Friday, May 29, 2009

Interview Faux Pas

I'd like you to meet a few people whom I will not be hiring.

The Deer In The Headlights
This candidate sounded perfectly confident during her initial telephone interview, but when she got into my office she froze up like a frightened rabbit. She sat perfectly still with her knees pressed together, her shoulders slightly hunched, and her hands in her lap. Only her eyes moved slightly. She had great experience, but our rougher patients can smell that kind of fear. They would eat her in one gulp.

The Mumbler
Mumbling is not a good activity in an interview. It's especially bad if you have an accent.*  I have a pretty good ear for accents. I missed 10 - 20% of what this candidate said while straining with all my might to understand, which means that the average person would probably miss at least 50%. The department I manage is all about communication skills. Next candidate, please.

The Gum-Chewer
If you caught my tweet a couple of weeks ago about a gum-chewing job applicant, this wasn't her. I had a second gum-chewing interviewee within two weeks. What is it with these girls? Doesn't anyone teach them basic manners? I might have let that go if everything else about her was excellent, but I sussed out from her attitude and some of her answers that she might be a little lazy too. I like employees who are self-motivating. NEXT!

The Day-Dream Believer
Such a sweet lady, with a genuine smile, and living in an absolute fog. Her resume looked great. I called her and set an interview date. Two days later our ad ran in the newspaper a second time, and she sent me another resume. Clearly she wasn't keeping track of which jobs she'd already applied to. That didn't look good, but anyone can make a mistake, so I kept the interview. This woman couldn't give me one straight answer. She'd get to talking and go off on tangent after tangent, rarely providing the actual information I was looking for. Thank you for coming. Don't let the door hit you in the butt on your way out.

The Bearer of Broken Dreams
This candidate left the administrative field to follow her dream career. Since the recession hit, the dream dried up and withered away. She had all the qualifications and qualities that I was looking for in an employee, except enthusiasm for the position. She was very obviously disappointed to be back in the administrative field, and the signs of her glum bitterness showed through her professional veneer. I'm sorry for her loss. But I don't want that negativity in my department. There are plenty of people who would be excited to have the job, and I'll be happy to give it to one of them.

Mrs. Right
I think I've actually found her. If all goes well I'll be able to offer her a position very soon.

*Edited to add:  I don't want anyone to think that I'm xenophobic.  Just to be clear, 50% of my current staff have accents, relative to common speech in Toronto.  Also, Mrs. Right has an accent.  I'm not against accents, so long as there is no mumbling to complicate the picture.

13 comments:

Warped Mind of Ron said...

Is Mrs Right hot and single and willing to relocate??? If so I might have a position for her too! ;-)

wigsf said...

Forget about Ron, I'm available with no relocation required.

p.s. I've always liked the line "Don't let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya."

Sparkling Red said...

Ron: She's hot, but I don't know about single. I think I can guess what kind of "position" you have in mind.

WIGSF: I hadn't heard that one. I like "Seeya, wouldn't wanna be ya". It's succinct.

darcknyt said...

*Furiously scribbles notes, bookmarks the post*

Got it.

Gum, out.
Mumbling, out. Speak up.
Fear nothing ... check.
Love the job. Got it.

Thanks!

unsigned said...

I'd put her in a 360 reverse piledriver. SEXY!

Tink said...

I once interviewed a girl who (without prompt) admitted to getting arrested for beating the crap out of her roommate. People are weird!

NicoleB said...

Grin, Best of Luck ;)
I remember the day when I spoke to my first Australian Hotel guests.
I felt like I couldn't speak English at all :D
Talk about an accent :D

LL Cool Joe said...

I'm interested in hearing about Mrs Right. Is there such a thing? ;)

Jenski said...

I remember being a part of hiring technicians when I was a technician. We had a lot of just plain BORING people apply. One girl only used the adjective 'interesting'. Blech

Hope hiring Mrs. Right works out!

Scarlet said...

I like the titles that go with each applicant. "The Daydream Believer" was hilarious. :)

I can't believe anyone would show up chewing gum for an interview. What's worse is if he/she mumbles as well.

I'm glad you found Mrs. Right and I hope she accepts the job.

San said...

It's been a while since I've interviewed anyone for a gallery position, but I don't believe I've ever gotten a gum-chewer or a mumbler or a deer in the headlights. But the Mr. and Mrs. Rights have been few and far between nonetheless.

Sparkling Red said...

Darcknyt: I could probably make some decent money writing a book of interview tips. ;-) But I like to keep some of my tricks up my sleeve. I don't want to be too transparent to my prey, I mean applicants.

Unsigned: Keep your hands off my Mrs. Right! I want her all in one piece.

Tink: Wow. That shows impressively poor judgement. If there were a Darwin awards for interviews, she would be a contender!

Nicole: For sure, there are lots of people who speak English as their native tongue who I find almost impossible to understand. A thick Scottish burr is a tough one to interpret, to my ear.

Joe: No one's perfect, but at least she's Mrs. Pretty Darn Good. :-)

Jenski: Yikes. I have trouble interviewing boring people, especially if I have other things on my mind. I find I can't pay attention to them. My mind wanders. It's too bad for them because they might actually be good employees.

Scarlet: Thanks! These are the things that go through my mind while I'm in the interview. Sometimes I make a decision right away that this is not the right person, but I ask a few questions anyway so as not to make the applicant feel that they completely wasted their time. Then I go off on tangents in my head instead of paying attention to their answers.

San: Yup, it usually takes a lot of interviews to find that one right person. Being patient is difficult but necessary.

Aurora said...

Nice portraits!