Author’s Note: I am pleased to report that I have obtained at least temporary employment in the technical writing field, commencing next Monday (March 9). But the experience of being interviewed–which I don’t participate in very often–is fresh in my mind as I ponder the whole process.
In my recent experience related to securing new employment in the wake of my former employer ripping the rug out from under us in January, I am reminded of something I authored several years ago. Its relevance has not diminished in my mind. It is what I call the Miranda Rights for Job Interviewees, and should be prominently posted in every H.R. office or other room where interviews take place. The “rights” read as follows:
You do not have the right to remain silent. Everything you say, everything you don’t say and everything we believe you should have said can and will be used against you in the hiring decision.
You do not have the right to speak to anyone before we bombard you with questions. You do not have the right to a lawyer or anyone else present during questioning. And if you cannot afford a lawyer, working here is not going to help you in that regard either.
Although I am very pleased that I somehow succeeded at the interview game, I am not sure that interviews are the best tools to determine one’s fitness for a job opening. I am convinced, however, that H.R. is much more concerned about avoiding a bad hire than hiring the best for the position. After all, if they reject an excellent candidate, they will never know. But a bad hire can reverberate for years.
I look at interviews much the same way I look at Presidential debates. Both situations measure abilities that are completely irrelevant to the actual job in question. Winning the debate or interview depends on the right “sound bite.” I have been on both sides of the interview table and admittedly I have honed in on something said (usually something I perceived as negative), hoping the interviewee will dig themselves a deeper hole and make my job of sizing up the candidate that much easier.
What would I advise people going into interviews? Be yourself, be honest, be direct, and be brief with all questions. Don’t answer questions that weren’t asked. If you go into the interview trying to be someone else, you’re going to have to figure out how to continue being that someone else if you land the job. Better they hire the real you than some character you chose to play in the interview.