THE interview game

I will be the first to say that this game SUCKS!  I could say more but it would be crude.  The whole job search deal sucks!  Trust me, it sucks for everyone!  Just think about it in terms of dating…  what if there was an easy way to find that the person that is RIGHT for you.  You know, THE ONE, your soul mate.  You would pay big money for that, right?  Companies are wanting and willing to do the same, sometimes.  They are always looking to build a better mousetrap.

The wrong hire costs a company anywhere from 30% to 120% of the first income.  Don’t believe me?  How about the effect the person you are dating has on your friends?  If the person you are dating is NOT the right person they may make your friends angry, drive them away, make you sad, all of this can lead to your life being negatively affected.  We have all been there.

Plus, let’s look at it from your side.  Do you REALLY want a company to hire you if you are not a good match?  I read news all the time about how employees are not happy at work.  Forbes just did an article about it last year stating that over 50% of Americans are unhappy at work.  Not to mention all the people that piss and moan about how unfulfilling their work is.  But time and time again I get candidates who get mad when we don’t hire them.  I know that sometimes you just need a job, any job, to pay the bills.  But here is the bottom line… companies are not cool with that.

Let’s look at another analogy.  What if you only believed that sex should be withing a marriage or at least in a committed relationship.  You are single so you are hosed.  Would it be fair to the other person if you found someone that you knew you could date, woo and then marry, all just to have sex with them? All this knowing that you didn’t really like the person that much, but what the heck, they have a nice body, right?

So, what do companies do to try and find THE right person.  Well, they do a lot.  I am not going to mention the requirements THE MAH (the government) puts on companies here but I will in a future post.  Here is a partial list of the mousetraps:

  • Use headhunters and agencies to find candidates.
  • Online application processes that are arduous – Only people that REALLY want the position will stick it out. (I do not think this is a good thing all the time.)
  • Testing – If tests REALLY worked then your GPA in school would better predict success in your career.
  • Multiple interviews with multiple people.
  • Different styles of interviewing – hypothetical/situational, behavioral, traditional, case, puzzle, task oriented, stress, and presentation.
  • Different types of interviews: lunch/dinner,  phone, face to face, video-conference, panel, round-robin, group, job shadowing, and career fairs.

So what does all of this leave us with?  One in three new hires will not last more than 18 months in their job.  But we keep trying and you, the mouse, keep getting caught by all these mousetraps.  I know it hurts, sorry.


One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation.
Arthur Ashe

Why did you break up?

If you start dating someone wouldn’t you wonder “why are you single?”  Guess what, companies wonder the same thing!

First, let’s admit the obvious…  there is no winning this battle.  If you are single there is obviously something wrong with you or you are too picky.  But if you are currently with someone AND open to dating then you are not trustworthy.

Lucky for you we are a little more flexible in business, but not much.  If you are unemployed then, yes, we are much more nervous about hiring you.  Why?  Because there are a lot of freaking jobs out there!  I read and hear about recruiters whining about how they cannot find employees.   I see “No Hiring” signs all over the place.  Yes, I get it.  Many of those jobs suck and if you take them then it is difficult to explain how you are not doing what you want to do.  I also get that many people have been shafted by THE MAN.  They have been laid off, the company sold or taken a huge pay cut.

Taking all this into account I strongly recommend that you put why you left each position on your resume.  Remember, don’t be little kid honest.  Why do I recommend this?  Because I, as a recruiter or hiring manager, will usually assume the worst.  No really, most hiring managers are some suspicious people.  So try and anticipate some of their questions and answer them.  Remember, the resume gets you the interview, the interviews get you the job.

The Man

Never lose yourself while trying to hold on to someone who doesn’t care about losing you.

YOU are THE MAN – soap box

Let me in on a conversation I have with my kids:

Me: Why can’t you buy that?
Kids: Because I don’t have a job.
Me: You don’t have a job because THE MAN is keeping you down.
Kids: Who is THE MAN?
Me: As soon as you figure it out you find out that YOU are THE MAN and you are keeping someone down.
Kids: Ugh!

But seriously almost all of us are part of THE MAN.  Take Wal-Mart for instance.  People bitch and complain about several things Wal-Mart does.  I have listed several below with some comments beside them.

  • Wal-Mart does not pay well – Do you want to pay more for the stuff at Wal-Mart?  How about you start tipping your Wal-Mart employees if you think they should make more.
  • Wal-Mart should provide better benefits – Remember your 401(k)?  I bet some of it is invested in Wal-Mart stock or something similar.  You OK with the price of that stock and thus your portfolio going down?
  • Wal-Mart does not buy much American made stuff – Again, you cool with paying more?  I am not going to even get into the argument that you are helping people in other countries escape extreme poverty.

Everything is a trade off.  What are you willing to do or give up to make a change?

The Man

You have two choices: do something about it or shut up and suck it up buttercup.
The Man

Do you want to date me or my friend?

When you apply with a company you need to learn about the company’s culture.  Some companies LOVE to promote within, others do not.  Even some companies that promote from within do have minimum timelines in each position before you get promoted.  This is very important to know before you get into the interview process.

Here is a scenario.  You apply for an entry level job in sales.  You tell them that you know they promote from within and you really want to get into HR.  Sounds good, right?  Not necessarily.  For a lot of companies they really want to promote from within but also within departments/divisions.

It is sort of like someone saying “I want to go out with you because you have some cute friends I would like to meet.”  See what I mean, no bueno.  So how do you handle it?  Ask something like “what is the traditional career path for someone who starts in this position?”

I am all for people going after goals but you also need to be patient.  Many employers are nervous about hiring people that are “over qualified” (by the way there is no way to be over qualified.  You are either qualified or not qualified) Why?  Because a lot of times they want to move up faster than the company normally allows and they become an issue.

The Man

The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do.
Walter Bagehot

Be honest, but not too honest

You know how people say “I love how honest children are?”  First, that is a LIE!  Secondly, how does that work for you when a child asks you very loudly “why is that person so fat?” or “are they a boy or a girl?”  No bueno!

As I have said, interviewing is like dating.  Do you REALLY want someone to be brutally honest on a date?  Maybe, but I think NOT.  Most people learn to filter the things that come out of their mouth but not everyone.  This is all about perspective.  Try to look at it from the employer’s perspective.

Here are some examples and the the dating analogies:

I want to work here because you have great benefits
Employer hears:  I want, I want, I want and I have not even really looked at the job enough to know if I will like it or be good at it.
Dating analogy:  I want to go out with you because your last girlfriend told me you bought her nice gifts.

I don’t like to do that, but I can do it if I have to.
Employer hears: I just really need any job I can get but I will keep looking for another job after I start.
Dating analogy: I will go our with you if you spend at least $300 on dinner.

I want to work here because I have done it before.
Employer hears: I am lazy and don’t want to be challenged.
Dating analogy: I just want a free meal and you are better than a night alone.

Why did you all get bad reviews on glassdoor?
Employer hears: I am an idiot who applies for a job that very likely sucks AND I always believe what other people say online.
Dating analogy: So, why did your last boyfriend dump you and why are you still single?

I am not saying that these are not valid reasons, questions or thoughts.  I am just saying don’t say them in an interview.  Also, when we ask “Why did you leave your last position?”  is a time to use tact and professionalism.  The answer “because my manager was a jerk” is not a good response, no matter how true it is.

The Man

You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth.
Col. Jessep, A Few Good Men

Feel my pain

OK, I totally get that looking for a job SUCKS!  No, really, I do.  I have been there and I am sure I will be there again.  I have been the one to apply for job after job for month after month with no responses, jerks.  I have had that phone interview that I knew wasn’t going to lead to a face to face.  I get it.

But you need to get something too, recruiting is TOUGH!  Look at it this way, if you wanted to find the Mr. or Mrs. right would you be really picky or would you just find someone who is close and say “let’s see how this goes”?  That is where a good recruiter is.  They want to find THE right person, not just a carbon-based life form that is not a total waste of oxygen.

How do we do that?  Some people “post and pray.”  The put the job on some job board and hope to find the right person.  That is like looking for the right one by going to Octoberfest, sitting at a table by yourself and waiting for the right person to stumble across you.  A good recruiter is a hunter.  They look EVERYWHERE for THE right person.  Online, networking, FB, LinkedIn, Twitter, the line at the grocery store, etc…  What that means is that you find a lot of Mr. and Mrs. not-so-rights.  Nothing personal, it’s not a match.  No, we are not saying that you are a looser and you suck.  We are actually saying that it is our opinion (more about this in a second) that if we hire you, you will not be happy or be able to do what we need you to do.  Do you REALLY want a job where you will be unhappy and suck at what you do?  I mean, other than the job you are in now 🙂

On to our “opinion.”  I have seen studies that say the best interview processes are only about 65% effective in choosing a successful candidate.  Yep, one in three people are bad hires and that is THE BEST interview processes.  The truth is that it is all just an educated guess.  But so is going to a Doctor for a diagnosis.

The Man

Be so good they can’t ignore you.
Steve Martin

How fast is too fast to say no?

I have mentioned it before that I try my best to let people know their status in the interview process as quickly as possible.  Sometimes that means that I email them the same day they apply.  Some people email me back thanking me for letting them know but many get mad.  If you ask someone out and they do not want to date you would you rather they say “let me think about it, I will let you know if a few days” or would you rather they say “I appreciate the offer but I am not interested?”  I would rather know right away so I can move on with my life.

There is one caveat to this.  If a candidate says something that is a no-go in an interview I don’t tell them we are not pursuing them till the next day.  What are the things that a candidate can say to make it a no-go?  I will cover that in a future post.  But it would awkward, to say the least, if in the middle of a phone or face to face interview I just said “I have decided that we are not going to move you forward in the interview process.  Have a nice day.”  This is the same as if on a date the other person decides that they do not want to go on another date with me I would still think it rude if they just got up and left.  I have heard stories of that happening but it is still not cool.

Remember, these are all rules of the game.  Don’t want to follow the rules?  Fine, but don’t get mad when you get a penalty.

The Man

Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play. It is bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of all rules and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence. In other words, it is war minus the shooting.
George Orwell

Looking for work is the toughest job there is

I have often said that looking for work is the toughest job there is.  Why?  Because you get more rejection than you do in sales.  Really, you do.  And the company/recruiter is not saying no to some product you are selling, they are saying they don’t want YOU.  It is like asking someone out and them turning you down, NO BUENO!

But it is all in the perception.  I would encourage you to make a game of it, as many sales people do.  I knew a student who papered their walls (back in the era of snail mail rejection letters) with companies’ no thank you letters.  They used it for motivation.  It was his way of saying “I will prove you wrong.”  Which of course you say to yourself but should only be spoken in certain circumstances.

  • How to make it a game?  Set goals each day:
  • How many jobs are you going to find that may be a match for you?
  • How many people will you connect with on LinkedIn/Twitter? (only professional connections count)
  • How many status updates or tweets will you send surrounding career related topics?

The list can go on and on.  For instance, if you want to work at E&Y I would follow some E&Y people on Twitter, follow the company and link with them on LinkedIn.  Then, periodically post relevant stuff and have them in the post.  But keep in positive.  Buzzsumo is a great place to find content on a relevant topic or set up a Google alert.

The Man

A goal without a plan is just a wish.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Don’t get angry

One thing that I do my best to do it to let every candidate know where they are in the selection process as soon as I know.  On the surface that sounds good but I am amazed by the amount of people that get very, very angry when I email them to let them know we are not moving them forward in the interview process.  I think many people feel that we should interview EVERYONE that applies.  That would be like saying you have to go on at least one date with EVERYONE that wants to go on a date with you and guess what, you get to pay.  Yep, even that creepy person who has been staring at you in line at Starbucks.  Oh, you didn’t notice them since you were on your phone the whole time but the are there.  I know what you think, that is not that many people.  Really?  I receive anywhere from 5 to 100 applicants a day.

So how would you handle it if it was just five people that asked you out every day?  You would probably tell a lot of the no, correct?  So, assuming that you would not take five people out on a date everyday, how would you decide who to take on a date and who not to take on a date?  Here are some possible things you would look at along with comments that candidates say when recruiters use similar criteria in the selection process.

  • What they are wearing.  How shallow of you, what I wear has no bearing on who I am as a person.
  • What they do for a job.  Just because I do that to pay the bills, that should not affect how you judge me.
  • How many people they have dated and how long they date each of them.  It really wasn’t my fault, they were all jerks.
  • How they speak to you, are the nice or not.  Hey, that is just who I am, you judgemental jerk.
  • Do they bad-mouth all of their ex’s?  You will be saying the same things about me soon and you are very hard to please.
  • If you set a time a place to meet them, are they late?  It was not my fault, traffic sucks.

So, at this point unless you are a duller you are starting to see what I am getting at.  I am not even getting into whether or not you meet the minimum criteria.  I will cover that in another post.

The Man

Entrepreneurs are willing to work 80 hours a week to avoid working 40 hours a week.
Lori Greiner

Why most recruiters won’t help you

Some candidates contact me after they are not selected for a position and ask why or for feedback.  I actually like this and encourage people to do this.  Keep in mind this is NOT the people who do it this way: “WHY DID YOU NOT HIRE ME?!”  Or: “You obviously did not hire me because I am (insert protected class status here; old, black, latino, a woman, etc…) as I am the most qualified person for the position.”  For those people please refer to my post about not being a tool.

Unfortunately, no matter how much I want to help you I won’t.  At least not in my professional capacity.  Why?  Because The Man over me does not want me to.  Also, it usually does not end well.  Imagine this… you break up with someone and they ask nicely “Why did you break up with me?”  Or imagine if you asked your most recent ex that.  Most would say “It’s not you, it’s me.”  You know what that means… It’s YOU!  No one likes that.  Yes, some people can handle it and learn from it but the vast majority of people will get angry and argumentative.  It is the case of a some people ruining it for everyone, kind of like that Uber Driver that sued Uber.

That is why I started this blog.  So I can help.  I also want to share some of the funny things that happen day to day as a recruiter.  Yes, some of my posts are not nice and there will be a lot of sarcasm which will anger people but all in all I think it can be a force for good.  At the very least it will make some people laugh and if not them, me 🙂

The Man

Rule #1
No good deed goes unpunished.