How to deal with the tricky situation of being asked your Facebook password at interview
It has recently been discussed in the news that interviewees applying for jobs have been asked for log in details for their Facebook accounts. Considering these are extremely private areas of a person’s online life that are the 21st century equivalent of a diary, which we all know is extremely private to the extent that looking inside someone else’s is considered the depraved act of some kind of pervert, everyone assumed that the law would outlaw such impertinent requests. It has been revealed during this last week that the American government actually considers such a base and offensive level of behaviour to be acceptable recruiting practice.
Now many people may be extremely offended at such a request in interview and would be so flabbergasted that they might not be able to think of a good retort on the spot. Some people of course make a career of thinking of pithy ripostes that will allow a dialogue to flow. I am of course talking of the literary professionals that create some of the masterpieces of fiction that we spend our spare time reading or watching on the television. I thought it would be a good idea to ask these wordsmiths for creative responses that would allow the interviewer to see that you did not wish to divulge such personal information whilst giving them the impression that you possessed a quick witted mind that might be an asset in their organisation.
I was successful in soliciting the advice of Stieg Larsson, a notable Swedish novelist. He suggested countering the request by allowing the interviewer to see how intrusive such a request might seem with the following line: “Have you ever had any sexually transmitted diseases? And when was the last time that you were tested for HIV? How many partners have you had in the last month? And how many of those were men?” When the interviewer hears this they will immediately realise that their request may have overstepped the boundaries of propriety and will immediately offer a heartfelt apology.
Following my conversation with Mr Larsson I contacted Mr Quentin Tarantino who is particularly familiar with contemporary western vernacular and asked him for possible suggestions as to how one might deal with this potentially tricky situation. He wrote the following dialogue around which you may wish to improvise, you should start with the first line:
What do I look like?
Possible response: What?
What country are you from?
Possible response: What? What? Wh – ?
“What” ain’t no country I’ve ever heard of. They speak English in What?
Possible response: What?
English, motherfucker, do you speak it?
Possible response: Yes! Yes!
Then you know what I’m sayin’!
Possible response: Yes!
Describe what I look like!
Possible response: What?
Say ‘what’ again. Say ‘what’ again, I dare you, I double dare you motherfucker, say what one more Goddamn time!
Do I look like a bitch?
Possible response: What?
At this point it may help bring the conversation to a conclusion if you shoot your interviewer in the shoulder before saying ‘DO I LOOK LIKE A BITCH?’
Possible response: No!
Then why you try to fuck me like a bitch?
Possible response: I didn’t
Yes you did. Yes you did! You tried to fuck me and I don’t like to be fucked by anyone except Mrs <insert your last name here>
Mr Tarantino suggests an alternative would be to say:
“The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother’s keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy My brothers. And you will know My name is the Lord when I lay My vengeance upon thee.” This is a good rejoinder if you have been having a particularly trying day and feel that you have already had to put up with an exceptionally excessive amount of “Shit like that”. Of course this is only to be used if you have no objection to killing your interviewer in cold blood before making your excuses and leaving. If you are not prepared to create such a lasting impression at interview then this particular response is probably better not to use as it can leave a confusing impression and may therefore damage your chances of succeeding in gaining your desired position.
I made a request of Anthony Burgess in an endeavour to elicit his most imaginative solution to the conundrum of dealing with an overly inquisitive interviewer and he offered the following gambit:
“Naughty, Naughty, Naughty you filthy ol’ soomka! Thou globby bottle of cheap, stinking chip-oil? Come and get one in the yarbles, if you have any yarbles, you eunuch jelly thou.”
However, I was unsure whether he intended this to be a contribution to my article or whether this was more in the line of a personal comment directed towards me.
When I spoke to David Mamet, who is known for writing Glengarry Glen Ross, he suggested I should point out to the interviewer exactly how inappropriate it was of them to make such a request. He suggested a suitable way to do this would be to remind them of the capacity in which they were employed. He told me that a possible line with which you could succinctly and politely do this would be:
“What the Hell are you? You’re a fucking secretary. Fuck you! That’s my message to you– fuck you, and kiss my ass. And if you don’t like that, baby, I go across the street and I speak to <Insert name of business in competition with that of your interviewer>. Period. Fuck you.”
When I approached Ethan and Joel Coen for a possible response they took the angle that you should be direct with your interviewer and offer a candid response to their enquiry signalling that you felt it overstepped the mark. They said that if you were to do this it would signal that you had a strong character and would give them the appearance that you were the sort of prospective employee that would be firm in your approach to your work. A possible line they said would be appropriate to generate such a positive impression is as follows:
“let me make something plain. I don’t like you sucking around, asking me questions like this <insert interviewer’s name here>. I don’t like your jerk-off name. I don’t like your jerk-off face. I don’t like your jerk-off behavior, and I don’t like you, jerk-off. Do I make myself clear?”
I thought that humour might be a good way of breaking the tension in the event that this question arises so I asked Adam Sandler how he might deal with the situation. He said it was important that the interviewers should realise how ridiculous their request was and he offered a possible counter to be used in interviews where there are several people present:
“<insert the name of the member of the interview board who has requested your facebook password> what you’ve just asked is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your offensive, inconsiderate request were you even close to anything that could be considered an appropriate interview question. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I will give you no password, and may God have mercy on your soul.”
Of course many of these approaches are a little more racy than many people would like to use in an interview situation so I wondered what a female member of an older generation would be likely to say if they were asked such a question in interview. As I was always a fan of the Golden Girls I thought it might be a good idea to ask America’s favourite white haired mature actress, Betty White how she would respond. I asked her “Betty, You are an incredibly ancient woman. I was wondering if you would help me by giving an impression of a typical response that might be used in a particular situation by someone of a similar level of decrepitude as yourself.” She gave me the possible response, “If I had a dick, this is where I would tell you to suck it.” She then hung up without even saying goodbye but I suppose at her time of life you don’t waste valuable seconds on pleasantries that may better be spent taking prescription medication. It is curious how she was so readily able to offer a suitable response before I had even told her the hypothetical situation we were discussing. I suppose that is the intuition and wisdom of advanced years.
Having already taken the step to move away from writers towards thespians I felt in the interests of gender fairness I should take the point of view of a male actor. Luckily I had Tom Cruise’s phone number so I asked him how he would respond in interview if this question was to be directed at him. He is of the opinion that such questions should be given short shrift. He told me that an interviewer would lose all respect for you if you were to simply cave in to their pressure. He told me that the sort of response that would give the impression that you would be able to succeed in any position that a company might wish you to take would be as follows:
“Take a big step back… and literally FUCK YOUR OWN FACE! I don’t know what kind of bullshit power play you’re trying to pull here, but my Facebook page is my territory. So whatever you’re thinking, you’d better think again! Otherwise I’m gonna have to come over there and I will rain down an ungodly fucking firestorm upon you! You’re gonna have to call the fucking United Nations and get a fucking binding resolution to keep me from fucking destroying you. I’m talking about a scorched earth, motherfucker! I will massacre you! I WILL FUCK YOU UP!”
Tom told me that he had once said something very similar in an audition and that he had won the part. He was certain that this would work in most instances.
As you can see there are many creative techniques to sidestep the discomfort of this situation arising in interview that anyone might apply. There are obviously more ways to approach an interview than there are words in the English language. I could not speak to every actor and writer that I would have liked to approach but I hope that these few responses give you inspiration for your own style of response. Good luck at that interview and if you use any of these techniques with success or think of any other creative interview responses that prove successful then please leave them in the comments for future readers.