15 min read
What keywords and phrases do you associate hiring interviews with?
Dreaded. Awkward. Fumbling. Rambling. Memory lapses. Should I have said/not said that? Kick yourself later…
Welcomed. Curious. Confidence. A good connect. Humor. Conversation about things not just work. Think I so nailed it!
I have taken several interviews – from both sides of the table. Actually there should be no table (I'll come to that later). In recent years, I have only been the interviewer – this post draws from nearly all my experiences in technology companies.
This process has come a long way since the days of excessive formality, over-eagerness, pleading behavior, defensiveness, and intimidation. Nothing from what you saw in those old movies or TV shows applies in progressive companies these days. Now, it’s like both – candidates and employer – are out shopping for each other.
For you, the candidate:
Don’t. Ever. Be. Late.
Be on time, no excuses – in the age of Google – for problems with directions, come on. I can’t tell you how much this puts off hiring managers – it’s the worst possible first impression. I don’t like it when the recruiting folks tell me the candidate is not in yet/on her way/lost her way/her ride was late/too sunny outside…
Do your homework about the company. Know their business, and likely competition as you see it. Look up their web site thoroughly, scour all their social media accounts. Find out who else works there – you just may find a connection.
In your résumé, state upfront what you can do for your prospective employer – clearly. Try to describe past experiences in just a few lines. Save the rest for the conversation. Let the questions come.
Your prospective employer does NOT need your social security, tax identification, and passport numbers, as well as your date of birth, gender, and similar personal information on the résumé. If/when they get you on-board, or plan to send you abroad, they’ll ask you.
Be sure to give an accurate timeline of your experience until now. And be discreet on social media ahead of the discussion. It’s actually always good to be that – discreet.
Keep your questions ready, and take notes as you have your discussion with your prospective employers. Sound informed, and eager to learn. Do not fumble. Be prepared to confidently answer the question – ‘what do you think we do as a business?’.
When samples of your work – projects, something that you presented or wrote – are requested, send in something original. Do not plagiarize. It probably takes a minute to find out, if you indeed did that.
Ask why the position has become available. This is often missed, and it shows you are thinking about the organization’s need to fill a vacancy, or a new role.
Request an accompanied walk around after the discussion, if that’s possible – get a sense for the organization, and show you’re interested in knowing about the place.
Get the hiring person’s contact information, and write a thank you note (recruitment/HR people included) that references some of the talking points. This will help them recall you, as they meet many prospective team members.
If it didn’t work out after the discussion, ask why it didn’t. No harm there.
Photo by Amy Hirschi on Unsplash
As for you, the hiring team member:
Don’t. Be. Late.
Be on time! Be there sooner than the candidate, or send in a competent person to keep them engaged. Do not keep the prospect waiting, much like you’d not do this for your customers.
Smile. Keep it conversational than an interrogation. Let your candidate relax.
Avoid having a table as a barrier in between. Find a couch or sofa. Walk around on an office terrace, an open area, or use the cafeteria if that’s comfortable in quieter hours.
Be sure to have read the résumé, with some ready questions scribbled in. Do not give the impression that you’re looking at it for the first time. Look like you showed some interest ahead.
It’s okay to gently call out sloppiness, like a blank page in the middle of a résumé, or a misspelled organization name. But do not be hard on grammar and wording, if it’s not relevant to your particular department
Ask why they’re interested, and how they came to know about your organization. Inquire about gaps between work experiences, and about frequent changes.
Sell your team and the organization in a subtle way – why is this a great place to work, showcase the place’s internal culture, and any benefits or activities that you think would be of interest to the prospective hire.
After talking about their achievements and challenges faced, throw in a couple of curveball questions to gauge their line of thinking. Smile when doing this, for there aren’t any right answers to these. Something like:
‘Elon Musk said we're probably living in a computer simulation – what did you think that meant? Your thoughts?’
Ask for an explanation from one of those weird scenes from ‘Interstellar’ (assuming they have seen and recall the movie)
‘How would you explain the internet to a 15th century farmer?’
Try to avoid rounds of meetings with different people spaced out across hours and days even. The candidate has likely taken time off from something else for this meeting. Close the discussions within half a day. You can take your time evaluating and compare notes with others that met the prospect, later.
Give your candidate a time-frame for some sort of response from the organization – favorable or not.
And please have your recruiting team not use the word ‘rejected’ in communications with candidates. Ever. Lose that word internally as well. Go with something to the effect of ‘not a fit at this time, please stay in touch’, with thanks.
Very clearly, this is a two-way process. Both the candidate and the employer are evaluating if they are a fit for each other. It all has to be handled gracefully, without being judgmental.
You never know when both sides will have an encounter again – for hiring reasons or otherwise.
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