Do’s and Don’ts for Job Interviews

We recently had some interesting experiences with job interviews as the result of a new hire. 

One of the candidates for the communications coordinator position was a young man with extensive experience in online technology. He arrived on time and strode into the interview room dressed in a nifty suit and tie. He started off strong exuding confidence and calm as he shook hands with each of us. Unfortunately from there it was all downhill.

He proceeded to talk at us non-stop about totally unrelated experiences failing to engage anyone on the interview team. When asked his opinion about our website, a key vehicle for any communications coordinator, he admitted he hadn’t looked at. After his answers to the first few questions told us he was clearly off base, we put him out of his misery by actually ending the interview prematurely, something I’ve never had to do, gently suggesting it was clear there wasn’t a fit. 

He was a great example of someone who hadn’t done his homework about our organization. Although perhaps not intentionally he had clearly conveyed to us that he wasn’t serious.

The experts suggest research should be your first step once you land an interview as you need to be prepared to answer questions about why you would want to work for us, make the interview more interactive, and to better determine a fit. Reviewing a website and even googling to find out more is also a good idea.

Another candidate for the same position came in with the strongest and one of the most innovative resumes I’ve seen. In it she had marketed herself extraordinarily well and had even threaded throughout the pages quotes attesting to her skills and abilities.

Charming and clearly intelligent, she managed to convey energy, passion and creativity during the interview but not a whole lot of the organizational skills we knew were essential for balancing the many aspects of the position.
During the interview she spread her notebook, water bottle, and papers across the table, took a number of her answers to our questions off tangent, and eventually took another 10 minutes interviewing us with six or seven of her own questions. Additionally, while her eclectic background was one of her strongest assets, she hadn’t brought in any samples of her work to more clearly demonstrate her abilities.

To her credit, she sent a thank you after the interview and by then, knowing she didn’t get the job, also asked for feedback.  Feeling she truly had potential I did make the time to follow up with her by phone and share our impressions. She was grateful for the feedback as she had been genuinely perplexed by her ability to get the interview but never the job. One of the suggestions I had made was for her to develop a portfolio of her work that would more clearly convey her talents and success.  She emailed me several weeks later to tell me she had completed her portfolio after working on it for the better part of a week. She credited it with helping her land a plumb job with a local corporation. 

While I’m still not sure she would have been the right fit for our position, she definitely has talent and we’ve since hired her to do some freelance writing. 

The young woman we eventually did hire came in to the interview with a strong educational and workplace background, samples of her work, excellent references, and a calm and confident presence far beyond her years. And yes, she had viewed our website and learned a lot about our organization beforehand.  During her interview she also managed to convey her strong work ethic, organizational skills, and passion for the position. Ultimately she did what everyone needs to do during a job interview – she sold both herself and her fit with the position we needed to fill.

Posted on 05-17-09

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