TOP TEN: Interviewing Tips for Idiots

9 Mar

I hire people. Frequently. So I’ve endured a lot of interviews in my day. I’m gearing up for another round of candidates as I type, so I’m sharing this for selfish – not altruistic – reasons. Please forward to any of your friends applying to jobs.

I offer up these tips as a direct result of sitting through the interview in which it happened. All stem from (very sadly) true incidents:

  1. If you have a child, please don’t bring it to the interview with you. Splurge for a sitter.
  2. If you ignore Rule #1 and bring your child to the interview, please do not whip your breast out and feed it while we are talking. (I’m hungry too, but you don’t see me fishing JellyBellies out of my filing cabinet. LIMITS, people.)
  3. Turn your cell phone off. If you forget and it rings, apologize and silence it. DO NOT take the call – unless you are a surgeon or expecting a baby.
  4. If you DO take the call, when the caller asks what you’re doing, don’t say, “Nothin’,” like you’re just sitting on your couch stoned eating Cheetoh’s and watching MTV. You are in an interview and I can hear you.
  5. When asked what your sales strategy is, do not reference the phone book and your feet. Cold calling and door knocking is something that happend in the late 1990s. And even then, it wasn’t considered strategic.
  6. When asked why our company is a good match for you, please do not say, “Because the office has a weight-loss challenge and I’ve recently lost 10 kilos myself, so I think I’d fit right in.”
    • The only response I can think of to that is: Sure! Because our strategic plan for profitability is to be SLIM. Or wait – since we don’t make money by being skinny, perhaps you’d like to interview with Richard Simmons or America’s Top Model? Or, conversely, tell me more about how your weight-loss will translate into revenue for us?
  7. Do not volunteer that you are married, have children, have a mortgage, have a burial expense – or any other obligation that makes your employment financially necessary. We all need to work; don’t burden me with your reason. You made your decisions, I didn’t. Unless it helps me understand your value to my organization, I don’t really need to know.
    • A corollary of #7 is “Because I need to make enough money to clear my alimony and child support obligations,” and my response  to that is, Awesome. Now that I know what’s important to you, let’s talk about your ability to see a project through to the end. It sounds like you might have some issues there. “
  8. Do NOT pull out a magazine and show me topless women sprawled out on the hoods of cars, even if you DID sell the ad space in that magazine. I think I’d rather see the person in Tip #2 breast feed.
  9. When asked why you left a job, I don’t need to know – in graphic detail – how your boss came onto you at the men’s urinal. I think you can come up with a vague blanket statement (like poor leadership) that covers that base without scarring my brain.
  10. If you are drunk, stay home and sleep it off. We’ll let you reschedule. Attempting to interview – only to A) Miss the chair and sit on the floor, or B) Call us from a jail cell where you’ve been charged with a DUI – is not going to increase your likelihood of getting the job.

And finally, as an added bonus – when asked what questions you have about the position, the Top Five Questions out of your mouth should not be:

  1. How much sick time do I get?
  2. How much vacation time do I get?
  3. Can I work from home or bring my child to work?
  4. When can I take my first vacation?
  5. Are you actually going to call my references?

I work for a very progressive company that actually has great answer to all those questions. But the point is, you probably shouldn’t be focused on how little you actually have to work. You should concentrate on what value you bring to my organization.

Call me old fashioned, but if I wanted to hear about your vacations, I’d hire someone better than you so I could take them myself.

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4 Responses to “TOP TEN: Interviewing Tips for Idiots”

  1. Lucas March 9, 2011 at 9:11 pm #

    What about the old adage of “Don’t worry about it. They’ll call us when they need help”. I heard that from a few people in my day that were at a Sr. Mgr level.

  2. botut March 10, 2011 at 10:06 pm #

    Wow, this speaks volumes about the [insert adjective] people applying for employment considering 99.9% of these tips are total common sence!

    Cracked me up! Thanks.

  3. Judson March 11, 2011 at 9:45 am #

    In D-fence of #1, she may not have had enough common cents to hire a sitter, or the sitter may have flaked out on her. Although I agree that at the very least some sort of prior warning or explanation should have been offered. Also, once the situation was established, the choice for #2 may have been that or a screaming unhappy baby, so she may have simply been trying to make the best of a bad situation. Alternatively, she may have been hoping to use the child to gain sympathy from the interviewer as an extension of #7, which is not cool.

    • pithypants May 15, 2011 at 5:08 pm #

      I bet Ange misses the drama of previous bedtimes!

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