Thursday, November 12, 2009

The "Top 10" Types of Interviews

With the national unemployment rate hovering at 10%, many Americans have a new job: job-searching. As part of the search process, they need to survive the job interview. To assist applicants as they navigate the job-search waters, here is a list of the top 10 types of interviews. Armed with an understanding of the top 10 types of interviews, applicants can quickly identify the type of interview they find themselves in and how to move forward.

“Over or Under”
In this type of interview, the applicant is either over-qualified or under-qualified. This occurs because the applicant did not read the original ad thoroughly or because the employer changed the parameters of the job without informing the applicant. I once had an interview with a manufacturer and was told by the President, “Since we never attract applicants of your caliber, we just wanted to meet you.”

“Someone Else”
Within the first few moments of the interview, the interviewer explains that the position would best be filled by someone with a different college degree, by someone with different industry experience, or some other ridiculous excuse. The real truth may be that the interviewer plans to hire a distant relative or friend, so he/she tries to highlight the applicant’s shortcomings in an effort to dissuade the applicant from pursuing the position.

“No One Will Be Hired”
During this type of interview or set of interviews, the applicant has so many interviews with one company that he/she doubts anyone will ever be hired. Despite several interviews with a company over several months, I was eventually told that the company had instituted a hiring freeze.

“Too Many Cooks Spoil the Broth”
At this type of interview, the applicant meets with so many people at the first, second, or third interview, that the objective of determining the most qualified applicant takes a back seat to the probability of creating personality conflicts. This can also happen at a panel-style interview when an applicant sits at a conference table surrounded by a firing squad or 10, I mean 10 interviewers.

“Pad the HR Files”
While some leaders in the human resources/personnel/human capital industry are demonstrating their worth at the C-level roundtable, many HR professionals are still unsure how to interview, develop talent, and improve employee morale. This type of interview exists solely to attract highly qualified applicants with no intent to hire them, but instead, to make the HR Department look good.

“The Filter”
During this type of interview, an applicant meets with members of a company’s human resources department. This is always the first interview with a company, and the objective is to determine if the applicant is a breathing human being, appears at the interview fully clothed, does not show up with his/her parents, and is not a convicted felon. Other than those criteria, the HR folks have no specifics about the job in question. So when the applicant asks questions, the HR person’s response is always, “I don’t know.”

“The Applicant Must Be Lying”
This type of interview is difficult because the possibility exists that a ridiculous comment made by an interviewer may actually test the applicant and his/her response. At one interview, the interviewer reviewed my portfolio and when he saw a paper with my name on it, he asked, “Did you write this?”

“The Interviewer Does Not Know How to Interview”
No matter what is discussed during this type of interview, the interviewer will not or cannot pay attention. He/she will either look out windows, fiddle with a pen, use the telephone, send emails or text messages, draw, etc.

In this type of interview, the applicant has no recourse. While there may be illegal questions that cannot be asked during interviews, how many people actually leave an interview because someone asked “Are you married?” and then walk to a lawyer’s office, hire a lawyer, and then sue the company? This just doesn’t happen. This type of interview happens as a result of interviewers’ prejudices (gender, ethnicity, education, etc.) as opposed to an applicant’s ability or inability to perform the described job duties.

“We Cannot Hire You Because We Are Stupid”
This type of interview is, perhaps, the worst scenario. On paper, the position looks interesting, and the company looks interesting. However, once the interview begins, everything reeks of the Titanic. During an interview with a software company, I once asked a President where he saw the company in five years, and his response was “I don’t know.”

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