When Bad Interviews Happen to Good Candidates

8 September 2010 at 12:04AM Leave a comment

On Execunet, Robyn Greenspan has a great article about the NotHire side: what happens when the company takes action to blow up the interview. Not every interview is a professional, and not every professional is an interviewer. Greenspan shares three of the worst:

At a dinner meeting with the CEO and other key company executives, this candidate said the questions were unusual: “What did my watch cost? Why did I buy such an expensive watch? Why did I come in a suit to dinner? How much did my suit cost? Did I know the job was in Raleigh?

“The next morning I arrived at the reception area; and after waiting 30 minutes I was escorted to a phone so an HR person in another city could tell me that there would be no interviews, and I would be free to catch a cab back to the airport,” recalled the candidate.

In the comments, several folks shared some of their worst interview experiences. Here’s Dani’s vote for the worst:

My last position was a CIO. Been in the field for 30 years. I applied for a consultancy position by a consulting firm for one of their larger customers, I worked for before, and have intimate knowledge of the position and need.I was interviewed by a junior 22 year old HR rep. She had no idea what the position was about, nor the customer or his need, had no clue what are the abilities and qualities needed for the position. She asked superficial questions right out of a stenciled page, and did not understand the answers.

I knew for a fact that they could not hope for a better suited candidate, they should have grabbed me, but “there was nobody home”. Their loss. So the moral is – Assign an appropriate interviewer for each candidate or position.

Good point.

JoeG recalled an experience that has given hives to some recruiters, with a natural disaster layered on top:

I did have an interview situation where two people from the same company were interviewing in our offices at the same time. One knew about the other, but not vice versa. We carefully arranged to keep them in different parts of the small office and to avoid one seeing the other.

Except, a tornado happened to come along. We evacuated everyone into a central conference room to wait for further instructions. The two candidates got to laugh at their predicament much like two Baptists running into each other in the liquor store. No one died in the making of this anecdote, however.

Dave mentions his experience:

During the interview the hiring manager mentioned FIVE times she had an IQ over 200. Plus, she said “Well, you probably don’t.” Really??After the fifth mention, I told her the interview was over since I was interviewing her, just as much as she was interviewing me. She was shocked!

HR was horrified when I mentioned this at the post-interview wrap up. This company was one of the financial firms that went defunct in the last few years. Go figure.

There’s more, and some good sharing in the comments, on the original posting. Check it out here:


Entry filed under: Corporate, NotHire. Tags: , , , .

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My Core Ideas

1. "I can't tell you the best way to get a job - because there is no one best way. After 21 years of recruiting, I CAN share things I've seen candidates do to guarantee they DIDN'T get the job."

2. "Most companies don't realize how their recruiting process impacts their candidate pool, and their business. Attention to simple things will result in big improvements."

About the Author

Troy Bettinger, SPHR is a Denver Recruiter, Public Speaker, HR Metrics Analyst and Human Resources Leader who has been recruiting in corporate and municipal environments since 1991.

He specializes in the complete hiring process: defining, sourcing, recruiting, testing, interviewing, offering and orienting new hires. He's also well versed in strategic human resources, college recruiting, diversity recruiting, AAP, EEO, ATS integration, recruiting metrics, social media, recruiting leadership, training and employment branding.


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