Interviewing is a stage contrived event. There’s really nothing like it that goes on in business. But, as is said about democracy, it sucks, but it is the best we’ve got. The most unfortunate thing about interviewing is that, no matter how extensive it is, it really measures the person’s ability to interview rather than their ability to perform on a job.
It really doesn’t do any good to complain about this, because we all know in our hearts, both interviewing and hiring authorities, as well as candidates, that things are not going to change. A person’s ability to get a job and a person’s ability to perform on the job are really two different things. So, that’s why it’s so important for both parties, but especially candidates, perform well in interviewing situations.
The major fact about the interviewing process is that a decision may be made on one or two maybe small issues or factors or, most importantly, answers. I will admit that this is not fair. But life isn’t fair. We have to learn to recognize this factor and deal with it.
What brought this to mind was that this week, not just one, but two of my candidates made pretty major mistakes in the interviewing process. The first mistake was made when the candidate answered a question…just one question… totally wrong because he really didn’t understand the question. His answer had nothing to do with what was on the mind of the interviewing authority. According to the hiring manager, the answer was wrong, because the candidate didn’t seem to really understand or grasp the question. This is not an uncommon occurrence. Candidates are nervous and so anxious to make a good impression, they often “jump the gun,” and answer to what they “think” the question is.
To make matters worse, the candidate went on and on with the wrong answer. According to the hiring authority, he stopped the candidate and restated the question. Unfortunately, the candidate was now so flustered realizing that he had answered the question the wrong way and became even more nervous and stumbled through what was a better answer but unfortunately he delivered it so poorly, the employer quit listening and pretty much wrote the candidate off.
The second incident had to do with a young but very intelligent candidate. Her “whoooooooooooooops” was that the hiring authority, near the end of the interview, asked if she had any questions. According to her, he seemed like he was in a great big hurry and even asked it in a rather dismissive manner. Admittedly, she has not prepared any questions for the hiring authority, but she was smart enough to be able to come up with them, but was thrown so off guard by what she perceived to be his being in a big hurry, she hesitated and nervously said that she couldn’t think of any right then.
Up until then she’d been doing very well in the interview. But, as happens often, the hiring manager kept getting hung up on the fact that she had no questions. A person would not have to be much of a mental giant to know that any, even an average candidate, is probably going to have some questions about the job. Unfortunately, the employer was also distracted by other things as well as having interviewed a number of other candidates and basically dismissed the candidate. She was actually one of the best candidates that he interviewed, but he made his total decision on one issue.
The major lesson in this is that decisions about considering a candidate are very often made on very small issues. You’ve got to remember that psychologically negative events have four times the impact that positive events do. Negative issues always get more attention than positive issues do.
We will discuss next week the major way for candidates to deal with whoooooooooooooooooops. But a candidate has to be aware that what might seem to be minor mistakes to a candidate can cost them consideration.
This is why practicing interviewing and developing smooth interview skills are so important.