Preparation Pet Peeves from the Candidate Perspective
So many people show up for an interview unprepared – at either side of the interview desk. It is as important for the representatives of the hiring company to make a good impression, as it is for the job applicant. In this two part piece, I’ll share some tips for both sides of the interview to be more professional in the interview setting:
For the Interviewer:
Be punctual! Don’t make the candidate sit more than a few minutes after the interview was scheduled to start. It makes a terrible first impression about the company, and you. Nothing is worse than leaving a candidate parked in a lobby or conference room minutes after the interview was supposed to start. You set up the interview, so you have an obligation to that person for that time. If you are going to be a few minutes late, let the receptionist know to tell them when they walk in the door. If you know in advance you’ll be 15 or more minutes late, you should attempt to let them know before they arrive.
Be prepared! When you walk into the interview without their resume, or calling them by the wrong name, you’re telling the candidate that this is a company that isn’t worth dealing with. Have their resume in hand, have some idea what their past experience is, and know who you’re about to sit down with. Obviously you have a need to make a hire, and you can’t afford to alienate someone who could be a significant asset to your company. Just as their personal tragedies/problems are not your problem, they shouldn’t be expected to take second place to yours while interviewing. Having a cursory knowledge of who they are and what they’ve done shows respect to the candidate.
Be clear! Don’t ask questions that are extremely vague. It is not the candidates fault if they give you answers you don’t care about, because your question was all over the map and lacked direction. Also, don’t ask questions that could appear to be angled to get information about their age, religion, political beliefs, sexuality, etc. “Are you married?”, “Do you have kids?”, “Do you have anyone at home that might be upset if you are required to work late on occasion” are not acceptable questions. If you want to know if someone is able to work late, simply ask, “This position occasionally requires a late night or overtime. Is that going to be an issue for you?”
Don’t check your email, cell phone, etc. while in the interview. When you do that, you’re signaling to the applicant that what they say is not important, and for all they know you could be checking Facebook or making dinner plans. If there is a critical situation that you need to keep up with during the interview, show them the courtesy of a brief explanation in advance “I’m sorry, but I have a situation that may require my attention a few times while we meet. I wanted to let you know, so you don’t think I’m being rude.” Or, if you’re taking notes via an electronic device, a short explanation at the beginning of the interview will put the candidate at ease. People will understand these explanations, and it will save them getting anxious thinking they are blowing the interview, not knowing what you’re doing as they speak.
If you promise communication (additional interview, job offer, or declination), then honor your word. There is nothing worse than having a great interview, being told you will hear back in X number of days, and then weeks pass with no word. I had an interview a few years ago, where I was told I would hear back within a week. 2 months later I got a job offer, which I declined because I had accepted another offer in the interim. I let the hiring manager know that unfortunately after a few weeks passed by without hearing back I accepted a job offer elsewhere. If they had told me they were delayed in their decision making, I would have at least known to contact them before accepting an offer.
Check out Part Two where I discuss measures candidates can take to make sure they are interviewing like a pro and increasing their chances of getting hired.
What additional tips or preparation pet peeves do you have for interviewers? Share in the comments below.
Ryan Wilson-Foley PMP, is a career project manager across multiple industries, including prior experience as an RPO Project/Program Manager for Fortune 500 clients. He was also a casualty of the economic crisis and a ‘career’ job hunter while on a 28 month bout of unemployment. His wealth of experience in hiring and managing people, as well as job hunting, leads him to have more experience with the interview process than many HR professionals combined (or so he insists on telling people.) He’s also a Gemini and a genius baker.