All in a day’s work: How not to get butchered at an interview.

by madamsbob

via Flickr

I was requested to be present at an interview and ask a couple of questions earlier this week. I was told that this was an entry level position and the candidate was a recent college graduate. I would be in charge of the basics: the opening and competency questions.

There were five interviewers in the room including me. There was:
W – The Exec Manager of the team,
X – The Director of the department,
Y – The R&D analyst,
Z – The Database guru and
Me – The hot R&D developer 🙂

We expected the candidate to show up around 11, so we discussed how we should attack him. He looked fabulous on paper; an Ivy League grad, perfect GPA, Honors student, extensive research experience and a remarkable set of internships. While I was finding ways to actually help him through this interview, we heard a knock on the conference room door.

Our candidate walked in clad in jeans and a black and silver button-down shirt. He was, to all our surprise, still wearing sunglasses when he entered the door. When he saw us, carelessly waved, took his glasses off and flashed a toothy smile. He then had the audacity to point to his attire and say, “I apologize. I thought it was casual Friday.”

X replied, rather vexed, “We do not have “casual Fridays” here.”

He did not bother shaking any of our hands in order to introduce himself. So, we went around the table introducing ourselves for him. As the interview went underway and as we got the formalities out of our way, we felt that there was something amiss. Every time we asked a question, he delivered either a monotonous response or a careless one.

Me: Why did you decide to apply for a _________ position at ***?
Him: I just wanted to see what you guys were up to.

Me: What makes you think you are qualified for this position?
Him: You have a copy of my resume outlining my qualifications. What makes you think I wouldn’t be qualified?

Me: We have over a hundred applicants for this position, what sets you apart from them?
Him: I have a rather relaxed personality. I tend to get along with everyone…

I felt like I was talking to a high school student. I stopped paying attention to him. As he blabbered on about how wonderful his character is and how we would be lucky if we hired him, I could not help but catch W, Y and Z shaking their heads. X, however, had already made his decision. He had closed the interview manual that he had handed out to us before the candidate waltzed in. He was fiddling his thumbs and looking at his watch.

The interviewee interrupted Y and me when we started asking him technical questions. He sighed, gasped and even pointed at us when he answered the questions. He then asked Z how many years of programming experience he had and what exactly he was currently working on at the moment.

The bottom line is, there is a very fine line between being confident and cocky. For many, it might take years to hone their skills in order to differentiate themselves between the two. For others, it may come naturally.

So, when the candidate asked us what we felt about his responses and what he could improve on, X interjected all of us and said, “Do you know why each of these fine people you see before you are here? They made a lasting impression on us. They were respectful, they were polite when they met their future coworkers and they were unpretentious in their qualifications.” He stood up and walked towards the door as we sat bewildered. He then added, “And they sure as hell were worth my time when I bothered to interview them.”

2 Comments to “All in a day’s work: How not to get butchered at an interview.”

  1. I am agog. What was this fool thinking?! It just goes to show what arrogance is capable of. It sounds like going to an Ivy was just one of many excellent things to happen in his life, and excellent things are the norm, they come easily. Why shouldn’t they? He’s clearly excellent, didn’t you read his resume?

  2. Some people subscribe to the school of thought that when you go into the interview you are supposed to act as if you do not need or want the job and that you would be doing them a favor by accepting a job position at their place of business. This might work for some people who know the difference between confidence and arrogance, but the problem with this idea of going into interviews like this is that most people (like this guy) have no idea what that difference is and they just end up coming off arrogant, rude, and irritating. If you don’t know that difference, you should not apply this method of interview “tactic,” but what do you expect from “intellectual idiots?” :p

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