Questioned About Surfing Habit

The following story came from a friend whom I ran into recently:

“I had a job interview with [a large investment bank] last month and one of the managers asked me what kinds of websites I regularly visited. At first I was not sure if she was trying to find out if I was addicted to surfing the net. But I knew if I said ‘no, I don’t surf the web much,’ she wouldn’t have believed it and would have thought I was lying. So I mentioned a couple of general news sites, a few sites related to my hobbies, and academic sites related to my [Ph.D.] education. She smiled and I felt she was happy with my answer.”

He asked what I thought of his response. I said I thought it was a good one, and he did well thinking on his feet. I told him I didn’t think the manager had been looking for a “perfect” answer; I thought she was looking for two things: foremost, she wanted to see how a candidate responded to such a question; second, she was likely also interested in whether a candidate might be addicted to, shall we say, unproductive surfing, such as spending too much time on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, or one of the myriad gaming sites.

Moral of the story: first, don’t lie about your background or lifestyle; second, don’t say things that make you look stupid, unsophisticated, irresponsible, immature, or irrelevant.

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