Thursday, February 10, 2011

Fly on the wall: how I witnessed an interview

I am typing this up as I am sitting in a Starbucks café in Castellana next to IE. I positioned myself in my favorite corner, set down my order, pulled out my laptop and inadvertently overheard a conversation among three people sitting right in front of me. OK, eavesdropping is bad, but here I had no other choice: those were sitting right in front of my nose, so the best I could do was to pretend uninterested and engrossed in my own stuff. Thus, clicking away and sipping on what turned out to be an atrociously watered down americano, I realized that I was listening to an interview in a sort of typical setting: an interviewer, a candidate and an observer (maybe a line manager?) who did not say much throughout the whole process. I should say I genuinely enjoyed the experience. For once I was able to be outside of the interview, being neither on the one or the other side of the fence, and, goodness gracious!, every single one should be granted such a marvelous opportunity in their lives - to be a fly on the wall.

The interviewer was good. I mean... really good. Professionally dressed, nice posture, slightly leaning forward, taking notes, but still keeping the eye contact, constantly reaffirming that she is listening, probing... I wish I could film that encounter to show later as an example of good interviewing skills.

The guy across the table, however, evidently was not accustomed to going through rounds of uncomfortable questions very often. Here are just a few examples of what I observed in his behavior that would raise some flags for me:

  • Talking too much and too quickly. His style came across as selling. It was so obvious that he was trying to convince the lady in his own worth, that I started wondering whether he himself believed in it.
  • Too much gesticulation. It is important to use hands to emphasize a point, but doing it all the time takes away the importance of gestures, dilutes the message and after a while becomes increasingly annoying (no pointing fingers in the direction of the Italian boot-shaped piece of land...).
  • Overgeneralizing. Saying things like "I see myself as being a great success in the Latin American market" is not enough. Give details, facts, examples, names - something that would corroborate your statement, then they are fine. If the recruiter has to probe you on those broad declaration and, to make matters worse, you don't have a convincing argument at hand -> too bad.
  • Having no questions. The interviewing lady asked at the end if the candidate had any questions, and he (foolishly?) replied in the negative. Normally it means one of the two: (1) you are unprepared, i.e. you have done nothing to find out more about the company, the person himself/herself, the job, etc., or (2) your level of intelligence does not extend further than the limited scope of your work and ABC News.
As I came to observe the process quite late, I could not comment on how the conversation started and developed, but the 10 minutes that I witnessed were enough for me (even without the need to ask anything) to figure out that the guy was not getting the job. Why? The level of the recruiter's professionalism indicated that she comes from a serious executive search agency or a large company (later I found out she flew in from London for this interview), and the level of answers and the nature of behavior of the candidate demonstrated that he was not up for the challenge. 

What if start frequenting lobbies of posh hotels and observe various interviews? You won't believe how many interviews are taking place in settings like that! I was interviewed in hotel lobbies on a number of occasions, particularly because I used to travel a lot. I think that would be a cool idea for a book, no?

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts with Thumbnails