Earlier I wrote an article about improving your resume. I'm no expert, just a person who spent a lot of time last year searching for a new job, and now am allowed to screen resumes for a new position on our team. The next step in the process of filling the position at work, is to interview applicants.
Last week my manager stopped by my desk and asked if I wanted to sit in on an interview with a candidate for a contractor position on our team. I hadn't even seen this person's resume, as my manager had received it that morning from the recruiter and "since he already has an interview with another group, could you just meet with him? He is really highly qualified for your position." (That's what the contract company recruiter put in the email to my manager.)
So, we went into the interview not having had the opportunity to review the resume. As my manager started asking questions, I looked through the resume. The candidate had a wide breadth of experience, but I didn't see some of the particular skills we were looking for, and the mentions I did see where mentioned as if they were not a primary skill. I probably would not have picked this person to interview if I had been given advanced notice.
As my manager asked questions, it became apparent that the candidate wasn't comfortable, and didn't have the skills we were looking for. I feel sorry for the candidate, because I've been in tough interviews before, and it is not fun. However, instead of keeping his cool and answering the best he could, this candidate really started to blow this interview.
Here are a few things this candidate did that guaranteed we were not going to call him back:
- The candidate didn't know what position he was interviewing for! I know his recruiter probably told him that he was going to interview for a data modeler position, and "oh, since you are there this other manager is also looking to fill a position, so why don't you speak with him as well?" While I was searching for a job, I made sure I researched the positions I was interviewing for. I even turned down an interview because when I found out what the position was, I knew I wasn't qualified for it.
- The candidate gave vague answers. When asked a question we don't know the answer to, we have all most likely given a vague answer to try and probe the answer out of the interviewer. I would have much preferred that the candidate gave an answer like, "I never used that command before, but I usually have some cheat sheets of commands that I collect as needed." However, he hemmed and hawed around and never really gave us any answer to several questions we asked.
- Some of the answers he gave us had nothing to do with the question we asked. This might be more of #2, but a better way to handle this situation would be to ask the interviewer to rephrase the question or indicate that he didn't understand the question.
- He was actually argumentative! This one blew me away and guaranteed that I wasn't interested in having him on our team. When the candidate was stuck on a question he didn't understand, he not only gave a vague and general answer, but when asked to be more specific, he actually said, "You asked a general question so I gave a general answer" and a few times interrupted my manager as he tried to clarify what we wanted to hear. I understand that people are nervous during interviews, but there is never an excuse to start arguing with the interviewer.
After this interview was over my manager and I knew it had not gone well. My manager actually said, "I wanted to be courteous to him and let him talk, but I didn't want to just boot him out." It was painful to watch this candidate struggle through this interview. He obviously didn't have time to prepare for this interview, and wasn't qualified for the position we were seeking to fill. I would have much preferred for him to have said to us, "I'm sorry, but I don't think I have the skills that you are looking" rather than have us waste our time and his on this interview.