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Don’t People Know How to Interview? Frustrations from an Interviewer

Today I was part of an interview panel for a director position in our tribal government.  This position is very important to the health and welfare of families, especially children who are abused and/or neglected.  When our Human Resources Department advertised for the position it clearly set out that this was a director level position, the salary level, duties/responsibilities, and minimum qualifications.  Since the Council hires all director positions, the top six candidates were submitted for an interview with us and let me tell you I was really disappointed.

My disappointment and frustration stemmed from that either many of the applicants barely met the minimum qualifications and had no clue of how to answer basic questions regarding the positions, to candidates who called and asked that their interview be rescheduled because they didn’t feel up to an interview, to how some of the people dressed for the interview.  Based on these three things that occurred I’m going to give my opinion on same basic tips if you are going to interview for a job (I know that there are others, but these three issues really bothered me).

  1. Know the Position You are Interviewing For. I think that one of the main things that drive me crazy is when a person is interviewing and has no clue about the organization, what the job details, and can’t even answer basic questions about a position.  If your answer to a large amount of the questions is going to be “I don’t have any experience or knowledge of that area” then maybe this isn’t the right position for you.
  2. Attend Your Interview. Most people who are interviewing people have busy schedules and have set aside time to be a part of the process so plan on going to your interview (if you are actually qualified).  This means being there at least 15 minutes before your scheduled time (not at the exact time or a few minutes after).  If you are doing your interview by phone make sure you have a good connection and not driving on the road.  If your interview is done over the Internet (like Skype) be sure you know how to use the program and can troubleshoot connection issues (don’t try to fix the problem when we contact you or expect our IT Department to get on the phone with you to configure your computer).  I understand that sometimes emergencies come up and you may need to ask to be rescheduled, but make sure it is an emergency not just cause you are not up to interviewing that day or you couldn’t make arrangements (child care, transportation, etc.) to attend.
  3. Dress for the Interview. You would think that this is common knowledge among interviewees, but I guess not.  It doesn’t matter if you are interviewing in person or via the Internet, if you are going to be seen by the interviewer (a single person or a panel), please (No, PLEASE) try to dress in an appropriate manner, especially for a higher management level position.  Coming into an interview wearing sweats or a T-shirt with questionable imagery/language doesn’t create a positive opinion of you (even if you have the best answers in the world).  First impressions are very important so if you want to be treated like a viable candidate for position, try to dress the part.

I don’t know everyone else’s opinion on this subject, but when I spend nearly 4 hours sitting in a conference room waiting on people to show up, or show up and either have no idea what the job entails, or who look like they just got out of bed, don’t expect to be getting a call back either asking for a follow-up interview or a job offer.  When I spend more time talking with our interview panel about what’s going on versus actually talking and meeting with candidates, something is wrong.

And in the end – after four hours of sitting around in a non-productive session – we had to decide to go back and re-advertise the position.  I was wondering if there are other people in positions who make hiring decisions face some of the same things that I went through today and how they try to address this to try to get quality applicants?  For me I would rather have a small group of quality interviewees rather than a large group of non-qualified people.  Okay this ends my pet peeve blog for today and I hope to hear from anyone who has faced or is facing the same thing I just went though.

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