Bring on the victims…I mean candidates

Martina HaagSo recently I have been interviewing people for a job in my team.   I regularly get asked to perform technical interviews for a number of teams, not just my own it has to be said…it goes without saying that some of the people you end up interviewing would struggle to get out of bed in the morning, let alone get a job in IT.

SP and I invariably carry them out together, and spend most of our time sending little messages to each other over Google Chat..normally about if an answer was good etc…it works well doing this as SP knows immediately if we should proceed to the next stage with the candidate and the candidate doesn’t have to wait around for a decision.

It does however, allow for us to have a little fun when we are dealing with a particularly bad candidate…

In no particular order, I give you my top 3 favourite candidates of recent times…

Candidate 1:
After being told at length that the team is very technical and experienced…comparable to most companies next level of support, this guy continuously asked for reassurances that he wouldn’t be a secretary.   After the fourth time of asking, I actually had to say “for the fourth time, this job is nothing like that”.   This guy also seemed to be the subject of a man-hunt as it sounded like he was running alongside a motorway with various Police sirens going off around him.   When SP was going through his post-interview speech about giving feedback to the agency…my statement was “Feedback will contain the phrase, Candidate should just end it all and jump off the motorway bridge he is so clearly standing on”

Candidate 2:
2 weeks ago I interviewed a guy so bad at computers, I was almost disgusted that the blatant lies on his CV had fooled us.   Bearing in mind that the job is general support, having someone tell me that he is a database specialist halfway through the interview…and then have him fail a basic database question…kind of concerned me a little.   He was so bad, SP had to hide the phone as he was genuinely concerned he was going to laugh.   He did once, but managed to cover it up with a cough.   Suffice to say that my conversation on chat with SP was cut short as he started to do his post-interview statements…he said he couldn’t risk seeing what I was going to say whilst he was trying to talk.

Candidate 3:
I loved this guy, for no other reason than he had balls.   I asked him a question, which was by no means a requirement to have the answer as it is something we train everyone on anyway.   Anyway, the answer was “I don’t really know anything about that”.   I said not to worry, but does he know anything at all about it.   Then nothing, silence on the phone…I could hear a faint click-clacking in the background…after literally 2 minutes I had to ask if he was still there….at which point he reeled off the answer in it’s entirety..completely telling me everything about what I had asked…to a level that I couldn’t do from the top of my head and I hold certification in this topic.   Google for the win I suppose.

If you are going to be having an interview, here are a couple of top tips:

Know your own CV – I know that sometimes agencies don’t give all the information about a particular role, so knowing the job you are applying for might be hard…but you should really know what is on your CV..and therefore be able to answer questions on topics relating to it.

Remember who you are talking to – Again, telephone interviews can be quite full of information, but try and remember who introduces themselves.   Calling me John does not give a good impression.

If you don’t know…don’t lie – This should be fairly straightforward, but apparently not.   I am by no means an auditor, and I deliberately don’t make the questions unnecessarily technical, but I will know when you have a genuine idea of a subject and when you are making things up.   I will call you on it, you will look foolish….you won’t get the job.   Simple really.

Try not to panic – Especially if I end the interview relatively quickly.   Ending the interview quickly does not mean that you have failed (it can…but not always).   I just need to get information enough to make a decision, with some people that takes 5 minutes, with others…an hour.   The key thing to remember, if you are being interviewed…you have already been accepted as being capable of doing the job on the strength of your CV…you just have to confirm what I already think.

I will be honest though and say that there are definitely two sides to me during an interview, and they are normally set pretty early on.   SP calls them Teddy Bear and Evil.   If someone pisses me off real quick into the interview, or fails on pretty much any of my top tips points….Evil Dave turns up and won’t give you a break…normally though, Teddy Bear Dave is there and will be all cuddly and nice…I may even help you out on questions and reassure you.   Just be careful which one you force to arrive…..

Interviews going badly are not always the fault of the candidate though.   I had to hang up 5 minutes into an interview last year as Zak had fallen and badly hurt his head in the park.   Trying to explain that rapidly on the phone to a candidate to whom English was not their first language was fun the say the least.     I also got caught out by AV..basically, I had a lot of fairly technical questions prepared and I swear it was like he had the sheet in front of him.   I couldn’t trip him up at all (and that never happens)…essentially I started floundering around and making questions up on the fly..which never goes well.   Actually, I would take that as a good sign of a successful interview, but what he must have been thinking is beyond me.   The least he must of thought is “holy crap, how technical is this job”…the most would have been “who is this stuttering idiot!”

Anyone need a job?

All interviewers are bastards.


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