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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Anatomy of a Bad Interview

True Story:  Three applicants for the same position.  Remarkably similar backgrounds: All three graduated from the same college; near the top of their class; Each of their cover letters were well written and their resumes were thorough.  All were approximately 20 years old. Same field of study.  All were smartly dressed.  All were the same race, which differs from mine.  All were approx. 40 years my junior.  All took public transportation to arrive at the interview.

All three applicants were interviewed by me.  I provided them with a tour of the facility and covered their job duties and expectations.  In my mind I gave them all the exact same interview.  All interviews were conducted back-to-back on the same day.  I shall refer to them as Jane, John, and Joe.

Here is what transpired:  Jane was 20 minutes early for her interview.  She listened intently and nodded throughout while I was talking.  She was clearly an introvert as she had said very little.  Was I intimidating?  I told her that she needed to ask questions in order to pass this interview.  I said “ask me 5 questions”.  Question 1: How did your business get started?  Questions 2: “What would me typical day be like?”  Those were good questions.  Unfortunately there were no questions 3, 4 or 5.

John’s interview was scheduled for 11 a.m.  At 11:20 a.m. he had not arrived.  I checked my phone and there were no calls or messages.  I then figured that he had changed his mind about the interview. I went about my routine.  35 minutes more had passed and John had finally arrived. He apologized for being late.  Clearly John was an extrovert, great smile, asked lots of questions.  EXCEPT, after he would ask a question he would fidget with his phone just below the plane of the desk.  Was he texting? Reading email? Reading notes? Making notes?  Not sure, but I did draw it to his attention that I could wait until he was done with whatever he was doing on his phone.  He did not get the hint that it was a hint to stop dicking around with his phone.

Joe’s interview was at 1 p.m.  He arrived at 12:20 p.m.  Joe wore a genuine smile during the entire interview.  He was delighted to be at the interview. He did not fully understand all of the things I had described and asked many clarifying questions.  Without prompting he told me of his interests and that he had become so very frustrated at a prior volunteer position.  “People just don’t follow rules” he said.  “It really bothers me when people do not follow the rules.”

Which of these three do you suppose is being called back for a second interview?