Tuesday, April 15, 2008

They Blew the Interview

In the last three months, I have had the opportunity to review many resumes and actually interview at least half a dozen candidates for the open position in my office. I was shocked to find that most of these people did not know the first thing about how to handle themselves at an interview. I looked up job interviews at MSN Careers before they came in, just for a refresher on what was expected. It would have been nice to think that any of the candidates had done the same! That’s my first bit of advice for those of you with a job interview in your future: http://careers.msn.com/. Here’s some more, based on my recent experiences:

Typos in your cover letter or resume? Long rambling narratives? Why????

Speaking of resumes, if you paid someone to write yours for you, please read it before you come in. We’re going to refer to what’s in it during the interview. What’s in it is why we called you! Under no circumstance should you say, “I don’t really know what that is in reference to- I didn’t write it.”

And don’t lie on that thing- we’re going to find out. If you listed “Manager- Circle K” on your resume, it should be because that was your job title. Not because occasionally the manager left his keys with you and went home early.

Go ahead and read over the job description before coming in to interview. When asked, “How are your skills suited to this position?” do not reply, “Well, what does this job do?”

If you have a loud, high-pitched nervous laugh, do everything in your power to NOT LAUGH throughout the entire interview.

Prepare a few standard answers ahead of time. You know there are some questions that are asked by every interviewer- at least pretend like you have an answer. Do not say, “Huh. I’ve never thought about where I see myself in five years. I guess anything could happen- that’s a long time from now!”

Make sure that the people you list as references will actually provide a good one.

When someone asks you a question, answer it, and then please, please, stop talking.

Prepare questions for the interviewer ahead of time. More than half of the candidates said, “No,” when asked if they had any questions for us. Wrong! At the very least, ask me how I like working here. Ask why the last person left. Ask what type of manager my boss is. Ask what our timeline is for filling the job. Ask if we validate parking! Just ask something.

Do not repeatedly tell me that you don’t like interviews. Does anyone? Just because you have stated out loud that you are nervous and uncomfortable does not excuse a bad interview. It’s just made me think you’re an idiot.

It would be too much to ask that you look at our website long enough to learn anything about our organization. I won’t even bother.

Write a thank you note to each person who interviewed you. It’s standard! Send it the very next time the mailman comes by your house. Trust me.

Finally, you are going to be asked to sell yourself. This is also known as “giving you enough rope to hang yourself.” The question will seem innocent enough, something like, “Are there any questions you wish I had asked? Answer them for me.” “Tell me anything about yourself that you think I should know.” “Tell me about yourself.” This is the time for you to reiterate what you are good at, to tell me that you hated having to leave your last job when it was downsized because you had hoped to have a long, successful career there. Do NOT tell me that your parents are there for you if your kids get sick, about how your ex-husband ruined your credit, about how your last job was out by the airport and you don’t like to be out there after dark, about how you’ve “prayed over” this job and think God will do what’s right. (I’m hiring you based on your qualifications- let’s leave the big guy out of it. I'm really only speaking for myself here.) And most importantly, never never say that you used to be a mess, but you’re getting your life together and think this job might be the one you can stick with.

Keep your fingers crossed- for me as we try to fill this position, and for the future of this country. If this is the workforce, I’m suddenly glad to know there are no jobs available out there.


Mrs. Katherine said...

This is all too scary! Of course, when I interviewed for my current job, the first word I listed of 3 to describe myself was "goofy." Would you hire me?

Chip said...

Wow, I had no idea it was this bad.

Cathy said...

Yikes! Are you sure the one who told you she used to be a mess and is now getting her life together wasn't my sister?

An said...

this needs to be an office episode

Melissa said...

Oh good lord.

I kinda hope you don't fill the position anytime soon. You're gonna have a novel's worth of material.