How Not to be Interviewed

This morning I joined our MD and a member of sales to interview a new senior engineer to join the company.  Our desired skills list is pretty precise and far from a shopping list.  We got in a CV last week which appeared to meet most of it, so an interview was arranged for this morning with the chap. 

I review the CV a bit more.  It’s now I notice that he says “we did xyz” a lot in the CV (what is called a resume across the pond).  That makes me concerned at the last moment.  We agree a little system to secretly communicate to each other if we are going to continue with the applicant or not.

It starts off with the MD letting me know that he’s going to be late.  I know things happen; there are emergencies, traffic jams, etc, so a call ahead is good.  He eventually arrives in about 40 minutes late.  The excuse?  He lost track of time while out running.  Oh dear!

The MD starts things off.  As technology is briefly skirted over (bad when an engineer is being interviewed) I decide to ask for some details.

Q) What EMC SAN was used there? (When it was claimed he was a SAN administrator).

A) I don’t know. (He couldn’t even remember something like the word “Clarion”).

Q) What kind of replication would you use? (When we asked about a fault tolerant design)

A) The standard Windows one.

Q) Which one is that?

A) The standard Microsoft one.

I almost expected him to follow that up with “you know; the one … with the thing … that replicates”.  Without thinking too hard I immediately thought of 7 replications systems from MS.

Lots of things were talked about in his experience.  Every time we drilled for details he could give us no specifics.  It was bad.  5 minutes in and I had issued the signal – he was not suitable.  2 minutes after that and the sales guy sent up a flare.  The MD gave him one more chance, asking about networking.  Semaphore’s were waving almost instantly.

My opinion is that the guy “was there when that stuff was done”.  He really should not have submitted his CV.  He didn’t stand a chance when he could not name any specifics.

It was bad.  I was rooting for him because he’s been out of work for a while.  But is was a no-hoper.  No preparation, no being conscientious about making it on time, trying to fluff his was through stuff he didn’t know.  I never even got a chance to take out the big-gun questions – they are open ended scenarios to appraise the depth of knowledge on something.  I warn the interviewee that there is no “fix” or right answer.  I figure its better than my cousin who brings in mind-bending puzzles or the even the legendary Microsoft brain busters.

If you are interviewing then you need to do the work up front.  If you don’t do it then what are the interviewers to think of you?  Here you are at this most critical point and you’re unprepared.  What will you be like at a customer meeting?

By the way, unemployment reach just under 14% in Ireland last month.

3 thoughts on “How Not to be Interviewed”

  1. Painful isn’t it. I was even told by an applicant once that asking about the use of a default gateway in network settings was being overly technical and besides the point …

  2. We are looking to hire two people who are going to supplement me, has been in the papers for 3 days now, and we have allready had almost 20 applicants… Some qualified some less so..

    1. A job advert in the papers? How 1980’s 😉 I don’t think people even look in the papers for a job advert any more in these parts. Even in the boom times, all jobs went online in the usual few places. Unfortunately, multiple agencies would advertise the exact same job, giving misleading ideas of placement openings. It doesn’t help that some agencies (a) advertise jobs that they have nothing to do with, then send in CV’s to the person they heard is hiring, hoping to get a commission and (b) advert attractive looking postings that do not actually exist – only to harvest CV’s.

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