The Science Of The Interview

Job

Job interviews seem to have evolved into elaborate psychosocial and behavioral tests.


Almost as if there is an exact science behind trying to pick “the winners” from “the losers.” {hate those harsh terms about people]


Many questions look at how quickly the interviewee thinks on their feet, how prepared they are for the interview, and how well they present themselves for the job.


However, my question is whether these things are truly determinant of the fit between the person and the job, the culture, and the supervisor and team, as well as indicative of integrity of the person, their work ethic, or how well they would actually perform in said job. 


The interviewer proudly blurts out from his or her script:


TELL ME ABOUT…


A time that you came from from work and said “I completely nailed it–a home run out of the park!”


Or


–  A time that you came from work and said “Oh shit, I completely screwed everything up.”


Ah, like work–or life for that matter–is generally that black and white.


Are we forgetting about the 99% of the time that people go in the office, put in a solid day’s work for a solid day’s pay–and did a good job, made a decent contribution, and got along with the team. 


Also, let’s face it, the vast majority of people are not the Einsteins or Steve Jobs of this world. 


They don’t come to the interview having invented the driverless car or negotiated the end to World War II.


How about this question…


“Why do you want to work here?”


I heard someone actually asked this question about a job working in mining regulation–yeah right, your and everyone else’s dream job. 


What an incredibly narcissistic question, where the interviewer is looking to hear about how great their organization is or their department is, how superb a leader he/she is known to be, and why the person just will fit in perfectly to a place that alas they probably really know very little about from an insider’s perspective.


Okay, let’s try another one…


“Where do you see yourself in 5-years?”


Let’s see I want to be kissing your ass in 5-years and actually until the day I die or maybe better what your really afraid of hearing is that I’m gunning for your and would like to take your job and show this company what a real XYZ can do to improve things around here. 


Here’s another one a colleague told me about recently…


Pretend your David Ogilvy and sell me on one of your ideas. You have 15-minutes to prepare. 


Ok let’s put the pressure on, because the candidate coming in today for the job interview with a mortgage and two kids at home to feed isn’t enough.  Do these conditions really demonstrate what the person could do with amble time and preparation and for something they really believe in?


Let’s not forget to give an IQ and personality test to the person, so we can peg their intelligence and Myers Briggs or perhaps we should give them some puzzles and let them really sweat with the pieces. 


Let’s face it we’ve all had some people wow on the interview and on paper and turn out to be duds on the specific jobs, and others that you weren’t so sure about that turned out superbly.  


Assessing people is hard and many people are great at the poker game of landing the offer. 


It’s the interviewers job to look beyond the playbook and the acting, and try to see the real person sitting in front of them.


Yes, presentation is important, but even more so can we get down to the work ethic and the integrity of the person?  What they are good at and where do they have weaknesses? Are they able and willing to learn and grow?  What do they like to work on and what do they recoil from?  How do they relate to others and can they get along?  When they face problems, challenges, and conflicts, can they and are they willing to work through it? 


I don’t know any supervisor that hasn’t hit the jackpot on some hires and made mistakes on others…those that claim they’ve made an actual science out of bringing on the absolute talent–I wonder how well they do in their next interview. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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