The applicant stared like a rabbit caught in headlights at the interviewer. shutterstock_job_interview_in_story Image via Shutterstock He did not have a clue how to answer the question, so he decided to mumble something unintelligible because it would help him sound more clever as he racked his brain. Was it a fearsome query …
..he's gonna get attacked again.
i hope Hollow's read this one too! loved the comments on the last article.
I went to one interview and thought I'd failed miserably on the Tech test. It wasn't until after I'd been in the Job for a few weeks that I was told one of the reasons I'd got the job and not one of the other candidates, was answering 'I haven't a clue I'd have to look that up' to one of the questions instead of waffling.
I know exactly what you mean. I had to take a tech test to get my current contract and they were testing all sorts of background from networking to coding.
Some of my answers were tagged with a little note saying 'this is a complete guess btw'.
I got the contract, apparently I also scored the highest - must've been lucky guesses!
I got told after an interview that one of my skills was that I was prepared to admit when I didn't know something, and ask someone. Apparently it's quite rare.
Release the hounds!
This one should generate even more shouting than the last one.
... and the job is worse again ...
Looking forward to the next article - "you've got the job and it's a load of sh1te", because lets be honest, how many times have you gone through the mill of the interview processes, got the job, started and realised the place is a total disaster, or got the job on the basis of prerequist x and y, to find you're doing z and your career is nicely sliding off the rails...
Flame war part 2?
Hope not, this article is quite less aggravating than the first one...
Not nearly enough flame bait in there, I was really looking forward to today's ire filled comments section.
The author seems to have come down a peg or two since the previous article and now has some decent, if basic, advice. I'm still not sure I believe it all (Really? You want me to swot up on interview puzzles that might crop up? Are you hiring someone to work for Puzzler World or do you want someone who can actually do the JOB you're asking of them? Just because MS/Google have "weird" interview techniques that people think are cool, doesn't mean they apply in the same way to Joe Bloggs hiring a code-monkey - my favourite answer in an interview was "I have no idea, but if you give me an web browser, your technical documentation and twenty minutes, I'll find out that information for you, like I would if problems I was uncertain of cropped up during my job") but it's a mite more useful, even if completely contrived (Don't turn up late? Gosh, never considered that).
To the Author: An elitest attitude just makes everyone hate you - the people you're trying to help, the people doing the same job as you, and the people who employ you. This second article is much more within the realms of "This is advice from someone who deals with this a bit more than you do" rather than "OBEY ME, MINIONS, FOR I AM INFALLIBLE!"
I don't generally remember the last book I read vecause I'm already on to the next one. Surely thats a more desireable trait in a go-getting trend-setting hip and desireable candidate for the meat mill?
My thought as well, maybe the question should be, what books are you currently reading?
Works for me.
And the answer is "Flashman on the March". Unrepentent lech rogering his way up and down Abyssinia in the name of the Queen's peace.
Oh dear, did I not get the job?
Remember that ...
First-rate managers hire first-rate people.
Second-rate managers hire third-rate people.
Excellent flame bait. They'll be along in a minute to put the fire out I'm sure.
Is there no room in the interview world that encompasses the fact the people can get nervous?
When I'm working, I can walk straight into a viper pit of board level directors who are baying for my company's blood and come out of it with a recommendation for further work; but put me in an interview and I get nervous, hot and sweaty - I simply can't seem to help it no matter how confident I am.
Maybe if the hiring staff weren't so perfect I wouldn't feel quite so intimidated perhaps?
Some things missing
(apologies if double posted, had a few password related issues)
Don’t forget YOU are also interviewing the employer. We seem to be stuck in this cap-doffing “I am so grateful that you would wish to see me sir” mode that people forget the employer needs them. Sure, you may need the job more than they need you (as there are ten other you equivalents sitting outside) but you must be certain that what you are about to be employed doing, and with whom, is for you. There are also ten more jobs for you that might be better…
If you can, get a sensible friend to mock interview you. Ideally one who is a recruiter, not even in your field is fine. Get a friend (women, for want of a gross generalisation, tend to be more astute at this than men) to look at how you dress, how you sit, how you stand, how you appear in front of people you don’t know. If a suit is needed and you never normally wear one, then practice wearing it. You’ll look daft pulling at your collar because you have not worn a tie since school, and feeling comfortable is pretty important. Once your CV is on the “interview” pile you still have to make the first impression, and an ill-fitting suit, bad posture, weak voice etc. all add up to the first impression. It can be hard to shake. A good interviewer will make you more relaxed, but be prepared for bad interviewers.
Prepare answers for questions such as “what are you most proud of” and “tell me about the last time you disagreed with a superior”.
Practice a good handshake – not wet, but not knuckle breakingly firm. If you have sweaty palms, try and work out how to make them a little less damp (wipe on trousers/skirt, leave hand open not clenched etc). If you are a bloke and a woman is interviewing you – don’t stare at her chest. Look at her. Oh, practice looking at someone’s eyes too, not Hannibal Lector scary stare-out, but we have a distrust of people who never look at you.
You will be forgiven for nerves, but being a gibbering wreck is no good.
Oh, and turn your bloody phone off too. As an interviewer I want you in the room, not answering a call from a mate, or updating your twitter crap. Speaking of which, did the last article mention making your Facebook page either completely hidden, or aligned to your CV interests? We check out Facebook from the CV name. Lots of dumb stuff on Facebook, and the CV is in the bin. We will not look past that which is open for the public, so we don’t do fake friend requests, but I am sure others will. Sometimes we leave it for the interview and ask if we should employ someone who… and display drunken FB picture of them vomiting on a cat, or mooning the queen, or whatever. The answers to that question can be very revealing. “So, are you proud of that?”
“Why did you put it on the internet then?”
I once got asked if I had a linkin/fb account from one interviewer for a security role once. I answered that I prefer to keep my personal life out of the public domain, and certainly don't want to give out personal career information to just anyone.
He was surprised at first, but then decided it was a good idea and was going to eliminate a lot of the info on his own pages.
If they had to ask then I would suspect either you didn't have one in which case it might be a valid question or if you did then they hadn't searched indicating they didn't consider you amongst the primary candidates or they had searched and were testing your honesty. So the correct response should always be, haven't you looked?
Tips for recruitment consultants
Please can we have a follow up article of tips for recruitment consultants? This piece is better than "Why your tech CV sucks" but it's only fair to give hiring managers and interviewees the right to reply.
If nobody else wants to do it, I'll write it. Actually, after one too many calls from recruiters a couple of years ago, I already did.
Having very recently secured a new job, good interview technique is fresh in my mind, I especially agree with the comments about being honest about your limitations if you don't have all the answers.
In my interview I was given a few technical scenarios to troubleshoot and if possible, resolve. I though I'd performed poorly as I struggled with basic details on the first (see the pushing out trivia comment) and then struggled with a simple lack of knowledge on another (which I admitted to).
I used this apparent catastrophe to emphasise that I was seeking a role in which I could develop the skills I currently lacked, something I did must've worked as they made me an offer a few days later.
May I be the first .....
To congratulate Dominic on a thoroughly thought provoking article.
A step up from last time
Its nice to read an article where I'm not being told I'm socially malajusted and borderline retarded and that's why I don't deserve a job. Perhaps you could do a version 1.1 of your CV writing guide in a similar vein?
It's the tone (directed at the author, not any commentators)
I am perhaps being played here, but what I really don't like is the tone of this article (and the preceding one). Some of your points are valid, but is it really necessary to be so antagonistic? Yes, we get it, there are some frustrating things you have to deal with in your line of work, but we all have frustrating things to deal with in our lines of work. You are reducing the power of your arguments by using the kind of tone employed in this and your previous article.
I think it was the abrasive tone, rather than the content, that made the previous article so badly received - maybe Mr Connor needs to brush up on his diplomacy skills. I mean, in my line of work (application support) I frequently want to say to customers
WERE YOU BORN A F***ING MORON OR WERE YOU JUST REPEATEDLY DROPPED ON THE HEAD AS A SMALL CHILD ? EITHER WAY, READ THE F***ING MANUAL AND STOP WASTING MY F***ING TIME !!!!!!!
- but I find I get less negative feedback when I tone it down a bit.
Re: It's the tone (directed at the author, not any commentators)
Look at the top of the page. Yes, the bit that says, "The Register". What does it say? Yes, it says, "The Register"!
More from Dom. Less from needy whiners.
But everyone loves irony!
Its great isn't it? He's telling his target audience that their means of communication is as important as what they have to say, whilst simultaneously calling them stupid assholes. Smooth.
Is this flame-a-geek-week?
Dominic has worked really hard this term
which has resulted in various improvements
to his grammar, prose, delivery and sensitivity
towards the first years. Although this has not
quite qualified him for an "A" I do now find that
reading his work no longer gives me a stabbing
pain behind one eye. He is also a bit less of a cnut.
its the written word people
Geez, trolls go away, this article is written with the intention of helping.
Whatever 'tone' you take from it is yours and yours alone
Personally I read it as intended, took no offence or was left feeling antagonised (really bigphil9009 ??) or patronised.
I'm on to a 2nd stage interview myself in the next week, I'll remember some of the points made here (most I already adhere to some anyway).
One of the side-effects of the current economic climate....
....means that at least in an ideal world, interviewers should really be looking at the "Why does your employment history end six months ago?" with less of a jaded eye. At the moment, it's not uncommon, if a job finishes for whatever reason, to have a few months (and in some cases a year and up) of downtime, simply because the jobs aren't available. Unfortunately, most employers seem to regard not having a job as a personal failing, rather than lean times.
Also, don't get me started on the possible reaction to admitting to a period of long term illness. Technically, they shouldn''t discriminate, but we all know that when the applicant to post ratio can be in the hundreds to one, they can always find some excuse not to employ the guy who's been ill before, and therefore, in their mind, may be ill again and let them down.
Anonymous to protect future employability.
"end of last job"
I have never binned a CV that had "redundancy" on it as a reason for a job ending. There are few of us in employment who have not had it happen to them, or one of their friends, or colleagues. It holds no shame - stuff happens. Wrong time, wrong place and all that.
My favourite has always been when you tell them you suffer from a long term mental illness after they ask what you've been doing during those curious breaks in your employment history and you can always immediately tell from the change in their demeanour and look in their eyes that you are certainly not going to be offered the post.
Sounds harsh but...
...don't tell them that in the interview? You are under no obligation to and the reality is it will put them off. People shouldn't have prejudices, but they do. Just say 'illness', they don't need (or want) any more info than that.
You are effectively obliged to if they ask, because you might want to use it as an excuse/basis of a discrimination claim later.
Kinda difficult to just shrug and go eh..
You are obliged to because it can obviously affect you and your ability to work, if things end up going completely pear shaped (again) and you didn't tell them about it at the interview stage then you can expect a shitty reference/no reference once you get to applying for another job. Plus for those rare employers who aren't judgmental and prejudiced it means that they can put a framework in place and take it into account if they give you the job.
Much better job than the CV article, which was just plain insulting on far too many levels.
Most of the advice still falls under the category of "bloody obvious" though.
Also, you missed one. If they ask you a question on a topic to which you don't know the answer, replay in a clear tone "Honestly? I don't know". If you're honest you'll make a better impression than if you try to bullshit an answer on the spot.
As does "I was detained at HM Prison Slade". Even though, in theory, the interviewee has served their debt to society.
Mental illness has an unreasonable stigma attached to it. Many brilliant minds have suffered from one form or another (and who I to judge who or what is "normal" in any event?) It is difficult to ask "really, tell me about that..." for fear of being far too intrusive. My medical history is between my and my doctor.
The problem is, no matter how hard we try to suppress them, deep down we have many prejudices that bubble up and act on our subconsciousness. Which is, as a fellow above notes, why interviews are so shockingly bad at selecting the correct candidate.
How come you invite such unsuitable candidates to interview?
I've been on both sides of the interview table and quite frankly "playing the game" is in my experience the principal reason that the wrong pepole get hired. Both parties should be reasonably confident before the interview is even scheduled that they are a resonable match: the interview can only be a final sanity check. If you're discarding people as unemployable at the interview stage your process is missing some steps.
Don't forget the best candidate may not be desperate for your job. Unless they're unemployed, in danger of being unemployed or pathetically anxious to get out of a present job or get more money then the main purpose of the interview (for the candidate) is to find out whether they'd enjoy the job on offer and there's a reasonable chance that the job won't immediately disappear or morph into some brain-rotting droid role. Turning up in jeans and a t-shirt (if that's your habitual wok attire) and dealing with the interviewer(s) in the same way you would if they become your colleagues rather than as a helpless supplicant is a perfectly reasonable strategy to ensure the potential employer wasn't lying about the promised working environment and will deal with you honestly later on, If the recruiters aren't prepared to compromise on their arbitrary criteria to get the best candidate, they're not doing their job properly.
Mind you, recruiters could save everyone a great deal of time by specifying those arbitrary criteria up front. If they include "you will wear a suit", "we will ask you about your reading habits or other aspects of your personal life which are none of our business", "we will ask a nonsense question we read in a self-help book" or "we will ask you for a sample of your handwriting" then we know in advance where to avoid. Because, even today, an expletive in the face often offends.
"Because, even today, an expletive in the face often offends."
Some advice for interviewers would be useful, although I don't think Dominic is up to it, somehow. Not asking vague questions like "What is integration?" to someone who routinely integrates systems, for example, and generally wasting people's time. After a while you can tell when your own time is being wasted by recruiters and by employers who are only *considering* hiring someone and can persuade a few people to take some time out (perhaps near the end of the working day) to talk to people almost at random.
Dominic and pals may feel like the buck stops with the candidate being all sincere about a position, but the best interviews involve convincing the candidate that they are really needed and that they can really see themselves working there. It's completely possible to be offered a job because the interviewers have no real clue and end up thinking that they might as well hire you. Then, you have the awkward choice of blowing the thing away without anything else in the pipeline or starting in a job where your colleagues quite possibly are as clueless in other aspects of their work.
This article is spot on.
I agree totally. I didn't will all the points in his previous article, but what can you do.
An interview is all about selling you to the company looking to employ you.
You want to show how lucky they will be to if you accept the position. You do not want them to think that they will be taking a chance on you, instead they should be thinking of you as a sure thing.
I recall going for a tech support job an an online company. I impressed the interviers so much they called their boss in for the 2nd interview on the spot and they offered me more money than they advertised just so i would take the job.
I recall interviewing this guy for a network install and support tech. Part of his CV mentioned that he had setup his own network and installed the cables in the walls. When I asked himwhat IP range he was using and if he knew his gateway IP he looked at me like I was crazy..
"...turning up late is just so bad."
Hmm. I recall turning up for an interview with two people.
One was stuck in traffic due to a smash on the A3, the other was still sat in the fog on the tarmac at Brussels airport, so it was I who got to cool his heels in reception for some considerable time.
To their credit, the company concerned was apologetic and gave me the job.
The degree I'm studying is a course with a sandwich year out on placement. Right now we're all scurrying around making CVs, preparing presentations for mock interviews, and applying for the future placements that we'll be doing next year. Methinks the Personal and Professional Development tutor would like this article. I'm off to give her the URL, ta!
(my point from the last article's comments section about a strict 2 page CV limit still stands though. That ain't gonna happen unless I miss bits of my employment history.)
Turns out that she's a Reg reader too.
Apparently this and the "your CV sucks" articles are both very good articles in her opinion. She was going to give the URL to the entire year, but it was decided that the comments about not liking them darn forriners, while a fair comment, was not something the university could condone.
However, if a student were to email other students, that's not the uni's problem.
Dominic, take note. There's a rather large group of students here who would find your opinions useful, if you could make them a bit more PC (I know, yuck).
Two Page CV
I would disagree on the two page thing. TLDR would happen. How many jobs have you had to fill over two pages? Fifty? There's about 60 lines on two pages. I don't need an essay on every job. I get CVs from people who are nearing 60, with many past roles, they can CVs on to two pages quite effectively. They just compress some and tell me what I need to know.
You need to work out what is relevant to the job you are applying for, not doing a generic CV. Usually I care about the most recent things, so last two roles need the detail. If the job you are after is very similar to the third then write more there and trim others. If you are contracting - condense it a bit for older stuff. Say "contracting from X until Y" and some notes on the overall things you did (SQL, storage, whatever). Likewise, I don't really care about details of working as a paper delivery executive or other summer job. I care you got up and did it, not really what you were doing. One line. That's all you need.
In short - some can sit as one line, just employer, role, dates. I can ask if I want to know.
I have no interest in a list of your A levels or GCSEs. Tell me how many, and how many A grades. Even the ubiquitous 34 GCSEs 19 at Grade A, including English and Mathematics is fine. Don't do half a page list.
Note - this is just my preference, I tend to hire grads, and experienced non IT professionals
@ Yet Another Commentard
This seems to me to be the right (i.e. most informative) approach to presenting information on a CV. However, many organisations are determined to apply their own Procrustean bed to job applicants - the application form. So if you're a professional graduate you're faced with all those lovely big spaces for the school certificates you (may have) won decades ago at the chalk face, but there is no space to describe why the skills involved in bringing up your family, for example, are a sound basis for fulfilling the needs of the prospective employer.
To many recruiters, whether hired in or in-house, want to use open-ended, flexible - even farcical - criteria in interviews but written formats that are better described as "anal" than just restrictive.
The article tells it like it is, but it would be good to see a third article on the ways in which recruiters can help to make the whole application and recruitment process work better.
You missed one critical thing
Take an unredacted copy of your original/current CV along to the interview and hand it over before it starts - make sure you have enough to hand around if there is a panel.
It took me a good few "bad" interviews before I was told this (by a ex-techie recruiter) and it has never let me down yet.
Remember - the recruiter is trying to sell anyone for the job. Unlike you, he does not have time to write a CV tailored for the specific role you are applying for and his "stock" CV will reflect his idea of what is important not what you or your prospective employer think are important for that role. Even if he were technically skilled when he "joined the dark side" those skills will be invalid after only a few years and your CV and his "version" may differ radically.
The CV is the very first step in the interview process. It is often the basis for the interview and the discrepancies between the (sometimes faked) CV an agency fashions and what you originally wrote can wreck your chances at that perfect job in interview.
When I left Cray I spent a few weeks doing interviews with sometimes two or three interviews a day. At the time there were more jobs than people so agencies had no need to push staff but I ended up at interviews where the job was obviously not a fit. Taking your CV along ensure you do not get the blame for any such mismatches *before* you end up wasting the interviewer time.
Finally, the advice about the business research is important but if you appear to know more about the business or technology than those interviewing you, make your excuses and *leave*! The last interview I did this at was a certain maidenhead based speech to text company. I liked the company, its dieas etc but we all know what happened to them :-)
I've done three interviews in the last week, none of the interviewees bothered to even feign interest in the specialist area in which they will be working (storage/backup) let alone show enthusiasm. None of them had given any more than a cursory look at the company web site, one of them I worked with at a previous company was actually surprised to see me in the interview despite me managing the area the he will be working in and having my photo, name and a little blurb about me on the web site.
These are people who are supposed to be specialist in their field and at the top of their game. Pah.
Yeah mostly agree but
"it’s a tough market that may be getting worse"
Sorry but that's bollocks. I am still constantly hounded by recruiters for decent looking programming jobs (and some that are quite clearly crap of course) because I have a fair bit of experience and a good CV. If anything our market is getting even bigger because all the proles have realised that technology exists.
If you have skills and your current job is tolerable, a perspective employer needs to sell itself to you and you can be as picky as you like.
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