Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Bad Interviewer

Let's talk about the bad interviewer.  These are people that poorly conduct interviews and provide no value to the process.  If you haven't experienced this yet, then you haven't been involved in the game long enough.  Keep going.  You'll see.  I guess it's also possible that you could be that person.

Winging It

This is illegal and you can be prosecuted for doing so.  "Winging It" is a phrase that means you have no intention nor the appropriate time to properly plan how you're going to handle a situation.  With interviews, however, this is illegal.  You should not ask a different set a questions to different candidates.  You have to ask the same questions to each candidate.  Not doing so is simply unfair and often allows the wrong candidate to shine.  Each candidate must be given a chance to answer the same set of questions as everybody else. 

This is a small world.  Could you imagine two friends going for the same position and later talking about how their interview went?  What do you think is going to happen when one realizes their interview was unfair?  Lawsuits are always an inconvenience, so I recommend avoiding them.  Managers... come on!  You know better.  Don't be lazy and do the right thing.  Remember the old phrase, "Plan the work and work the plan."  Plan your interview process and make sure you're executing according to plan.

Being a Bully

OK... I don't know where in the hell managers are getting this from, but stop it!  I'm noticing junior douchebags being born from copying techniques of bully interviewers.  By bully, I'm not referring to physically beating up candidates.  Obviously, assault is illegal.  I'm referring to bullying by expression.  Facial expressions, body expressions, and linguistic expressions of the interviewer are often being used to bully candidates into being more nervous than they already are.

I love concrete examples so here you go.  The shit face.  Have you seen it?  Of course you have.  We all do it, but it is not appropriate in an interview.  The shit face is when interviewers look as though they smell shit.  They squint their eyes, they wrinkle their foreheard, and cover their mouth throughout the interview.  They have this look on their face as if you are bothering them or they are cronically constipated.  Where did this come from?  When did people start thinking that having the shit face while you're interviewing someone is the way to go?  Some people think it makes them look more professional, yet I ensure you it does not.  You only end up looking like a dumb ass that was manufactured to be a douchebag.

Here's another one.  Purposely being socially awkward to establish your dominance.  Stop it!  You're not auditioning for some mafia sitcom pilot and you're not a lion in the jungle.  You're a person interviewing another person to determine if they have what it takes to get the job done and be a team player.  There's nothing worse than being interviewed by some clown that thinks they are better than everyone else.  Trust, you're not.  If you really want to go there, then how about this?  There is always something or someone better than you.  You can be serious and cool at the same time without making your guest feel uncomfortable.

Ok, last one for this section and that is the number of interviews being demanded per candidate.  Interviews should not go beyond 2 encounters.  I'm hearing companies calling candidates back for a 3rd and 4th interview.  What the hell!?  How inconsiderate can you be?  Excessive interviews only make your company appear as though it DOES NOT have its act together.  Candidates have family, jobs, and traffic to deal with.  They are looking for new opportunties. You either want them or you don't.  Their time is as precious as yours is.  Don't waste it.  A phone interview and a face-to-face is all that's needed.  Keep the face-to-face interviews to an hour, especially with candidates that currently have a job.  They most likely need to return to that job after the interview.

The Good Friend

You know I couldn't let this one go.  Come on, it's me.  Look, I'm all for bringing aboard friends that are qualified to handle the job.  Notice I said qualified, not certified (more on that later), but you must keep the process fair.  Keep it easy and remove yourself from actually conducting the interview.  After all, your name is on the line when you attempt to hire a friend and you better know for a fact they're qualified. If they fail, you look really bad.  It's best to allow other professionals to interview your friend so respect can be gained during the interview. The last thing you want is for your friend to come aboard and not have the respect of others because you snook them in.


The ultimate sin is influencing the interview process so that an attractive candidate is hired.  Not attractive in the sense that they look good on paper, but physically instead.  This is completely unacceptable and quite revolting.  Let me set the scene for you.  This is a big problem with male managers, so we'll use them in this example.  Let's say at some point, a candidate that looks like Kim Kardashian walks in...

For whatever reason, you find her attractive.  All of a sudden, you change your tune for this particular candidate. The only thought running through your mind is that you want her no matter what.  You find yourself trying to rationalize the wrong answers said.  You're smilling like a kid enjoying their first ice cream cone scoop.  YO, IDIOT! WAKE UP! Never, never, never even think about hiring a candidate based off their looks.  This is an immoral jackass move.  If the person is actually qualified for the job and it is determined that they are truly the best fit, then go right ahead, but do not dare immediately consider them without analyzing all the qualified candidates.

Female managers do this as well, but the problem is more common with men.

What You Should Do

We've gone over plenty of what not to do, so let's further solidify that by talking about what you should do to lay the foundation for not turning into a bad interviewer.  First, get a plan.  Determine the allowable time frame for finding the right candidates.  Determine the questions that will be asked.  Group interviews are common these days, so if you are going to allow this, make sure there are at least 3 interviewers per session.  This allows greater collaboration.  Do not hold large group interviews.  You'd only be wasting resources and increasing the chance of running out of time.  Hold feedback sessions for each candidate and rank them.  This will help measure who should get the job.

Don't be such a stickler for candidates with certifications.  You best believe that they in no way prove the candidate can actually survive in the environment.  Be honest about your environment, so the candidate knows exactly what they are stepping into.  Don't hide it.  Talk about all the bad and all the good.  No company is perfect and yours is certainly no exception.  Checkout the video below, "Interview Tips for a Project Manager."  At [05:30], the presenter touches on qualifications, yet mentions that certifications indicate the candidates' willingness to learn more about their craft.  I somewhat agree with this, but what you should do is ask them how do they keep their craft polished or if they do at all.  Books and online materials are a lot cheaper than throwing money at a certification.  Perhaps the candidate reads up on their craft a lot, which can be more valuable.

Thanks for reading. Keep this blog relevant by leading IT managers and actual workers here for laughs, insight, and further debates. Continue to submit your management stories to stupid.it.managers[(at)]gmail.com. Your identity will be kept private.

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