Interviewers who proclaim that most interview advice is simplistic irritate me. These are people who view advice on eye contact, handshakes, how to answer difficult questions, and avoiding smoking before an interview, as obvious and unworthy of mention.
But the fact remains that occasionally some of these know-it-alls speak the truth, and the truth sometimes hurts. Let’s face it, although eye contact and the handshake need to be in check, there are more important things to consider at an interview.
Charles B is one of these people who warn jobseekers to be aware of more pressing issues at an interview. At the behest of a customer of mine, I read an article by Charles entitled Why I Won’t Hire You. It’s quite good, albeit abrasive. For example, he writes:
“When you first walk in to my office, I am expecting you to be one of the 99%+ people who I know I won’t hire in the first 5 minutes. I am hoping I will be proven wrong, because I really want to hire you and be done interviewing. Unfortunately, most people looking for jobs don’t deserve them….”
Don’t pull any punches, Sir Charles.
Charles goes on to address some of his pet peeves, those that will certainly prevent job candidates from getting hired by him. I see truth in all of them, and have my own comments to add.
1. You send me a stupidly long résumé
Bingo, the shorter the better. If you’ve read his article in full before reaching this point, you’ll note that he’s a bit hypocritical, as his article is quite long. But his point about writing a résumé that addresses the requirements he lists in his job ads is spot on. In the hiring manager’s mind, it’s all about her needs, not a candidate’s desire to pontificate on irrelevant skills and qualifications.
2. You can’t tell me why you like your current job
That’s right, be specific and sound enthusiastic about what you did at your last job. Generic statements like, “I enjoyed the challenges” are seen as avoiding the question. Someone who’s serious about working for a company will see this as an opportunity to talk about responsibilities and challenges that exist at the perspective company.
3. No career plans or vision
As Charles says, “If you just want a job, why should I care? Someone else will come to me with their vision. Eventually.”
He states as a valid reason being disappointed with the lack of growth opportunity at one’s former company and an opportunity to advance at his company. Why would an employer want to hire someone who doesn’t know what he wants? Failure to express career direction at in interview indicates a lack of focus on the job.
4. No Skills
This is a common complaint among recruiters and hiring managers; people apply for jobs they’re not qualified to do. Charles says to not waste his or others’ time and be honest in your written communications about how you’ll need to learn the required skills. For example, he accepts someone who writes, “Looking to grow skills in Unix administration from a project background.”
5. Answer my questions with conjecture
Here he’s saying don’t bull s_ _ _ me. If he asks a questions that calls for an example, job candidates better have one, lest Sir Charles loses his patience. I see his point. Interviewees who are dancing in circles come across as desperate or unsure of themselves. Just be honest and say you can’t provide an example.
How to Win the interview
There are five specific traits Charles is looking for:
- Show me you can get things done.
- Show me you are intelligent.
- Show me how I fit into your vision
- Be highly skilled.
- Be Passionate.
- Don’t let me see you sweat. (This is my suggestion.)
The bottom line is that Charles B is telling it how he thinks it is. Jobseekers shouldn’t discount other information given by job search experts, but they should heed what this hiring manager writes. The truth sometimes hurts. But isn’t it better to know the truth than go to an interview with blinders on? Incidentally, Charles B might not like what I’ve written, but the truth is that I don’t care.
PS. Since I wrote this a few days ago, I visited Charlie’s comments and was amazed by the positive and negative…downright nasty…comments he has received. I urge you to read his article.
This article previously appeared in January of 2012, but it still holds true to the nature of interviews.