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On the surface

Posted by Bill on November 25, 2005

In Reply to: On the surface posted by R. Berg on November 10, 2005

: : : : : : : Hi all!

: : : : : : : I had a job interview which did not go as well as I had hopped. Basically, my interviewer was not so sure that I was the right person for the job because he doubted I was interested in a long term commitment to his company. After the interview, I sent an e-mail to my interviewer trying to clarify few things hoping to show him that I am indeed genuinely interested. This was his reply:

: : : : : : : "Somehow your write-up does not come as a surprise. It is clear that your interest in X is on the surface. I will review and get back to you."

: : : : : : : I do not understand what he means by "on the surface." Does he mean that he thinks my interest is shallow? Or does he think that my interest in his company is obvious?

: : : : : : : I was educated in US so by background is in American English. My interviewer is from the Netherlands so his background seems to be in British English. Maybe this is why I have trouble understanding this...

: : : : : : : Your help would be greatly appreciated.

: : : : : : : Best regards,
: : : : : : : Zekerijah

: : : : : : I vote for 'shallow', 'superficial' - something along those lines.

: : : : : I get the feeling that the interviewer wanted someone who could and would make a long term commitment to be a part of the company and the team rather than someone who simply wanted a job and an income. I believe the interviewer may have felt that you simply wanted the job and were not interested in (or did not display enough interest in) a long term commitment to the company and the team. Thus, he indicated that your "...interest was on the surface..."--that you simply wanted to get a job. Just my thoughts.

: : : : From the U.S. here. I am not sure what he meant. Couldn't "It is clear that your interest in X is on the surface." also mean your interest is evident or apparent? It is very unclear.

: : : "On the surface, it is clear that .." or "It is clear, on the surface, that..." could be ambiguous, but since it says "... your interest is on the surface" I'd say it is pretty clearly one way. "On the surface" is modifying "interest", not "clear".
: : : Of course, IMO, it is very common in hiring practices to make up lame excuses and then to stick by them no matter what instead of giving any indication of the real reason that they have not chosen you.

: : As Steve E mentioned, somewhere along the line the applicant screwed up and gave the wrong impression to the interviewer that he wanted the job just for the paycheck and did not show much interest in the company except to spend some time there waiting for his next move.

: The meaning isn't unmistakably clear, although "superficial" or "shallow" is most likely. I don't think this interviewer knows English so well. There may been miscommunications in the interview, for the same reason.

At a very deep level the discussion above may be superficial, but on the surface it's really quite profound.