Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Art of Not Botching an Interview

For a few years, I've been involved in interviewing college students for positions at our company.  So, each spring I trudge off to a local college and spend a day conducting interviews.  Most of the interviews are quite routine, but there are the occasional odd balls (such as, a student who spent the entire interview ragging on her fellow classmate or the student who asked at the end of the interview, "is this a paid position?"  Really!?!  You know so much about this position that you have to ask whether it's a paid position? ).

Last school year, I interviewed  a student who knew so much about me, I was incredibly uncomfortable.  By the end of the interview, I halfway expected her to say, "By the way, I like the new paint color you chose for your kitchen" or mention something about my upcoming menstrual cycle.  Needless to say, she didn't get a job offer.

A week or two after the interview, I was at the college for an evening event and caught a glimpse of the student lurking across the courtyard as I attempted to enter the gymnasium.  I tried to stay out of her line of sight until I could safely navigate my way inside the building.  I was not successful.  All of a sudden, all 200 pounds of her 5-foot 3-inch frame came hurdling towards me with her arms outstretched for a bear hug.  I panicked.  Uhhhh.  I'm not even a person who likes exchanging hugs with my close friends, let alone creepy stalkers who only know because I interviewed them.  Plus, I had no idea whether she had received her rejection letter yet or if she thought she was still in the running for a position.

Not wanting to be rude, I begrudgingly hugged her back.  After exchanging "hello"s and "how are you?"s she got right to the heart of the matter and started badgering me about where the company was at on making a hiring decision.  I didn't have the heart to tell her that she would not be receiving a job offer and would, instead, receive her rejection notice soon.  So I made excuses about still having more candidates to interview and tried to break free from the conversation as quickly as I could.

Yesterday, I was at the school again.  It never crossed my mind that I'd run into stalker chick on my visit (hadn't she graduated?).  Imagine my surprise when out of the corner of my eye, here she comes sprinting towards me.  My cat-like reflexes kicked in and I quickly extended by hand as far as possible.  Fortunately, stalker chick took the hint and shook my hand rather than trying to go in for a hug (although perhaps the rejection letter was a bit of an indication that we weren't best friends).  After rushing through a few pleasantries, she told me that she had an interview at another company later that week, and then she went straight for the jugular.  "I still don't know why I didn't get a job with your company?  I mean, did I do something wrong?  Well, I guess you interviewed a lot of qualified candidates and I guess some of them might be better than me.  I just don't get it."

"Oh boy," I thought to myself, and gave some flat answers about it being a competitive market and us only have two available spots for the large number of applicants we received.  I left it at that and tried to gracefully excuse myself from the conversation as soon as possible, but not before she said, "Well, I guess I got to know you guys for nothing!" (apparently referring to others in my office she had met throughout the interview process).  "Not for nothing," I thought.  "You'll know go down in history as one of my craziest interviewees.  And, I thank you for that!"

So, the take away messages?  If you don't want to botch your interview, don't be a creeper.

1 comment:

  1. I interviewed a very young candidate once, who demonstrated just how immature he was by showing up half an hour early to the interview and wearing a ball cap through the whole thing. Later, he was confused as to why he didn't get the position. I did the same thing: said something vague about how we interviewed lots of qualified candidates, etc-- and I've always kind of regretted it. That kid was at the start of his working career, and if I'd told him gently and honestly how he'd put me off, I might have done him a real service. Oh, well! Live and learn...