Friday, January 28, 2011

Bad Job Interviews

So we interviewed a job candidate today, and it was horrible. We collectively felt extremely bad for this candidate. It's painful to see how a good, intelligent person can simply slaughter a job interview by saying every wrong thing possible. And I would have so liked to see this particular person get a campus visit, but the interview was too much of a disaster.

I know there was one phone interview I butchered when I was on the market. It was a position I really wanted at Temple University in Philadelphia. I love the city, and the position was made for me. And then during the interview I actually forgot the names of the authors I analyzed in my dissertation. I couldn't name a single one, which made me feel like a complete idiot. I can only imagine what the interviewers thought of me. I still cringe with shame when I remember it. There was also this beautiful moment during that interview where they asked me the question everybody asks you:

"So why do you want to work at Temple University?"

"Where??" I asked like a total fool.

"Temple University," they said. 'The place you are interviewing with right now."

That was pretty bad. But not nearly as bad as the interview I witnessed today. I feel really sad because of this.


Greenconsciousness said...

Why don't you do a post on what not to do in interviews and what employers such as yourself are most impressed by -- for those of us always looking for employment. It would be really helpful. This was a funny post. I am still smiling. A person can just sigh. We have all been there.

Anonymous said...

Great post!

Patrick said...

I personally despise doing interviews. In the past, we've tried to make it as useful as possible.

You see, I've already read your cover letter and resume. I've seen where you went to school - I've already decided that you have the basic set of skills I need in my operation. What I want to determine from the interview is, "What kind of person are you? Will you fit into the culture of our operation?"
This gets you away from the routine interview questions, and it becomes more of a conversation, where I can learn what makes you tick. That, to me, is the best reason for an interview.
Unfortunately, the business I'm with now is dedicated to a 'fair hiring practice', which means we have a panel with set questions and pre-determined 'right' answers. Which makes the process far more rigid, and you can't really get to know the candidate, because there is not flexibility and creativity in the interview process.

Clarissa said...

The thing is that we are not looking just for a colleague. This search is about finding a boss. A candidate might have a fantastic CV but whether they will be a good leader for us as a group is another thing altogether.

I'm annoyed by the rigidity of the "fair hiring procedures" too. Often there are specific questions that one wants to ask of a particular candidate but we have to follow the list of predetermined questions, which is reductive and annoying. Oh, well. We have to make the best of it.