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So, my recent absence from blogging, tweeting, pinning etc has been due partly to long wild nights of heart-pulsing, spine-tingling interviews, after trawling through masses and masses of job applications. I know, I know – a pastime worthy of many an enviable Facebook update and Instagrammed pictures of poses outshone by a pout, a tilt of the head, and a thrust of the hips – but it would have been too mean to subject people to those ecstatic rendezvous.

Image: Jef Bettens (stock.xchang)

But, to be honest, it wasn’t all sweaty palms and dilated pupils; there were indeed many things that my partners-in-crime did that drove me insane (not in a good way!). So, to make up for my self-indulgent nights not blogging, I have compiled a list of the seven things that job interviewees can do to drive an interviewer to jump off the Great Wall of China – that’s if they have failed to unplug the interviewee first. Most of my interviews were conducted over Skype, but this list would apply equally to face-to-face, in-person interviews:

1. Arriving late and acting as though nothing has happened: look, sh*t happens, and sometimes, despite all your best intentions, you are late for the interview. I am human, I know that, and I am sympathetic to it (once only! See point 4 below). However, if you insist on irking me: (a) don’t call or email to tell me in advance that you are running late (it amuses me to no end to be reminded of my inability to tell time, when an interviewee calls me at 10.30am to say that he is running late for a 10am interview), and (b) probably worse still, turn up late and act as if you are not late – you are not a Jedi knight, and I am not looking for troops.  Apologise for being late (I don’t necessarily need to hear the excuse – this time). Better still, thank the interviewer for making the time to speak to you despite your being late (remember, there is a good chance that I have back-to-back interviews and if the next interviewee is not late, then you’ve already got one strike against your name as compared to theirs!).

2. Idle chit-chat messaging – when you have arrived late: this is specific to Skype interviews. If you’ve arrived late, cut the idle chit-chat messaging before the Skype call. This behaviour is akin to arriving late to a face-to-face interview, then standing at the interview room door and talking about the weather.  If you are late to a Skype call, message a quick “hello”, apologise for being late, then jump onto the Skype call. You can, if you feel the need, do pleasantries and explain your lateness on the call.

3. Having the wrong people at the interview: if I have informed you in advance which people in your team I want to interview, it’s not because I get bored easily and I need the distraction. If I have requested specific people, make sure those people turn up. I don’t care to speak to the “project leader” if that project leader is unable to answer my technical questions. If my project is worth your time to work on, then I would expect that having the right persons attend the interview is worth your time too.

4. Arriving late to subsequent interviews: I have forgiven you for arriving late to one interview (otherwise I wouldn’t have invited you for a subsequent interview), but arriving late to subsequent interviews?? … You really had better have a darned good excuse this time! So in this case: DO call in advance to tell me that you are running late. DO have a good excuse (although it’ll be hard to top the excuse given for the first interview: that your wife went into labour!). DO apologise. And DO NOT make any idle chit-chat before the interview! The point is, if you are late, you are disrespecting my time. And, as far as I am concerned, my time is much more important to me, than your time! Ok, I think I’ve made enough of the lateness point … I hope you get my drift.

5. Being unfamiliar with the job requirements: one of the most effective ways to display your disinterest in a job is to do as little research about the job requirements as possible. Don’t read the project brief, or if you do, and the project brief contains URLs with lots of background information about the project, don’t click on the URLs – and make sure your team mates don’t read them either. You guessed right, I live for those moments when I can sit in an interview while you read through the project brief; I mean, it’s only in these moments of quiet that I find time to file down that nail on my left index finger…

Image: Christie Merrell (stock.xchng)

 6. Being a “yes” man with no solid validation: as a potential employer, I assume that most people can type “yes”, and even more people can SAY the word “yes”. But that’s not really why I’ve put aside an hour of my time to sit and speak with you. I’m speaking to you because I want to hear you explain to me HOW you can do it… My open-ended questions are intended to give you the opportunity to explain your understanding to me. Even more so, my seemingly most basic questions are asked, not because I do not know the answer (I’ve probably heard the answer from multiple interviewees already), but they are a chance for you to show me the depth of your knowledge. I understand that there may be confidentiality issues, but if you tell me that you are unable to explain it for confidentiality reasons, my interviewer translator will interpret that to mean that you do not have a solution for me. Fail. Next!

7. Being a “no” man, and not offering an alternative: so there may be times when things cannot be done (although I am of the creed that very few things fall within that bucket!), but if you are going to dash my hopes and break my heart: (a) explain why it is not possible (and simply saying “it is not technically possible” is not adequate), and   (b) offer an alternative solution (if I can’t have Gosling, then offer me Gyllenhaal with an occasional rendezvous with Franco). Even if it means the end result will be slightly different to what I had originally wanted, at least it displays a desire to solve my problem and to be adaptive.

So there you are. The dark side to the enviable craziness of the last few weeks. It hasn’t all be roses and perfume! What interviewee habits drive you insane?

bisous, mon ami