The Challenge of Interviewing

“Candor is a compliment; it implies equality. It’s how true friends talk.” – Peggy Noonan

Indubitably, an interview should be a two-way street. It is an interviewee’s job to show himself in the best possible light in order to make the employer want to hire him. On the other hand, it is also the interviewer’s job to make a great impression on the candidate to make him want to work for the organization.

I think we all have some pretty terrible interview experiences under our belts. Some from standpoint of “that terrible panel behavior-based interview of unanswerable questions”; some from standpoint of “do I really have to write a thank you note for that?” The latter types are the kinds of things I can get passionate about, which is why – in light of some past disappointments – I would like to offer all interviewers out there a couple of insights from an interviewee standpoint.

  1. Make it a conversation. Do not simply read prepared standardized behavior-based interview (BBI) questions. Even if it is only a phone interview, it still has to be interactive. I want to feel like I am talking to an actual human being, not a robot. Even my humor attempts were met with complete silence. Instead of trying to impress me with your reading skills, impress me with your personality, show me that you are a pleasure to work with and work for.
  2. Deviate from the script. I understand that with a panel interview you do need to assign the questions to ask and the order in which to ask them. However, please do not make me feel like I have been institutionalized. I grew up in the soviet regime – I know exactly how uncomfortable it is to be controlled.
  3. Show some interest. Try to make me feel like you are interviewing me, because I am actually an equal-opportunity candidate. It is not a secret that most of the time it is known well in advance, who will be hired for the position, and the only reason you are talking to me is because the HR “Affirmative Action” policy states that there is a certain number of interviews that have to take place for this pay grade opening. However, that does not make it ok to treat me like a checkmark.
  4. Listen to the responses. Pay attention enough to have curiosity. After all the BBI questions were asked, there were no follow up questions. Once I was done talking, silence followed. Theoretically, the purpose of the interview is to find out if you like the candidate. It seems logical that asking questions would allow to uncover that more organically.
  5. Select questions that reflect the true nature of the job. The position that I interviewed for was in a much higher paygrade. However, I was not asked about my leadership qualities or my career aspirations. It is perfectly fine to be looking for specific skills, but if at that level, the person hired will be running reports, crunching numbers, writing memos, or pushing the same button like a monkey all day, than I do not want that job. I would like to think of myself as an executive material. And thus, I am looking not just for a job, but also for an opportunity for improvement, growth, advancement, influence. An opportunity to contribute to the organization and drive change. An opportunity to shine and lead. An opportunity to make an impact.

In conclusion, I felt rigidly boxed in, disappointed, rejected, and used. I have no doubt that I was one of the best candidates. I am confident that I can do that job better than most. Not only I am an extremely capable performer, but I am also a professional multipotentialite, a natural leader, and – heaven forbid – I have a personality. No one deserves to be treated like a faceless commodity.

Since the common advice is to always ask questions at the end of interview, I do have a question for the interviewers – why do you never reach out for feedback?

Please do speak your mind, if you have any other advice to the interviewers.



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