…..the 30 minute disaster

This is a message for any candidate interviewing for a job as well as any hiring authority interviewing candidates. Over the past few months, since the pandemic forced lots of organizations to interview candidates via some kind of video technology, it has become popular for people to interview candidates for 30 minutes.

It appears to be that among many other unintended consequences about video interviewing, people think that they can accomplish a thorough interview in 30 minutes. It’s very rare for in person interviews to ever only last 30 minutes. But for some reason, the 30 minute video interview is perceived to be effective. Let me tell you, IT ISN”T!

In fact, they’ve turned out to be a disaster, especially for candidates. It seems like these 30 minute interviews are more prominent when candidates go beyond the first or second interview. Three times this week, three different candidates of mine had their final interview with three different CEOs. All of them seemed totally hurried. One of them lasted 40 minutes and the second one lasted 45 minutes. In both cases the candidates told me that, once the interview got to 30 minutes, the CEO, in both cases seemed hurried, distracted and really wasn’t listening at all. The third interview was abruptly stopped by the CEO because she said she had to move to another meeting. My candidate said that he was in the middle of a sentence, answering one of her questions when the CEO stopped the interview. All three candidates were totally disappointed because they were not only interviewed poorly, but felt dismissed. None of the candidates got hired.

These situations made me look back over the last six months and I have come to the conclusion that candidates should not agree to 30 minute video interviews. Interviewing or hiring authorities should not insist upon this type of interviewing either. I’m absolutely convinced that it’s unfair to everyone.

In all three of these situations the candidates were absolutely stellar. One of our hiring authorities in one of these situations has been trying to hire someone for three months. He’s interviewed more than 20 candidates and he was absolutely convinced our candidate was the very best one that he saw. The candidate had gone through three other management interviews and all of those managers claimed he was stellar. But the interview with the CEO was so bad, the CEO told the hiring manager he shouldn’t hire the candidate. The CEO really didn’t give much of a reason as to why he rejected the candidate, but he didn’t want to hire him. The candidate said that the conversation was so hurried and disjointed, he didn’t even think the CEO knew who he was talking to. The CEO admitted that he didn’t have the candidate’s resume in front of him and didn’t even offer to look at his LinkedIn profile. The hiring manager was furious. He even asked, through his superior, if the candidate could interview with the CEO again. The answer was no. (The hiring authority is now so frustrated, he sent me his resume.)

The other two interviews were just as bad. Another unintended consequence of video interviews is that hiring and interviewing authorities for some reason, get terribly distracted by the background of the candidates video environment. I’ve had a phenomenal number of candidates disqualified because the interviewing or hiring authority thought the background of the candidate’s video environment was distracting or in bad taste. One employer disqualified one candidate because he had comic books on his bookshelf. Another one eliminated a female candidate because her earrings were too big and distracting. Another female candidate was eliminated because she interviewed with a bed behind her and the interviewing authority thought it was “too intimate.”  With in person interviews, I can’t remember anybody ever complaining about “the background.”

So it appears that 30 minute video interviews are to no one’s advantage. Keep in mind that this has been going on since the pandemic, but I’m just now realizing what the disadvantages of these kinds of interviews are. So, I’m going to share this with all of the employers that think they want to do a 30 minute video interview and I’m going to tell my candidates to try not to agree to a 30 minute video interview. As with the “background” phenomenon there’s something about a short, 30 minute video that is inherently poor.

One thing is certain. Person to person interviews would rarely last only 30 minutes. Very little information can be exchanged or understood in only 30 minutes. And that would be true for even a person-to-person interview. The medium of video interviewing seems to accept the idea that a thorough interview can be given in 30 minutes. It can’t.

So, on either side of the desk, please don’t perform a 30 minute interview. They are to no one’s advantage.



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