Q: I went for a job interview last week. I had myself all prepared to tell them exactly what I felt they needed to hear - my experience, and how that experience relates to their company. The interview panel comprised three people: but, really, it was like just one. He was a compulsive talker - and his interjections were rarely relevant. He asked about soccer, music, my home town, and much more besides. None of it made any sense to me vis a vis the job I was hoping to get - I felt I had to humour him and found myself down a lot of blind alleys. I barely talked about my suitability for the role at all. I didn’t get the job. Any thoughts? (LK, email ).
A: Oh, it can happen alright - and it’s very frustrating. All revved up, and nowhere to go.
Let’s work through the various scenarios as best we can.
1. Was it a deliberate ploy by the interviewer to see how you coped under improbable circumstances? We can never know fully, but, somehow, I doubt it: the fact that it appears that the whole interview was conducted in the way you outline suggests it was just plain ol’ bad interviewing.
2. Could you have imposed yourself a bit more on the interview? I wasn’t there, so I will never know, but my inkling is that you should have humoured him a little less and fought to get back on track. It sounds to me like you allowed yourself to fall into the chit-chat - in an interview, the onus is on you, at all times, to seek to bring the conversation to places where you can score points. A gentle phrase like “So, to get back to what I was saying…”, instead of allowing him to dictate the next step, might have got you out of trouble.
3. Was he like that to everyone? Probably. Having the platform can go to the heads of some interviewers. It could be a power trip. Have you any way of ascertaining from other candidates how they found the interview? It would be good to know, but my hunch is that he went the same way all day long. Again, I reiterate point two above.
4. Did it adversely affect your chances? Probably. If you didn’t get to say what you wanted to say, your candidature was diminished. When the panel sat down to evaluate each candidate, they would have looked at what compelling ‘evidence’ each one managed to transmit in the each interview. Again, I refer to point two - the onus is on you to get the good stuff across the table.
5. Did he frustrate his colleagues on the day? Almost certainly. Recurring phrases or approaches can ring like an alarm in the head of those sitting alongside. “Oh, no, he’s not going to ask them who’ll win the league again, is he?” his colleagues are likely to have roared in the silence of their own heads. But that’s no consolation to you now.
Every day is school day, LK. Interviews are great places to learn - as we have said before, nothing beats the experience of lights, camera, action.
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