My week in Joblessness (4): Hey, interviewers! Here are a few things YOU’RE doing wrong [GoThinkBig column]

Published 28/06/2013 on GoThinkBig

My week in joblessness: hey interviewers, it's not just us! Here are a few things you're doing wrong...

“Dear appli-CAN’T,

Thank you for your interest. Due to the high volume of applications we receive, only successful candidates will be contacted. If you do not hear from us within two weeks, please assume you made some stupid error on your CV, and that your risibly incompetent covering letter has been forwarded to all staff for an afternoon laugh.”

Said no employer, ever – but that’s what we see. So we go straight to the self-help articles. Five mistakes to avoid on your covering letter, most common CV blunders, eighty things you should never do in an interview…all useful stuff. But is it necessarily all our fault? Why are we the only ones jumping through hoops? We never did a GCSE in hoop-jumping – now it’s a skill we use daily. It’s like we trained for 11 years to play chess and ended up on an episode of Takeshi’s Castle.

Among the 900 or so applicants to every job are often dozens who could do the job well. It’s not as if they have to trawl through 894 covering letters written in crayon, beginning, “Dear whatever mag this is, gizza job!” to uncover the only six candidates who wouldn’t bring their cat to the interview. Plenty of other applicants are just as capable as you, but only one can win the raffle. Repeat until you sob: it’s not your fault. (Add “probably” at your own discretion.)

We’ve all read the posts detailing the hundreds of things we’re doing wrong. So, in the interests of fairness – interviewers: here’s where YOU’RE going wrong…

Forcing us to talk like those bellends on The Apprentice

“If you were an animal, what would you be?” Two HTBJ readers told me they’ve been asked this in an interview. What better way to discuss a candidate’s qualities than having them assemble some tenuous word play? “I’d be an ant, because I’m hardworking and can carry ten times my weight.” “I’d be a sloth, because I’m slow-moving yet oddly impervious to predators.” “I’d be a slug, because I exude a sticky translucent goo behind me.”

One reader was asked to detail a time he’d “engineered a win-win outcome”. Presumably he was applying for the position of Win-Win Coordinator, and had to show his win-win credentials, plus his certificate from the Academy of Winning. The test, I suppose, was to see if he’d walk out, engineering the win-win outcome of him not having to work for a fleet of douche-canoes and them not having to pay sick leave for an eye-rolling injury.

Stealing our ideas

You know we read your publication, right? So when you ask us for three pitches in the application, we notice when they pop up later, with your staff writer’s byline. Was there even a job going, or was the editorial team just stumped for ideas this month?

So, employers, if you want to impress applicants, at least send a, “Sorry, no – but thanks for the ideas. Sincerely, a publication you used to respect”.

And screw, may we add, you.

Asking us questions we were going to ask you

“What would a typical day in this job entail?” Seems like a pretty innocuous question, but it isn’t. We’re onto you, interviewers. It suggests you’re not interested in anyone who needs on-the-job training. You want us to know the job inside out already – so, graduates, prepare to do a lot of internships or guess like a Jedi.

Also, what answer do you expect? A list of journalisty tasks – or do you want us to take your job ad, packed with words like “streamline”, “integrate distribution” and “collate social media platforms”, and put it through the de-fluffer we brought with us? What an excellent use of everyone’s time – turn plain English into bullshit and have the interviewee translate it back.

Not coming prepared

A popular bullet point on lists of mistakes WE make, interviewers who waste our time by turning up unprepared are particularly irksome. Especially since we’re expected to be able to reel off every feature you’ve run since the invention of the printing press. If you want to stand out from other interviewers, you’ll have to do a bit better than turning up with our CV still warm from the printer and questions you made up in the lift.

The worst thing about unprepared interviewers is they go on the defensive. A cursory glance reveals the applicant has been to a good university – “I see you’ve been to Fancypants Uni, are you only about the academics? What actual experience do you have? Get out.”

Also, interviewers, don’t disguise your lack of preparation with absurd hypotheticals like, “Number 10’s on the phone, the person they’re after is out of the office, how do you establish a rapport?” “If you were asking someone what animal they would be and why, what animal would you think is a good answer, and why?” “If you had a large boil on your backside, would you wait for it to go away or should I see a doctor?”

We’re interviewing you, too

It’s easy to see how interviewers can get cocky. They’re buyers in a buyer’s market. But still, interviewers – lose the attitude. Sometimes you’re so condescending its almost as if you think we’re arrogant for showing up. May we remind you – you invited us?

And quit the presumptive questions. A reader tells me one of you asked her, “How many languages do you speak?” The poor girl had to reply, “Just the one.” Would it really be so terrible to frame it as, “Do you speak any other languages?” What next? “Tell me about a time you baked a batch of cookies and brought them in for everyone in the office”?

Well, that’s about it, interviewers.

Thank you for your interest in The Jobless. Due to the high volume of interviews we receive, only successful employers will be GoThinkBigcontacted. If you do not hear from us within two weeks, please assume you made some stupid error and that your risibly incompetent interviewing style has been forwarded to the #Pyjarmy for an afternoon laugh.

This was reblogged by Australian site 50 Shades of Unemployment

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9 thoughts on “My week in Joblessness (4): Hey, interviewers! Here are a few things YOU’RE doing wrong [GoThinkBig column]

    • Thanks! Funny post, I particularly like the idea of wearing pyjamas under my interview clothes. Keeping my #Pyjarmy uniform on for when I go from “interviewee” to “jobless, staring at inbox”.

  1. As a marathon (Australian) unemploymentista in search of some therapy, I’m glad I found your blog. As for interviews, I put my $2 worth in a post: The Trouble With Interviews – http://50shadesofunemployment.blogspot.com.au/2012/09/the-trouble-with-interviews-wish.html

    Would you ever consider writing a guest post for my blog: 50 Shades of Unemployment? – as I am running out of things to say about my own joblessness. Alternatively, I would love being able to repost your work on my blog, with your permission, I would celarly identify your authorship, and provide links back to this site.

    Best Regards,
    Carmen
    Blog: 50 Shades of Unemployment

  2. Pingback: How to be jobless: a blog | Inner City Stinge

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  5. Pet peeve: Interviewers who say their company’s great at giving feedback and then three weeks later (after much chasing up) you receive a “You were good but someone else was better” style reply. Well, duh! Has happened to me three times.

    • Charming. Equally charming are the rejection emails I receive lately (from the Australian Education Dept) where – after first telling you politely what a disappointment you were – Madame HR then immediately provides you with the actual name of the person that got the job. Now interviewers – whatever happened to confidentiality – AND, unless it’s a new prime minister/or whatevs – who really needs or wants to know who the successful applicant is?? It’s too much information interviewers.

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