This week has been an interesting week. Yesterday I walked out of a job interview we had with a potential staff member after 21 minutes. In 15 years, I’ve never done that before. I don’t know who was more surprised, Ryan, our CEO or David, our Service Manager – but the candidate certainly realised he made a mistake when I did. What did he do that was so bad?
- Body Language –from the very start of the interview, this guy did not look like he wanted to be there. He was slouched back in his chair, he was fiddling with his phone, his entire manner made me think that he’d rather be anywhere but here in this interview.
- Failure to qualify who he was talking to – there were three of us that interviewed him – David our service manager introduced himself and his position as he walked into the room. I introduced myself by name only as did Ryan. Now he probably knew Ryan was our Managing Director from the phone interview, but he had no idea who or what role I played in the interview and he didn’t bother asking either.
- Failure to complete the basic questions – we have a standard set of questions we ask people to complete when they come for a face to face interview. These questions are both technical to understand what level of knowledge they have right off the bat as well as some thought provoking questions like “How many cars are there in Australia and why”. The idea being to get an idea on how they think. Well this guy came in and answered one or two of them and then when we asked him why he had not done more, he told us that they were irrelevant to the job and he should not have to do them. Bad move.
- Lack of research – When going for a job, you would think it logical to peruse the company website of the company you are seeing. This will give you an idea of who you might be talking to, the type of company they are, the products they focus on and so on. This guy said that he didn’t have time to check our company website initially and then later suggested he had done so briefly.
- Desperation – this guy focused on the fact that he needed a job quickly, and was “just looking for a job”. In some lines of work, that’s totally fine. However in most professional jobs like ours, we’re not looking for someone who is “just looking for a job” – we want someone who has a passion to succeed and the desire to apply themselves to grow. Someone just looking for a job to put food on the table is not always going to be focused on delivering great customer service. Come 5 o’clock – they are likely to be out the door without a second glance at the customers interests.
- Argumentative – this is where he really came unstuck. When I questioned him about his body language, and asked if he was interested in the interview at all, he started attacking my body language and told us that once more the questions given to him were irrelevant. He told us that he wanted us to give him a go and he would prove that he was a good worker and knew his stuff. Sorry mate – but being a good technician is not JUST about knowing how to fix a problem – it’s also a fair degree of customer service skills and being argumentative with someone who you do not know what they do in the company, or their skill set is really not the way to go. What would have happened had he actually been allowed to talk to our customers?
It was at that point that I’d had enough – I walked out of the interview much to his surprise. Ryan and David persisted with him and his attitude changed and he then wanted to look at the questions again – and whilst we let him do that, he’d well and truly blown his chance.
Ok – so how about some tips on getting a job?
- Be prompt for the appointment – if you are running late then call ahead BEFORE the time – not 5 minutes AFTER you were supposed to be there (this guy above was not late).
- Know the company – check out the company website, use Google to do some research – in 15 minutes you will get a good idea of who this company is and what they do. If there are staff names mentioned on the website, then check them out on LinkedIn – you can get some valuable information there that will help you prepare for the interview. Someone who knows about our company before they come in is always going to have a better chance than someone who knows nothing about our company. It also shows that you are very much interested in not only the position, but the company itself.
- Introduce yourself AND find out who you are talking to – when you meet the people conducting the interview, ask what their job role is within the business. Understanding this can help you determine who you need to ask specific questions to as well as who the people are you need to be focusing your attention on. Be careful though – just because someone is the CEO of a company, does not mean they are the one making the final decision. As is the case with our team, we have a few of us input our thoughts and discuss how the applicant responded before we decide on a job offer or not.
- Be calm – easier said than done. If you are nervous it’s ok to admit to that – most interviewers expect a little nerves. Say you are nervous, but don’t keep going on about it as it detracts from your overall appearance. Take a few deep breaths and go in with your best face on.
- Don’t exaggerate – if you have played as part of a team doing a particular project – be upfront about it – don’t claim you’ve been the Team Leader and come up with all the cool decision yourself. Also if you’ve had part in a design of something – speak up – but don’t claim that the entire idea was yours unless it was – you will be found out. This is not the time to try to talk up your achievements beyond what they are
- Be honest – if it’s not true – then don’t say it. The number of people that I’ve interviewed over the years that tell me all about these fantastic things that they’ve done with product X and product Y, only to come unstuck when I start questioning them deeply about the claims they have made. I’ve had people try to tell me they know more about product X than I do – now I’m not saying that’s possible, but surely I would be interviewing to get a job for THEIR company if that was the case?
- Don’t claim to know it all – one of the things most people are afraid to say in an interview is that they do not know something. I walk into an interview knowing that I do not know everything and I’m looking for the person to say much the same. If you claim to know it all you will get found out.
- Clarify the questions – if you do not understand a question – ask them to repeat it. If it’s still not clear then say you are not sure about the question. Ask them to reword the question too if you need to. Giving incorrect answers to questions can make you look silly if you have misunderstood the question in the first place.
- Be careful for dead ends – some interviewers might ask questions that lead you down a dead end path – they ask them to see if you are being truthful or not.
- Don’t discuss salary until near the end – I’ve noticed that people that want to talk about salary right up front in the interview, are normally not the ones we hire as they are more focused on the money than the job itself. These people tend not to last too long at all. Salary discussions are really only appropriate if both parties are feeling like there is a good fit. Also – it may be that not all the people in the interview will be on the same salary as you – some may be lower than you and therefore you need to understand where you fit. This comes back to point 3 above.
They are a few of my tips for the Interview process – it’s actually been over 15 years since I was on “the other side” of the desk so to speak as I’ve been running my own businesses for so long, so that gives you an idea of the things we employers are looking for. I hope this helps some of you