Resume and Interview Madness

I’ve gone through well over 100 resumes and conducted over 35 interviews during the past month. I enjoy this part of my job a lot although it oftentimes feels like I’m looking for a needle in a haystack.

Many candidates are so used to explaining why they left their last job, what their weaknesses are and where they want to be in five years they don’t know what to do when asked a question they’ve never heard before.  So when I interview I think of two or three questions the interviewee likely hasn’t been asked and watch how they react. Here are a few questions I’ve asked:

  • What blogs do you read and why?
  • What is the one thing this company does better than anyone else?
  • Tell me about the last company that provided you with fantastic service.

I’d reckon that the law of thirds applies to those I interview: 1/3 = Good, 1/3 = Weird, 1/3 = Forgettable. I understand some will become nervous when a job is on the line and make mistakes, but here are a few of the more interesting things I came across:

  • Several people showed up over an hour before their scheduled time.
  • One person forgot to write his name on the application yet wrote his City, State and Zip down twice.
  • One person showed up for a second interview in ragged jeans and a sweatshirt to interview with my manager.
  • One person admitted he was a C student in college because he was there for the social life, not merely the classes.
  • One  recent college grad with little experience submitted a 5 page resume.
  • Several email addresses didn’t give off a good first impression. I saw several with words like “party”, “hunk”, and “vixen” in them.
  • One person brought 7 letters of recommendation to the interview and asked if he could read a few out loud to me.
  • Several people forgot to turn off their phones.
  • One person asked to see the “company shirts”.
  • One person asked our receptionist if she had a Yellow Pages he could borrow to locate the addresses for a few past employers.
  • My Favorite: One guy asked how “extensive” the required drug test is.

Most people I bring in are good people, and I enjoy getting to know them. It’s not easy when I find someone I really like as a person, but know they wouldn’t be a good fit for the company. And it’s never fun calling someone to explain they didn’t get the job. I remember when I was a newly minted college graduate making the interview rounds. Some companies were respectful and kind even when declining to hire me. Others like Enterprise Rent A Car were so condescending and disrespectful that I decided then and there that I’d never give them a dime. And that was 14 years ago.

If I could give people looking for a job three interview tips they would be:

  1. Act like you WANT the job. Show some emotion and passion! All things being equal, I’ll choose the person who wants it more.
  2. Be able to articulate at least 2 things you do very well and give memorable examples to back them up.
  3. Instead of sending me a bland resume, send a short cover letter with your blog address.