The job interview

The job interview, with all its probing questions, is likened to alchemy or witchcraft in many articles on social media. And using a CV is apparently also out of grace, given the plethora of social media from which to garner information about candidates.

Well count me out on that fad. I am often asked to interview experienced candidates for senior positions; I find the job interview as extremely useful. True, I have been fooled and duped. I have been unduly impressed as well. I have written off people who have later succeeded in the job, only to caste my judgement into doubt. Yet over a protracted career of 48 years, I feel the interview helps to provide the client with valuable information and  lessen the margin of error.

Just for the record, I want to point out some of the things I look at in job interviews-verbal skills, lies and discrepancies in the CV, explanation of failures, career aspirations, reactions to various role plays which parallel the job for which the candidate is applying and when necessary, cross cultural literacy.

The job interview is not a sales pitch for the company to which the candidate is applying. The experience of the interview must be respectful yet challenging. Not a walk in the park. The candidate should feel that the organization is mitigating its risks by making an effort to get to know him/her and that the experience engendered is akin to a challenging hard work out.

My assessment of most of the people I interview is fraught with errors in judgement, misreading and guesses, some educated and some stupid. But it is infinitely better than accepting a candidate based on any other means. It’s an indispensable and very imperfect tool.

Oh heavens, I forgot to mention. Candidates who take calls on their mobile during the interviews are generally rejected.

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6 thoughts on “The job interview

  1. I agree absolutely. The interview is indispensable. And there is another aspect – it is an acquired skill that improves with practice and experience.

  2. Interesting – I am currently interviewing people for a position where I work. It is not a senior position but it is not entry level either. I generally feel that I can tell is the person is even possible in the first 5 minutes of meeting them. I care less for direct skills (do you know how to use Obscure-X CRM system) than for what the skills and experience they have says about how they approach things. There have been some changes over time -more and more people have ‘gig’ jobs – consulting, sales, etc and more and more people change jobs fairly frequently (beyond 2 years is already unusual). I am also seeing a lot of advanced degrees.
    I don’t rule out people with esoteric degrees – sometimes that reflects a deep curiosity about the world and a willingness to learn new things and think about them (but of course not always). I recently posted a list of things that job applicants should do – 1. Know something about the place and job to which you are applying – in today’s click and send many people apply to 100 jobs a day. 2. Have a good question to ask – and asking about salary and benefits doesn’t count 3. After a F2F interview send a note (email is fine) thanking them – this may be the singular thing that makes you stand out, its called follow up 4. a cover letter also can be the deciding factor 5. if a company calls and leaves a message call them back asap 6. have examples of your strengths, be able to refer to a real example of why you are great..

  3. “Candidates who take calls on their mobile during the interviews are generally rejected.”

    Just. Wow.

    (Maybe I’d understand if a loved one was in the hospital or similar, but an interview typically lasts what, an hour or two?)

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