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BOB LANKARD: A bad job interview

by on April 21, 2013 1:50 AM

Be on time. Research your employer. Act professionally. These are instructions job seekers hear all the time. But what if the interviewer disobeys all the rules?

Late or no show. Normally the interview is scheduled at the place of business. If you have not been called after 10 or 15 minutes, inquire with one of the other staffers.

“Am I correct in understanding I have an interview with Mr. Big at 10 a.m.?”

This is a non-accusatory way of finding out what is happening.

Illegal Questions

It was once common to ask, “How old are your kids” or “what happened to your leg.” These are now illegal, but still occasionally get asked. Some feel the need to be confrontational, but I lean toward deflecting the issue by asking a question. “What qualities do you look for in someone to do this job?” Swallow your sense of injustice and stay calm.

Unprofessional Behavior

There instances of interviewers eating their lunch or talking on the phone while conducting an interview. The job seeker could ask if it might be better if they came back at another time.

Stress interview

This may not be inappropriate or illegal. Sometimes when a job’s duties are stressful, the interviewer becomes very aggressive to see how the applicant reacts in a stressful situation. It’s a time for the job seeker to take a deep breath and realize that the interviewer is deliberately testing you.

Cut short

You come to the interview with some points you want to make and some questions you want to answer. On the other hand, the interviewer seems to be in an unusual hurry. One tactic would be to save these points or questions for your thank-you letter. Another way would be to ask if you could summarize the ways you are right for this position or ask some concluding questions.

Uninformed

You have thoroughly researched the employer, but the interviewer does not have a clue about you. This is why I advise taking two resumes with you. Hand the interviewer one and suggest that “we review my background together.”

“His office is a long way from the floor” was an expression I heard used to describe someone with hiring authority who did not know the functions of frontline employees. I was paired with an interviewer from a manufacturing concern who was not familiar with the various production machines. This can create a problem in the job interview. Miss Manners had a maxim: “The rudest thing you can do is call attention to the other person’s rudeness.” Resist the urge to give the interviewer a lesson in machine shop 101. Ask the interviewer if an interview with the immediate supervisor is part of the hiring process.

It is a common practice for companies to assign interviewing duties to the most expendable management employee. Thus the person you may encounter on the other side of the desk may be the newest employee.



Bob Lankard, a retired employment specialist at the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry's Indiana Job Center, is a job-search columnist for the Indiana Gazette. Read his columns on Sundays.
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