Saturday, February 7, 2009

How to Blow an Interview


Raymond (our HR advisor), Julien (THE Marketing Guy ;) ) and I were conducting Finance interviews yesterday and it was quite an experience.

We were all fired up from it - or should I say - angry/pissed/offended - whichever word you choose from that pile.

We are looking for someone to handle the financial operations for us nearing the commercial launch of the business. Hiring seems to be the most difficult thing to do. We need to make sure that they fit with the team. (It's funny. Even with only two people on the full-time team right now we've already developed a "culture".)

SO. The point of this post now. How to Blow an Interview. Here are some key takeaways.

1. Snatch the questions out of the interviewer's hand.
2. Laugh at the management team and call them junior and say that they have no sense presenting you with such simple questions.
3. State the obvious - "I can tell you guys are a Start-Up" followed by "I've been around the block and I know what I'm doing." (Said in such a way that the undelying meaning is "you [the management team] have no idea what you're doing")
4. Make yourself sound even better than God. Say you did very well in your past corporate experiences and you were handling a $Googlion dollars$ (I made that up) in your past position and that $720 million dollars is not a big enough opportunity for you.
5. Focus on the What's in it for YOU. Not what you can bring to the company. Or make yourself sound so BIG that your feet are too big for the shoes we are presenting you with (WOW. "We definitely have some big feet to fill" vs. "You definitely have some big shoes to fill").
6. Don't acknowledge the advisor's existence. Seriously, I think that Raymond felt he was a passerby listening in on our interview.

Those are just a couple of things - but definitely leaving that interview I felt like I had wasted an hour of my life getting disrespected.

There are a couple things I would admit to. We ARE a Start Up. I AM YOUNG. I DON'T KNOW EVERYTHING. It doesn't mean that you can disrespect me though. It is precisely because I know I don't know everything and that I need help in certain areas that I am hiring people who bring the experience to the team. If you don't want to help just say so and get up and leave. I think I would've been less offended than being forced to sit there (me and my broken leg as a package) and listen to what the person said.

I spent an hour preparing the interview questions, only to have them laughed at and called junior and that I have NO SENSE. Really?

I have met a lot of people who are very knowledgeable and experienced, but they came INTACT with their ethics, morals and courtesy for another human being. More importantly, they were humble about their accomplishments.

You get what you give. You give respect. You get respect. Honestly, I should have worn my "welcome to my nightmare" T-shirt yesterday instead of showing up in a business professional outfit. I can only say that this experience has taught me that there are many different types of people in the world and I shouldn't be surprised if I get the "outliers" once in a while.

Share some of your interview nightmares in the comments section! It would be amusing for me to read and make us feel better :)

1 comment:

Raymond To, MBA, CMA said...

Flo is absolutely right! I was introduced as the advisor of the company and while I am not an egomaniac, it is etiquette to at least acknowledge I exist. Instead after I introduced my name, the response I got was "I know you" said in a very suspicious tone like she saw me without my clothes on or something.
Then about 30 minutes into the interview, I excused myself and went to the washroom (the candidate did not even know I had left) and when I returned, I made "did you solve everything already?" and no one heard me!

My comment was made after I had my questions snatched from my hands.

The moral to this story is that this sort of behaviour still exists out there. One would expect a senior candidate like this to behave more professionally. What irked me is that this is the 2nd time the candidate had met with the mgmt team. Let this be a valuable lesson for you out there:

1. Do your homework about the company and not just read the website of the firm. Google it, or You Tube it...if she had You Tubef PeerFx, the candidate would have seen that Florence knows her stuff!

2. Don't get offended when people ask you to demonstrate a skill. I doubt if we had asked Michael Jordan to show us his jump shot, he would call us "junior" for asking.