Sunday, February 8, 2009


This isn't an original post. It isn't going to be as good as the 300 million resources out there for interviewing skills, techniques and help. But I will share what I see and hopefully it will help you, or someone you know.

I spent the majority of my week interviewing people for a full range of positions. I heard life stories, job stories, school stories and funny stories. Most of it I loved; some of it was simply time that I will never get back. Interviewing can be such a difficult evolution. And I am sensitive in my interviews, as some people aren't necessarily the most verbally gifted ... but can demonstrate in some way, shape or form that she/he can DO the job, and do it well. Other people crash and burn. It's why we interview.

Here are a few of my observations of the best and the worst of my week interviewing.

1. Take out the nose hoop ring. I know that sounds old and boring. It is.

2. Please make sure that you have a good idea of what the job is when you come in to interview. The interview is not the time and place to be asking about the job because, 'you have applied for so many jobs that you can't really remember this job.' One way around this is to print a copy of the positions for which you have applied and match them with contact info, etc for when you follow up. If you don't have a copy of the advertisement, ask the HR/contact person who sets up the interview for a copy of the job description.

3. The person who showed up after you with the job description printed, parts highlighted and her questions written up already has a step up.

4. Don't show up in a fleece pullover. Regardless of the job. Really.

5. Practice. And when I say practice, I do not mean memorizing a shtick that you repeat over and over. For the interviewer, it sometimes feels like we are locked in some Twilight Zone hell listening to you repeat the same words again and again. We begin to doubt our sanity and the questions we are asking. Then we get annoyed. And irritated. Practice answering questions about you - your experience, your interests, your hopes and goals. Print out any of the hundreds of 'great interview questions' and practice.

6. Turn off your phone. Can you believe that I have to say this?

7. Do as much as possible to calm your nerves. We want to like you - we want you to do well. We are pulling for you! You wouldn't be here, in our office or chair, if we didn't think that you had something.

8. Please don't cover last night's late night partying with cologne or perfume. I am allergic to it and you aren't fooling anyone.

9. Don't be a jerk.

10. Be gracious. Be nice to the people in the elevator, the lobby and behind the front desk. You don't know who any of these people are and how information travels. I had a GM who used to sit at the reception desk when she set up interviews for sales people. She wanted to see how the candidates treated the "receptionist." I thought that was brilliant and did we ALL learn a lot from that. And thank the people with whom you have interviewed.

Questions about interviewing? Horror stories to share? Post 'em here or email me.


Lisa Rosendahl said...

See, Saturday was good for a blog post. Re: tip #2 - I started to ask people how they prepared for the interview. Amazing what responses I get. Great tips Maven.

Laurie said...

The one thing I miss about Michigan is fleece. That being said, fleece is not a good look for an interview. Fleece says 'casual' more than denim jeans, IMHO.

HR Maven said...

Lisa, GREAT question. I am adding that to my list.

Laurie, fleece, when coupled with boots, says hick. Not that there is anything wrong with it... ;)

HR Good_Witch said...

My favorite interview experience... I'm interviewing a candidate whom I like, but thinking that this might not be the best fit for the candidate, maybe we have something somewhere else in the company. We spend quite some time talking about her career goals, perfect job etc etc. But, I'm feeling like I'm not "there" yet, that there is more. Eventually, the candidate takes a breath, looks me deep in the eyes.... a moment of silence, then.... she says, "... Can I be honest with you? What I really...". YES, yes, a 1000 times, yes.... be HONEST. Like the Maven says, 'we are on your side'. If the job isn't a good fit, you aren't going to be successful... help us help you.

HR Maven said...

HR Good_Witch,

GREAT comment. You are right, I look for that moment of Aha! I love that moment. Savor it. :)