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Why the job interviewing process sucks...

In the last phase, trying to decide between two or three, always found it useful to take an applicant out for a simple lunch with one or two colleagues, away from the office. People are more real and revealing off site.

If I were hiring, this is what I'd do. People can look good on paper, know how to clinch an interview, seem interested. But you take them out to lunch and ask them about the job they want - that almost always reveals the real person. I can talk to someone about air conditioning for 10 minutes, and know if they have the goods or are blowing smoke.
Then again, that's a technical job. Might not work for all occupations.
 
Couple of examples. (I have been looking since September) One is a job I found at a job fair. Spoke briefly to the HR guy there. Set interview for the following day. Go in, interview lasts an hour and I feel good about it. Except for one thing. No job description exists yet. I could research the company all day long. I thought it would be a cool place to work. They make high end light fixtures. They kind of stuff you see in high end homes, resorts, hotels, restaurants and the like. Made here in USA. Do all the metalwork AND the glasswork in house. The accounting department was expanding.

The following Tuesday, I got a call from HR, inviting me back for a second with the CEO. I am excited. Still no job description. But I have the CEO's name and information. Still can only research him and the company. Turns out, what they want and need is someone with greater financial analysis skills and background than I have. But everyone's time was wasted. His, mine, the other candidates. The CEO was the one doing the financial analyst role. (he had a MBA from Stanford) I later saw through one of the aggregators (ziprecruiter, indeed etc) a posting for the position. This time done right.

That is just one experience I have had.

Today was a video interview. Now that is strange. Using the camera on your laptop. You hear about, oh, you will be able to practice and re-record on video interviews. Not this one. You had 30 seconds to read the question and prepare your answer, then start. ONE TAKE, re-recording was disabled. We will see how it goes.

Only reason it has gotten to this, is I interviewed with a company week before Christmas, got an offer began on-boarding, references, all that. Start date January 8. Company is a major financial firm. So fingerprints have to be done. Done initially day of interview. Get a call on 1/5 saying something wrong with them, gotta re-do them. So went in on 1/8 to do them. Fast forward to 1/23. Still not legible. Need to go to the State and have them done and take the cards in. Did that morning of the 24th. (and $15 out of my pocket) As of today, still no start date, although early March is a maybe. Excuse me if I don't take your word for it on a maybe. But because I am on unemployment, I HAVE to apply for a minimum number of positions per week. Last I heard, they don't need anything more from me. Going to a networking thing on the 21st regardless.

So interview this past Friday, 85 mile round trip commute. (near Hill AFB) Not real excited about that. The video interview today. A phone interview tomorrow. If I get beyond that, over 30 miles one way commute. Of course, I have aging parents and long commutes aren't conducive to being able to spend time with them.
 
Another question I always had problems with ...

"I have 200 other people interested in this job. Can you tell me why I should hire you over them?"

Well, ummmmm ... how am I supposed to proceed here? I know nothing about the other candidates. I don't know what their education or experience is like. How can I compare myself against 200 unknowns?

Exactly. It's one thing to say why you're a good fit for the position, but it's impossible to compare yourself with 200 strangers that you know nothing about.

The blunt answer would be "With all due respect sir/ma'am, it's not my place to tell you that. You know what is best for your company, I don't. This is what I can bring to the table. I believe it would serve you well, but it's your decision."

Of course they'd penalize me for saying that.
 
Relax and be yourself.

This is probably the most difficult thing to achieve during an interview because it's a formal presentation, and you're in the spotlight. You can't really be yourself when every word, facial expression, and element of your being is under the microscope.
 
In the last phase, trying to decide between two or three, always found it useful to take an applicant out for a simple lunch with one or two colleagues, away from the office. People are more real and revealing off site.

That's a very human approach, I wish more companies would do that. That would feel more like a learning conversation instead of an interrogation.
 
Regarding the "be yourself" advice, I personally don't want to work for a company/leader/manager who doesn't like who I am. Being anything other than yourself is asking for trouble. Put on good manners and a suit, sure, but illustrating character that isn't really you is going to end badly sooner or later.

Be honest about your strengths and deflect around weaknesses, but people will either like your character or they won't. You don't want to work for the people that don't and the ones who do will worry less about your other attributes. Sell your particular shape, if they like that shape they'll find a hole for you even if the advertised hole isnt right.
 
On the other side of the desk...

Applicants not even familiar the job you need, let alone qualified.
Applicants just there for the check mark to keep their "entitlements" flowing.
Applicants who don't even try to impress.
Applicants who outright fib to you, and you both know it.
I had one who answered their cell phone during an interview.

However,
The applicant who looks you in the eye
The applicant who converses with you
The applicant who tries to impress, but not BS you
The applicant who acts like they WANT the job

These are the folks we hire, as long as they have a smattering of knowledge about the job, we can train the rest.

An interview has some tough questions, we want to see how you react and can you think on your feet. But, mostly we just want to get a feel for who you are and will you be a good fit into our company's culture.

I was hired in a multi-interview process for a national company. All the interviewers were concerned with my task knowledge, not who I was. I was not a fit for their culture and after 4 miserable months I quit.

+1

The most important thing is "Compliance with corporate culture”
 
In the last phase, trying to decide between two or three, always found it useful to take an applicant out for a simple lunch with one or two colleagues, away from the office. People are more real and revealing off site.

A few applicants in the final phase of applying for senior positions at my work have been taken out for dinner and drinks. Nothing like a few drinks with the CEO and Managing Director for a final character assessment.
It is a stark difference from the base line workers. Interview, drug test, medical and plant tour.
 
If I had a position open and had narrowed it down to 2 or 3 people and just couldn't decide, I'd ask each to ride with me for a day in the work truck. See what tools they bring, what they know, how they work, "read" how comfortable they are actually doing the job, how the interact with customers. Not easy or cheap, but if you can't decide between applicants, watching them work usually reveals the winner.
 
Applicants just there for the check mark to keep their "entitlements" flowing.
Been there. Done that. Many times.

Another HUGE frustration of the job-hunting process is the people that work at helping you to find a new job.
They stand at the front of a classroom and teach you things that everyone should already know ... what I learned to refer to as the "S" list.

Shower.
Shave.
Shine your shoes.
Show up on time.
Sit up straight.
Shake their hand.
SMILE.

I recall one facilitator that asked everyone in the class to sniff under their armpits, to stress the importance of showering and wearing clean clothes ... then she asked us to breathe into the palms of our hands to smell our own breath to remind us to brush our teeth and use mouthwash before an interview.

Really? I would think that someone that can't figure these things out on their own shouldn't be in the Employment marketplace in the first place ... then again, if they didn't teach simple, common-sense items like this, those facilitators wouldn't have much to do.

Same thing goes with all the Job-Fairs and Networking meetings and Interview workshops and Resume-writing seminars ... I attended these things for years, and none of these activities ever put a single dime in my pocket. If nothing else, it caused me to lose money, since I had to pay for gas, tolls and parking. Along with resume copying fees, dry-cleaning for my suits, haircuts, etc.

The facilitators don't care if I get a job or not. They still get paid the same every week. When I point out to them that I've been following their job-hunting instructions for 3 years and I'm still unemployed, all they can do is respond with cliche answers like "These things take time" and "You can't give up" and suggest that I go edit my resumed (for the 147th time) or they tell me to go re-read the Parachute book and come see them next week if I have any questions.
 
I think that one of the biggest issues is the disconnect between the filtering process and the job requirements. When I have participated in hiring, I've always been given a stack of resumes from HR that have been groomed based on what they think I need. One time when I was trying to hire a software engineering intern, I got a stack of resumes from students going for a degree that was an IT/business hybrid. Every single interview (which included technical questions) was a mess, and the candidate with the best resume/interview was wholly unprepared to do the expected work because he wasn't a CS or EE major.

I don't prepare much for job interviews. Frankly, if you're gonna spend an hour playing gotcha with me, I'm moving on. I'm there to tell you who I am, expound on my resume, and ask you questions about your company and your open position. In some industries it makes sense to make sure the applicant is competent, but that doesn't change the purpose of the interview.
 
Another HUGE frustration of the job-hunting process is the people that work at helping you to find a new job. They stand at the front of a classroom and teach you things that everyone should already know ... what I learned to refer to as the "S" list.

I hear you there.

The way our modern culture has evolved (on virtually every front) only points to a failure to teach our kids basic life skills. Just the other day I had a conversation with a lady who bemoaned the lack of civility and politeness and courtesy among most people. "We were raised to do these things." Yes, we were - and today's kids aren't. So, you have to tell them to shave and shower and wear clothes that they didn't sleep in and show up on time and turn off their blasted phones.
It's frustrating and frightening at the same time.
 
I'm there to tell you who I am, expound on my resume, and ask you questions about your company and your open position.

Good point. During a recent interview I had I wasn't given the opportunity to ask the owner any questions that I had. And the questions he asked me were way off base. Not one question about my decades of experience, but a line of questions on whether I was married, for how long, to the same woman, did I have kids, etc. Needless to say I didn't take the position.
 
Good point. During a recent interview I had I wasn't given the opportunity to ask the owner any questions that I had. And the questions he asked me were way off base. Not one question about my decades of experience, but a line of questions on whether I was married, for how long, to the same woman, did I have kids, etc. Needless to say I didn't take the position.

Was he also curious what you do on Friday afternoons or Sunday mornings? :D :D :D

Some of those questions are illegal to ask in Canada.
Of course you can chose not to answer, but that doesn't look too promising for you, same way asking those questions doesn't look too good on that particular employer (assuming they are legal in your state).

Bottom line as I said before, interviews mostly suck, but we all have to "play the game", and rules are far from perfectly clear. In ideal scenario, you are interviewing them just as much as they are interviewing you, but to get to that point one needs certain level of financial independence and skills that are highly in demand. Often that's not the case - often there are several candidates that could do the job equally well.
 
Good point. During a recent interview I had I wasn't given the opportunity to ask the owner any questions that I had. And the questions he asked me were way off base. Not one question about my decades of experience, but a line of questions on whether I was married, for how long, to the same woman, did I have kids, etc. Needless to say I didn't take the position.
I once went to an interview at a company I had previously worked for. I left on good conditions and wanted to return after a 3 year absence.

They gave me a written test to complete, and I blew it out of the water. I knew this corporate culture and I knew how they wanted the questions answered. It was pretty easy. So I moved on to the next round, which was a face-to-face interview.

The interviewer and I already knew each other. She had started about the same time I did previously, and brown-nosed her way into a District Manager position.

The interview was going well, or so I thought ... then she asked me a question that really floored me.

"You're a Jew, aren't you?"

I tried not to visibly flinch, hesitated for a few seconds while I composed my answer, and I said "Yes, I am."

She wrote something down on her notes, and after an uncomfortable pause, I asked "How does my Religion relate to my qualifications for this job?"

She knew she was busted for asking an illegal question. She shuffled some papers on her desk, closed my application folder, and she said "We'll be in touch. Send in the next candidate." No handshake. No thank you. I gathered myself together and left.

Needless to say, I didn't get this job. When I called back several times over the next two weeks to inquire, my phone calls were never returned. Nor did I get anything in the mail to let me know I can stop holding my breath.

I considered reporting her illegal question ... but I had no proof. It was my word against hers.
 
I have considerable experience hiring, but the last time I interviewed for a position was 15 + years ago. And back then employers still were posting jobs in newspapers and soliciting paper resumes.Technology has changed the process, making it even more impersonal.

One thing that has not changed. It is easier to find a job if you already have one.
 
If you have attended a workshop on resume writing and interviewing skills, you're wasting your time going to another one. They're pretty much all the same.
It's impossible not to feel a little (or a lot) cynical when you have been actively job seeking for an extended period of time. Whether you admit it or not, feeling cynical will affect your peformance in the interview. The words you choose, tone of voice, body language, eye contact, examples stated, and so on will all be affected by your state of mind. That little micro-expression that flashes across your face when you get asked the same dumb question the last numbskull asked you is often noticed and interpreted as negative. It's a vicious circle.
 
It is hard out there now. Just keep going. Don't give up. It is a numbers game and the game is changing.
I just landed a new job in Australia and I am leaving a job in Abu Dhabi this week. I feel for you and all those that are job hunting. Jobs are out there and I am sure there are a few with your name on them. Good luck.
GJS
 
It sucks on both sides of the desk, trust me.
agreed there. I've done literally hundreds of interviews as the employer and not quite that many as employee. I've learned a lot, though and am a big fan of the behavior based questioning line. Am getting a lot better at being on both sides. Although, working in the newspaper industry, we don't hire anymore.
 
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