saying that he was elected to "kick ass". I asked who had responsibility for CDBG. He said they gave that to (some African American group), and added "it keeps them quiet for the most part". Things started to go downhill after that. I was wined and dined before the interview. After the interview, I had to find my own way back to the airport.

    Then there was...oh, enough already.
    Last edited by mike gurnee; 28 Aug 2011 at 4:16 PM.

  3. #3
    Member
    Registered
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Waterloo, On
    Posts
    15
    I worked for a Planning Director who smoked 3 packs of Players "navy cut" (no filter) a day (God rest his soul). He had a dinner plate in the top drawer of his desk that he used as an ashtray. I was interviewing for a position, and went into his office. When he remembered why I was there, he said (with his teeth out) .."well, you want the job"...to which I replied..."sure, I'd love the opportunity"....he said...."fine". And that was it. I walked out after 10 seconds, into a new position. Very surreal moment in my life.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian dw914er's avatar
    Registered
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    1,121
    Quote Originally posted by AustinRolland View post

    "We're the type of department that does what the community says, we don't subscribe to the latest planning fads because they are new, or throw away old ones just because they're old, we don't do what the state says, we don't do what the feds tell us to, we do what the community tells us to, and it seems to keep things simple around here.


    What crazy things have you heard?
    I have to assume that this planners ideals comes from a very stubborn and very vocal community. The one where any type of change will probably cause some sort of drama. No matter what the case, good thing you turned that job down. I couldn't imagine working in a place that was so resistant to trying some new, or where I could be sued for not following the law.

  5. #5
    Member
    Registered
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Clemson, SC
    Posts
    4
    In no way does this top the original, but I just had a third interview for another Director position. At the end of the interview I was informed by the group that they hoped to be able to offer 34k to the person they thought was the best fit. Though in shock, I took it well. I understand it's a poor economy, but we're talking Director. I have family members that pull that each year in retail. Dear Master's Degree, thanks a lot!

  6. #6
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    Jukin' City
    Posts
    16,642
    Quote Originally posted by Thurgood View post
    I worked for a Planning Director who smoked 3 packs of Players "navy cut" (no filter) a day (God rest his soul). He had a dinner plate in the top drawer of his desk that he used as an ashtray. I was interviewing for a position, and went into his office. When he remembered why I was there, he said (with his teeth out) .."well, you want the job"...to which I replied..."sure, I'd love the opportunity"....he said...."fine". And that was it. I walked out after 10 seconds, into a new position. Very surreal moment in my life.
    Off-topic:
    Got you beat. I accepted my third planning job without being interviewed...they knew me because I worked there for my first planning job.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian dw914er's avatar
    Registered
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    1,121
    Quote Originally posted by AustinRolland View post
    In no way does this top the original, but I just had a third interview for another Director position. At the end of the interview I was informed by the group that they hoped to be able to offer 34k to the person they thought was the best fit. Though in shock, I took it well. I understand it's a poor economy, but we're talking Director. I have family members that pull that each year in retail. Dear Master's Degree, thanks a lot!
    Maybe you were on Candid Camera. There is no way that HR department has to find that acceptable. What was the salary range for the employees?

  8. #8
    Member
    Registered
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Clemson, SC
    Posts
    4
    There was no salary range, as it was a small locale and this was a new position. Still, 34, was a bit shocking. I have an associate that recently laughed at a town for offering him 52k. He was making more than that with better benefits in the next town over, without the stress!

  9. #9
    52k, 34k... these are some high profile jobs we got here. I could make 52k driving a delivery truck and 34k as a bad salesman. However, these salaries are for jobs in the South, correct? Planning + the South = LOL.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian stroskey's avatar
    Registered
    Dec 2008
    Location
    the delta
    Posts
    1,203
    Quote Originally posted by chocolatechip View post
    I could make 52k driving a delivery truck and 34k as a bad salesman.
    Way to make me feel good about my and my wife's teacher salary . Too bad we didn't just skip college and do those things when we were 18.
    I burned down the church to atone for my transgressions.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
    Registered
    May 2005
    Location
    New Town
    Posts
    3,872
    We interviewed for a new director at a previous organization I worked for (non-planning related) and this one terible know-it-all came in and told us all about how we were going about things all wrong and how she would whip us into shape because, afterall, she was both older AND had moved from back east (where, the implication was, they know how to do things right).

    We declined to intervierw her again in the second round and she was so miffed about it, she wrote a three page letter to the board stating how it was a travesty that she was not asked back (let alone hired), how the staff was incompetent and how our organization would not amount to anything if we kept doing what we were doing (especially, I am guessing, the not hiring of her). Wow, if ever there was any way to make sure you got your foot in the door, insulting the board is certainly it!
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  12. #12
    Member
    Registered
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Clemson, SC
    Posts
    4
    @wahday I know this is a gross generalization, but I find the higher people get in planning (job title) the more they seem to forget about what it is like to have just graduated from grad school.

    @chocolatechip Yes, this is the South. I surmised that the low cost of living might counter lower salaries. I was wrong. I DID make more than 34k as a bad salesman at one point. The most common problem I have found in a lot of small Southern cities is that city charters are written so that the city manager is basically "king." Especially now, this king is largely concerned with growth, any type of growth, because of budget issues. Planning innovation be damned. Therefore, unless one is prepared to be fired in 2 years for exercising any sort of planning integrity, you'll be stuck catering to your superior. It may be time to head back to the Northwest!

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Tarf's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Encinitas, CA
    Posts
    705
    Quote Originally posted by AustinRolland View post
    Therefore, unless one is prepared to be fired in 2 years for exercising any sort of planning integrity, you'll be stuck catering to your superior.

    Back in college, we were taught that if you weren't fired every 2 years (or if you didn't quit), you were simply spinning your wheels and no longer effective as a planner.

    Of course, having a resume showing a new position every 2 years is probably not ideal... fortunately I ended up in the private sector where I don't feel the need to move on every 2 years :P
    In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move. (Douglas Adams)

  14. #14
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
    Registered
    May 2003
    Location
    Staff meeting
    Posts
    8,370
    Quote Originally posted by tarf12345678 View post
    Back in college, we were taught that if you weren't fired every 2 years (or if you didn't quit), you were simply spinning your wheels and no longer effective as a planner.
    Or you realized at about year 4 of professional practice in local government that about 80% of the time it's a job, not a constant holy crusade.

    Silly academics.

    The weirdest I had was one place asking me about the specifics of how my then current employer regulated such and such. It was odd because they seemed be not asking me about my abilities or skills, but surveying the regs of other munis. I'm glad they never called back.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally posted by stroskey View post
    Way to make me feel good about my and my wife's teacher salary . Too bad we didn't just skip college and do those things when we were 18.
    If money was your primary concern, you wouldn't be teaching. Right?

  16. #16
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    Jukin' City
    Posts
    16,642
    Quote Originally posted by chocolatechip View post
    ....... Planning + the South = LOL.
    Cheap shot, c-chip. Generalize much? Even with all the changes this year in Florida's statewide growth management regulations, our statutes still demand local governments provide a high degree of sophisticated comprehensive planning.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian Plus Zoning Goddess's avatar
    Registered
    Sep 1999
    Location
    400 miles from Orlando
    Posts
    13,778
    Quote Originally posted by AustinRolland View post
    @chocolatechip Yes, this is the South. I surmised that the low cost of living might counter lower salaries. I was wrong. I DID make more than 34k as a bad salesman at one point. The most common problem I have found in a lot of small Southern cities is that city charters are written so that the city manager is basically "king." Especially now, this king is largely concerned with growth, any type of growth, because of budget issues. Planning innovation be damned. Therefore, unless one is prepared to be fired in 2 years for exercising any sort of planning integrity, you'll be stuck catering to your superior. It may be time to head back to the Northwest!
    Well, that is rididulous. I am a native Southerner and worked as a planner for 22 years (2 yrs at one place, 8 at another,12 at the last). You are only gonna be fired every 2 yrs if you can't (or won't) adapt to your jurisdiction's ways. One of my professors was an advocacy planner who did his own whatever agenda no matter what the jurisdiction wanted; he became he professor after he kept getting fired from planner jobs. You have to be an idiot to do that.

    As for salaries: I had a little house in central FL I bought 14 yrs ago for $90,000 and sold 4 yrs ago for $185k; I watch House Hunters all the time. It would sell for at least $800,000 in parts of CA. So don't even think about comparing salaries and cost of living between CA and FL. Well, except maybe Miami,but even Miami isn't that cost-inflated. In most of FL, $50k or so for entry-level is good, actually really good. We recently saw a post for a principal in Columbus Ga which is not a small town with a top salary of $64k.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally posted by RichmondJake View post
    Cheap shot, c-chip. Generalize much? Even with all the changes this year in Florida's statewide growth management regulations, our statutes still demand local governments provide a high degree of sophisticated comprehensive planning.
    But no one values it. That's the key.

    So don't even think about comparing salaries and cost of living between CA and FL. Well, except maybe Miami,but even Miami isn't that cost-inflated. In most of FL, $50k or so for entry-level is good, actually really good. We recently saw a post for a principal in Columbus Ga which is not a small town with a top salary of $64k.
    The ones referred to in the OP are director positions, not entry-level.

  19. #19
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Jul 2010
    Location
    BC, Canada
    Posts
    218
    A couple things I thought were odd: once I was offered an associate/mid level job in a different part of the country after one or two phone interviews (I can't recall). It was in a different part of the country, in a respected state as far as planning went, at a city over 100,000 I really expected they would've brought me in (or asked me to cover travel - I was willing) for a final interview to make sure I fit in and to sell me the community. Is this unusual? The job had a strong regulatory focus and was fairly specialized (a mature preservation program that would've involved lots of architectural review for modifications to homes and the like), not the best fit so I ended up declining. Come to think of it I had one other offer through phone interviews (also associate- or mid-level).

    Another time, I was asked to interview as one of two finalists to be the long range planning department in a small but beautiful southwestern town with a strong counter-cultural element. They wanted to do the final interview by phone. They contacted me several months after I had applied. By then my wife was starting college. I figured since I had just completed my masters' degree and a one-year internship, maybe they already had a local candidate they wanted and just wanted to make it seem competitive. Being that I couldn't move, I declined the interview. Now that I do technical assistance and see lots of young folks get these types of jobs in small communities, I wonder.

    Doesn't it seem unusual to do finalist interviews over the phone? Or is it just me? (I'm less comfortable on the phone than most, perhaps). Is it more common in the public sector where departments "should" stick to objective criteria, de-emphasizing things like personality and fit? Or do they choose to do this because they can't fly finalists out and don't want to ask them to pay themselves? It would also seem, if I were serious about a job, I would want to interview in person so as not to be at a disadvantage to local applicants.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian stroskey's avatar
    Registered
    Dec 2008
    Location
    the delta
    Posts
    1,203
    Quote Originally posted by chocolatechip View post
    If money was your primary concern, you wouldn't be teaching. Right?
    The word-for-word reason teachers aren't paid as well as they should be.

    Quote Originally posted by Zoning Goddess View post
    In most of FL, $50k or so for entry-level is good, actually really good. We recently saw a post for a principal in Columbus Ga which is not a small town with a top salary of $64k.
    Each part of the country is so different. Most planning jobs around here start around 35-38K. And many planners do zoning enforcement as well.
    I burned down the church to atone for my transgressions.

  21. #21
    Quote Originally posted by stroskey View post
    The word-for-word reason teachers aren't paid as well as they should be.
    .
    I know. My comment was more sarcastic than it was honest. I believe a lot of teachers should be paid twice as much as they are now. Probably one of the most demanding jobs, and not too sure why our society values them so little. Kind of like planning.

  22. #22
    Cyburbian jsk1983's avatar
    Registered
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Chicago, IL
    Posts
    2,106
    Quote Originally posted by chocolatechip View post
    I know. My comment was more sarcastic than it was honest. I believe a lot of teachers should be paid twice as much as they are now. Probably one of the most demanding jobs, and not too sure why our society values them so little. Kind of like planning.
    Ten plus years ago some tax payer group sent around a flyer with the salary of every single teacher in the local school district. I think the salary topped out at around $70k which in Buffalo is pretty decent money. You can live pretty well on that not to mention they could retire at around age 55.

  23. #23
    Cyburbian Mud Princess's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Upstate
    Posts
    4,871
    Quote Originally posted by jsk1983 View post
    Ten plus years ago some tax payer group sent around a flyer with the salary of every single teacher in the local school district. I think the salary topped out at around $70k which in Buffalo is pretty decent money. You can live pretty well on that not to mention they could retire at around age 55.
    "Topping out" at $70k is not the same as the median salary for a teacher, and not everyone can afford to retire at age 55, either. I have several teachers in my extended family. I was shocked when I learned how much (or more accurately, how little) my SIL is making with 25+ years of experience.

  24. #24
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
    Registered
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    3,173
    Quote Originally posted by mendelman View post
    The weirdest I had was one place asking me about the specifics of how my then current employer regulated such and such. It was odd because they seemed be not asking me about my abilities or skills, but surveying the regs of other munis. I'm glad they never called back.
    Maybe there were trying to see how adept you had become at knowing what the code was? We had someone here that after ten years couldn't answer simple questions that even the admin assistant knew the answer to. It wasn't because he would want to refer back to the code to make sure he was right, it was because he never cared to (or could?) absorb the regulations.

  25. #25
    Quote Originally posted by tarf12345678 View post
    Back in college, we were taught that if you weren't fired every 2 years (or if you didn't quit), you were simply spinning your wheels and no longer effective as a planner.
    That's just idiotic, and I would argue the exact opposite is true.

+ Reply to thread
Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast

More at Cyburbia

  1. Why are AICP/APA dues insane?
    Career Development and Advice
    Replies: 55
    Last post: 19 Apr 2011, 5:55 PM
  2. Replies: 1
    Last post: 22 Dec 2006, 9:41 AM
  3. Replies: 9
    Last post: 08 Dec 2005, 11:42 PM
  4. Insane sports groupies (men)
    Friday Afternoon Club
    Replies: 10
    Last post: 22 Mar 2004, 12:55 PM
  5. Replies: 18
    Last post: 25 Jul 2002, 5:04 PM