back to article Think your CV is crap? Your interview skills are worse

The applicant stared like a rabbit caught in headlights at the interviewer. shutterstock_job_interview_in_story Image via Shutterstock He did not have a clue how to answer the question, so he decided to mumble something unintelligible because it would help him sound more clever as he racked his brain. Was it a fearsome …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Martin 66
    Thumb Up

    Spot On

    I think this artivle is spot on, just like the previous ione about CVs. Mr Connor is telling it like it is in the industry - if you dont like it, its not his fault you just need to learn to play the game. If you dont like the game because you feel it is unjust ? Tough, thats life, get over it.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Happy

      Yes, reality works that way, but can I bring a cosh to the interview?

  2. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Well, that's ONE half of the process sorted

    Interviews work both ways. if we were to believe the article (which we shouldn't) you would get the unmistakable impression that somehow the interview process was akin to winning the lottery. That somehow the interviewers were GIVING AWAY something of value, and that only the best, most worthy applicant should be allowed through to win the prize.

    In fact, as every half-decent candidate knows the interview should be as much about selling the company to the prospective employee (who should spend as much time looking for reasons why the company is / is not one they'd want to work for, as they do trying to sell themselves) and persuading them that they'd want to work there. While some people think the application and interview process is some form of courtship (yup, one or other could end up getting screwed), it's better to think of it as a chance to perform due diligence on your potential new provider of money. If they are unable or unwilling to go to the effort to make you feel they want you, personally, then you're probably just going to end up as a soon-forgotten cog in their faceless machine - and will be treated in employment just as the "asset" or "FTE" or "headcount" that you appear as during the interview - or to your current employer.

    1. Hollerith 1

      You are winning a lottery, but with skilled testing questions

      An employer who believes in his company, thinks it's great, and wants good people in it, does think that you are beign given an opportunity and a privilege to work for the organisation, and that, plus your wages, is part of the prize.

      If you are smart, you will appear to consider the chance to work for THIS company as a really great opportunity. And if you actually believe it, you will have a happy working life.

      But if you think your employer is there to give you money, then you wil start and remain unhappy.

      Yes, an interview is a two-way process, but one of the partners has a lot more power.

    2. Anonymous Coward 15
      Paris Hilton

      "yup, one or other could end up getting screwed"

      But in which hole?

    3. Jim 59

      Job Market

      @Pete 2. It depends on the state of the job market. Your post might apply in a jobseeker's market, ie. where there are more vacancies than candidates. But when the reverse is true, I would advise treating the prospective employer like royalty, rather than as "your potential new provider of money". In fact I would approach all interviews like that. First get the job offer, then scrutinize the employer and the terms.

      I agree strongly with the point about admitting frankly to not knowing something. If needs be you can politely add that you know where to find the answer.

      1. Pete 2 Silver badge

        It depends on the state of the job market.

        Well, yes and no. I'm not suggesting you put the interviewer through the wringer - it's only on TV that "The Apprentice" style interviews and selection process would be tolerated. But it's not unreasonable to ask to meet the people you'll be working with, or to see the office conditions. You could even ask what a typical day's work actually involves (one place I was conducting group interviews, a candidate asked me "what did you do yesterday?" - not an easy Q to respond to _and_ make the place sound attractive at the same time).

        Another theme that can provide some enlightenment is to inquire about how the vacancy arose: what's staff turnover like (but maybe be a bit more subtle in the approach), how long your prospective boss has been doing the job - essentially trying to find out if you'll be working for an idiot, since your immediate boss is usually the biggest factor in whether an IT position is good, bad or ugly.

    4. LaeMing

      I'd agree

      but be careful with one's attitude. Rather than 'what can your company do for me?' one of 'What can this position do for the best candidate' (with the unspoken implication that the best candidate is you) might be a good approach.

  3. Velv
    Flame

    The flamers are the one's who just don't get it...

    I remember a classic example of those who just don't get it. In a previous support role one of my teamates was told he was being sent on a Customer Care course.

    "CUSTOMER CARE COURSE. WHAT THE FUCK DO I NEED A CUSTOMER CARE COURSE FOR!!!!!!"

    When you sit on the bus, and you can't see the weirdo, congratulations, you're the weirdo.

    Those who understand the rules of the game are those getting the promotions. Those who argue the advice in this article is shit.... HELLO!!!!!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      We know the rules of the game. (You all just lost, by the way.)

      That doesn't mean the rules are fair and unbiased.

      1. Aaron Em

        Well how fucking heartbreaking

        Nobody took me aside on my way out of mum and told me life'd be fair. For that matter, if life were going to be fair, I wouldn't have nearly died on my way out of mum, but that's moot -- and so is your whining.

        I know, I know, you've been raised on nothing but Whig history and you really do believe in your secret heart of hearts that life really *could* be fair if only everyone else in the world would stop coming up with excuses not to be as good a person as you yourself are. The quicker you figure out what bullshit that is and come to grips with the world as you actually find it, rather than distracting and infuriating yourself with these puerile fantasies of the world as you want it, the better off you'll be -- and so will the rest of us, too, because those of us who *have* grown up can stop worrying about what'll happen if the whiny children among us manage to tear down everything their forebears have built.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @Aaron

          Or perhaps candidates, recruiters and employers could give each other a bit of honest feedback after the interview. There are gains to be made from that beyond giving the commenter something to cry into their tea over. But flaming's good too, I guess.

          1. Aaron Em

            Great idea

            Let me know how many HR departments you manage to sell it to. (That pesky "deal with the world as you find it" thing again, you know.)

    2. Marvin the Martian

      Dear Velv,

      There often is more than one weirdo on the bus, so spotting one doesn't tell you anything about yourself.

      What if the one weirdo on the bus gets up and leaves? Are you now the weirdo? Is everybody suddenly the weirdo to themselves? Or are you trying some pop psych analogy and it's all going horribly wrong?

      On topic of the article though, Mr Magic has apparently taken the comments to heart and tries to come across as reasonable. Pity, where's the fun now?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A bit one sided?

    Indeed all true.

    Now what about all the interviewers who have no training in recruitment, ask questions so stupid that they can't be answered and are already weighing you up as a potential threat to their job?

    How many interviewees have desperately tried to help the interviewer conduct the interview in a manner which will actually assess their suitability for the role?

    How many interviewers have lied to hire someone on a false pretext? More or less than dishonest candidates?

    1. P Saunders

      Stupidest interviewer question I've encountered...

      "If you could be any animal, what animal would you be?"

      This piece of arse sausage has come up time and again, usually asked by the most brainless HR people you could imagine (they got their job because daddy owns the company or they give the CEO good head). What the fuck this has to do with a person's ability is beyond me. And don't anyone dare say that it gives the interviewer insight into the job applicant's psyche - these HR drones have, at best, a certificate from some shit dump business college, and sure as hell not a psych degree otherwise they wouldn't be doing a job that entails little more than sending out birthday e-mails and handing out written warnings.

      1. Marvin the Martian

        Or the "stress interview" technique.

        All read in some manager's self-help book, implemented, and decreasing the quality of hirees.

        I'm still not sure what to do with such questions. Answering is by definition irrelevant babbling. Tell them as much and they feel bad and don't hire you.

        Enough decent firms (unis also, typically) are strangled by their incompetent HR departments, that you have to put up with it to possibly work there.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        If you say "a cat"

        supposedly it means you're lazy. I wonder if their copy of "Interviewing for Dummies" mentions anything about catching mice or pooping in the neighbour's garden.

      3. Cliff

        It's not about the answer...

        It's about how you consider and respond to leftfield problems. Do you panic and fluster? Do you consider and give a single definitive answer with no backup? Do you find out *why* the question was asked, and help the question-raiser narrow down their question to find their motivations in order to give them the most suitable answer possible? Do you work methodically and come up with a good estimate?

        People behave consistently, so if you're a flusterer in this question, it's a good indication that you may not respond well to stressful circumstances at work.

        Next time someone asks you 'How many cars are there in London?', they don't care what your answer is, they want to see how you think when you're away from rehearsed interview answers.

        1. JEDIDIAH
          Linux

          It's an indicator of poor corporate culture...

          > People behave consistently, so if you're a flusterer in this question, it's a good indication that you may not respond well to stressful circumstances at work.

          If you have to deal with this kind of nonsense in the interview, chances are that you will have to deal with similar nonsense on the job. It's a sign of bad corporate culture and a company best avoided.

          You've got to ask yourself if you are really that desperate.

      4. Pete 2 Silver badge

        "If you could be any animal, what animal would you be?"

        It sounds like your interviewer had been on a course but slept through a lot of it. That's one part of a question sometimes used by psychometric testing people. The answer you give is not important. The follow-on is "give me a few words that describe <your animal>".

        The insight (for want of a better term) is that the response you give will describe how you see yourself. Other questions probe: how you think other people see you and how you relate to others. The same kind of interviewers may also ask you to write something and then do a pop-psych analysis of your handwriting.

        Whether you think there's anything in it, or it's down there with astrology probably doesn't matter (apart from telling yourself that you wouldn't work for a company that employed those sorts of techniques). However it can be a good way to pick up grils if you ever find yourself having to move the cooker. Nowadays there are far more scientific ways to discern a person's personality, such as looking on FB or seeing what forums they post comments on.

        1. Asgard
          Happy

          @Pete 2, "If you could be any animal, what animal would you be?"

          Anyone who asked me that would get a Rock-paper-scissors answer, (in the style of Sword in the Stone), where I would pick increasing bizarre animals to trump whatever animal they picked, (and I would make them pick one) until both of us descended into a fantasy world. :)

          I wouldn't care if I got the job, I would just have fun playing the game. :) … after all, they started it. ;)

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        If you could be any animal, what animal would you be?

        Guinea pig, no contest.

        Google "hello sooty"

      6. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        "If you could be any animal, what animal would you be?"

        Human. Do you really have to ask?

        Look around. Every other animal's habitat is getting totally screwed to make way for humans. Every habitat we've ever moved into, we've driven the top predators to extinction. The majority of macroscopic animals on the planet exist only because we farm them.

        Obviously you wouldn't want to be a *poor* human, but that wasn't the question.

      7. Benchops

        Easy

        Just say "When I was a cat I found I *did* have the capability to become any animal so I chose to be a human, as you can clearly see." (optional: roll eyes)

      8. Windrose
        Happy

        Tech.

        Well, you are presumably some sort of at-least-appears-to-be-an-engineer, so give the engineering response:

        "I take it you mean some sort of non-human animal, Sir/Ma'am?"

        Then walk. Life's too short.

    2. Steven Roper
      Go

      Re: what animal would I be?

      I've been asked this a few times in my careers, both in interviews and in company psych tests, and I have a single stock answer, that generally really throws people. If I could be any animal, what animal would I be?

      A cockroach.

      The look on people's faces when I say this cannot be described in mere words. When they ask me why I would want to be a cockroach, I also have my answer prepared:

      Cockroaches *survive*. That is what they do, and it is what they are best at. They are an ancient species; they have survived through multiple extinction events, including the Permian/Triassic and Cretaceous/Tertiary, and they survive despite anything bigger than them preying on them, and they would survive the worst Man can do to them, including nuclear warfare. And I like to think of myself as a survivor, someone who can hang on despite whatever is thrown at me.

      That answer has floored more than one interviewer. And I'm pretty sure it's played a role in getting me a few jobs, too.

      1. Chris007
        Boffin

        downvote

        No idea why you've had a down vote for that - though it was a great comment

        (perhaps you should have attached the following icon)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Downvote

          Come on, "Cockroaches survive and I'm a survivor", is positively cringeworthy. I can almost imagine him entering the interview with a ghettoblaster blaring out Eye of the Tiger or maybe he minces in to "I will survive". Either way, a definite down vote.

          Also his last paragraph.

          >That answer has floored more than one interviewer. And I'm pretty sure it's played a role in getting me a few jobs, too.

          This might be an example questin from a text book, I've never been asked it and I can't believe that he's been asked so many times that he's sealed "a few jobs" with the answer.

          1. Mike Flugennock
            Coat

            DUHN...chunka chunka chunka DUHNN DUH DUHNN...

            "I can almost imagine him entering the interview with a ghettoblaster blaring out Eye of the Tiger..."

            Wow... y'know, that's actually a pretty cool idea...! I never thought of that...

            Y'know how all those big-time WWF wrestlers all have their own "entrance music" when they come down the aisle to the ring? I forget who started it... there was one in the late '80s who actually did enter the ring to "Eye Of The Tiger" -- I think it may have been Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka.

            But, anyway, yeah... come in with your iPod hooked up to a little pair of speakers in your jacket pockets as you walk into the interviewer's office. Fuck YEEAAAHHHH.

            DUHN... chunka chunka chunka DUHN DUHH DUHN... chunka chunka chunka...

            Welll-llll... OK, maybe not.

            Still, you have to admit it would've been a really great League Of Gentlemen sketch.

      2. Kubla Cant Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Survivors

        So your ambition in life is just to survive, even if you have to live under a fridge and eat crap? You don't sound very ambitious.

        I think you're confusing the impressive record of the cockroach species with that of an individual cockroach.

      3. HP Cynic

        Love it though the fact Cockroaches have some extra resistance to radiation has actually been proven not just a myth but if anything they are more vulnerable to it.

        Sure the species would survive somewhere underground but those above ground would die like everything else!

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Personally it sounds like a dreadful answer. I'm not sure in an interview you should be talking about "surviving", "hanging on despite whatever is thrown at me". Are you really saying that our company is like that? Are you really saying that the best you do is to merely survive, hang on, and be a parasite, rather than being elegant, liked, creative etc..?

        Cockroaches are easily crushed underfoot. Not sure as I'd want that on my team.

  5. Jean Le PHARMACIEN
    Thumb Up

    ...and working in local government.

    I work in the NHS; is that worse or better?.

    My wife used to be head of technical section of [a clinical department] the NHS. She regularly interviewed for new posts; both student technical entry and qualified. From her descriptions of interviewees, I recognise every single one of the 'crimes' in the article.

    Major downer was people not turning up...and not ringing to say they were not attending. Needless to say, having wasted interviewing panel time, they were blacklisted for future interviews.

    No homework on the department; vague about job being interviewed for; poor personal presentation (suits/business-like appearance please even if you will be wearing a uniform after appointment); slouching in the interview - tick - all present.

    As the article says - you are selling yourself to the panel, (who have probably taken time out of busy schedules to interview) so do the homework and do yourself justice

    As for "...and working in local government"; almost all our ex-council employees left our NHS department after a couple of months. Reason: "too stressful"; "had to work at weekends"....

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ... until you dissed working in Local Government, not all staff are useless and some do get value out of the work they accomplish, it's just unfortunate that the majority of crap hires in Local Gov all tend to be incompetent managers, the frontline staff tend to do their job well despite the lack of decent management.

  7. GeorgeTuk
    Happy

    I love the very last sentence...

    ...great ending!

    And so much of the rest of it was true too.

  8. BoldMan

    Okay this article wasn't bad, at least not as condescending, arrogant and knobish as the previous one and does in fact contain some useful information. The most important thing to do in an interview in my experience, is try to relax, keep calm and avoid talking too much bullshit. As techies we are NOT salesmen so we don't have the same bullshit skills they use so readily. Be prepared at the interview, find out something about the company and their products. Try to prepare a question in advance that makes it look as though you've made an effort, and even if that question is answered during the interview before you get to ask it, make a point of saying something like I was interested in that and was going to ask you more about it... or something.

    In the interview it is all about you. There are no moronic recruiters to get in the way anymore, this time it you. The "trivial shit" DOES matter: cleanliness, punctuality, interest and poiteness. You may be the most brilliant coder in the world, but if you smell bad, you won't get a job in a office where there are people with noses!

    1. Jedit

      Techies aren't salesmen?

      You are if you work at PC World, apparently. Their "interview exam" for tech support staff used to include a question about the maximum data transfer rate of a USB2 port. The correct answer for a PC repair bod would be "I don't give a toss, so long as whatever is connected to it shows up in Device Manager". This option was unaccountably missing from the multiple-choice questionnaire.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Okay this article wasn't bad"

      Agreed, but unless they've changed the education system in Britain completely (not *that* unlikely, I admit), most of it is already covered in various "life skills" classes you get before people start leaving school at 16. A reminder is useful, but I think that for an "expert", the author misses out some pretty crucial advice for candidates: an interview is not merely about impressing the potential employer; it's also about convincing yourself that you'd want to work with those people.

      I think the first commenter pretty much made that point. That the author didn't manage to point this out (or at least not with the appropriate emphasis) would suggest that he struggles to see things from the candidate's perspective.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Tell that to our Oracle team. You can smell them a mile off in the kitchen.

      1. keithpeter Silver badge
        Linux

        Do they like parrots?

        Remember, a parrot is not just for Christmas.

  9. mccp

    This author got a fair few flames last time, most of which were a bit unfair. I dislike paying recruiters fees as much as the next person, but unless you are unfortunate enough to have to wade through stacks of CVs, you are really qualified to complain.

    I interview and hire staff for my (small) company. Mainly developers, test and support staff. Most of the comments in the last article about CVs were correct - I don't read past the second spelling mistake in a CV. I don't care if English is not your second language, if you can't be arsed to spell check your CV and get someone else to read it before you send it to me, I'll bin it. In the last week I have seen four CVs which were Word documents that displayed red wiggly lines when I opened them. I'd probably have a bit more sympathy if I was hiring Nursery nurses, but come on - IT staff should have no fear of the humble word processor.

    As far as interviews go, I ask myself three questions at the end of the interview - would they do the job?, could they do the job?, and most importantly, would they fit in?

    The first one is easy, I just ask the candidate this question - "if we offer you the job at the salary you've asked for, would you accept it?". The only correct answer is an enthusiastic yes. Anything else means I won't offer you the job. I've had one no in twenty years, and about half of the remainder say something along the lines of "well, I am interviewing at other places so I may have to think about it". As if I cared. All I care about is that you are enthusiastic about my job. You can always change your mind later if I do offer it to you.

    The second is hard. I can see from your CV what your experience is, but you could be rubbish at those skills. We used to set a programming test - until we hired a guy who aced the test and who we had to fire six months later as he was actually a very poor programmer. This one is mostly guesswork.

    The third is gut feel. If I don't like you, I probably won't hire you. By like, I don't mean in a bosom buddy kind of way, just you need to come across as having the right kind of personality to fit in. Can do attitude, willingness to accept that you may not be right, ability to admit failures, these are all good. Not listening to the interviewer is bad, sometimes people answer a different question to the one you asked and we let them off as it's a pressured situation, but if it happens a lot, then it just seems like you don't understand or aren't listening.

    1. TeeCee Gold badge
      Unhappy

      Many Word documents show red wiggly lines when I open them.

      We're a multinational, standardised on American Engrish and the ruddy settings are locked down. Anything written by someone who actually knows basic English gets the thumbs down.

      1. Ommerson
        Stop

        A perfect reason to submit a CV as a PDF.

        There are other reasons: with the proliferation of applications that read Word documents - with varying levels of fidelity - there's a good chance of CV formatting getting screwed up. It never looks good. Even setting a different paper size from the reader's default (or their printer's) can cause problems.

        PDFs are much more robust.

        1. mccp

          Especially when a recruiter has mangled the CV to insert their header or to obfuscate the candidate name or place of work on speculative CVs.

      2. mccp

        I think that Word puts in red wiggly lines if the spelling doesn't match the document. I'm assuming that the wiggly lines that I see are the same as the ones that the candidate sees when s/he writes their CV, so they've no excuse for not correcting the error.

        Anyway, the errors I see are usually worse than that - I have one CV here where the guy's last place of work is spelled three different ways. That shows too little attention to detail and if you can't pay attention to detail on your CV, then you aren't advertising yourself very well.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "and most importantly, would they fit in?"

      And there's one of your problems. Sometimes deep technical problem-solving does not go hand-in-hand with communication skills. Some software testing companies, for example, specifically favour people with autism/Asperger's. And there have been articles associating high-ranking management with sociopathy.

      1. mccp

        Well I agree with that. We have some staff who are great communicators and some who aren't. The important thing is that everyone can work together and nobody is constantly pissed off or pissing someone else off.

        I think that in an interview this is the most important thing that I'm trying to find out, bearing in mind that I think that I'm crap at working out if someone is actually capable of doing what they say they can do.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > The first one is easy, I just ask the candidate this question - "if we offer you the job at the salary you've asked for, would you accept it?". The only correct answer is an enthusiastic yes

      Answering yes to this question doesn't demonstrate enthusiasm, it demonstrates the ability to construct a facade of enthusiasm. You can't seriously believe that everyone wants to work in your organisation as soon as they walk through the door, so why have them pretend? Loaded questions like this just result in loaded tactical answers from which you can glean nothing.

      1. mccp

        @ AC 15:58

        The point is that the ones that don't say yes disqualify themselves by not being enthusiastic. The remainder either constructed a facade or were truly enthusiastic so the ratio of truly enthusiastic to not enthusiastic just got better in my favour.

    4. mjwalshe
      Thumb Down

      realy

      >"if we offer you the job at the salary you've asked for"

      Rule one is never be the first to mention what salary you looking for - I have fired agencies (from representing me) over this.

      1. mccp

        @mjwalshe

        It doesn't matter who mentions salary first - the employer needs to know how much you want to be paid so it's going to be discussed. And presumably you didn't turn up for an interview without having some idea of the salary on offer?

        What always amazes me is the candidates (usually young admittedly) who have no idea how much the recruiter is getting.

    5. Windrose
      WTF?

      Word? Sic.

      "In the last week I have seen four CVs which were Word documents that displayed red wiggly lines when I opened them."

      You DID set your copy of Word to spelcheck in the same language as the author of the document, yes? Yes? No? Perhaps not?

      If you trust to MS Word to check a document, I certainly do not trust you to pay my salary on time.

      1. Chris007
        Trollface

        @Windrose Trolling? Not sure

        if yes then fair play

        if not it's a pity you didn't "spell check" your response...

        1. Windrose
          FAIL

          Egg. You know where.

          You DID notice WHICH word I didn't "spell check", did you? No?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cognitive Dissonance.

    "You need to sprinkle the words 'team' and 'enjoy' into your conversation. The more you think this advice is stupid, the more you need to do it."

    Arrrgggghhhh!

    And anyway, I don't! There I said it. They're all bastards. My stapler!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Heh

      They couldn't have made that movie any more real if they used hidden cameras.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Oh god yes my stapler!

      And my bloody biro! It's a ratty damn black Bic, why the hell do you need to steal it? The stationery store is open to all, you can take what you like, why steal my pen?

      You know you hate teamwork when you use sellotape to construct an under desk holster for your pens, highlighters and rulers so that no other bastard can see them or nick them.

      Bastards, stealing my pens. And the less said about my pencil sharpener the better.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Stating the bleedin' obvious.

    And that's not meant as an insult. I was recently giving advice to a young 'un going for a Saturday job at WH Smiths.

    The people you are interviewing are giving up their time, show some courtesy in return. Research the firm as they have researched yours. Be on time. Be polite. If you don't know the answer to a question - admit it !

    He got the job against a lot of competition.

    One thing you don't mention though, I see interviews as a two way process. I am making sure the company is suitable for me as much as vice versa.

    In that respect: be yourself. Act naturally. I would far rather that people decided they didn't like me at an interview than spend three months maintaining a false persona or working at a company I didn't fit in with while I looked for an exit.

  12. IsJustabloke
    Thumb Up

    Well at least you've improved your tone.... The only way I'd deal with you, based upon your CV rant, is if you had a plumb role that I was seriously interested in having.

    I actually agree with most of the stuff you've written here (and in the CV one, it wasn't your advice I objected to, it was your tone) but I think there's one thing that very many recruiters / HR people forget; When they are interviewing me for a role, I am also interviewing them. Its a two way street.

    1. Powerpointmonkey

      It's a three way street

      I'm a contractor who tends to end up in tech lead roles, and as such I usually end up interviewing the new hires. I've interviewed hundreds of candidates over the years, and I always go into an interview with the aim of answering three questions:

      1) Can they do the job

      2) Do they want the job

      3) Will they fit in

      The article focused on ensuring that a candidate has the best chance of getting question 1 right, but even if a candidate is technically capable of doing the job they may not want it - It could be because as an interviewer I have not done my part in selling the role or the company, or it could be because the agent / pimp has mis-sold the role to the candidate.

      Even when I have a candidate who looks technically capable and who is showing signs that they want the role, I am still conscious of the team dynamics and have on occasion turned down candidates who pass questions 1 and 2, purely because I felt they would not fit in with the existing team.

      1. Spoonsinger
        Meh

        Re:- It's a three way street.

        Actually for a proper "contract" gig, (not a bum on seat job), it's, (from the contractors point of view) :-

        1) Yep I can do that, (here's some evidence).

        2) Nope haven't done that but with a bit of research and my past experience I don't see it as a problem.

        3) Nope can't do that but I know someone who does, (obviously not agent friendly unless they are reasonable - which invariably they are not - and not forgetting that you have actually got to the interview by bridging that particular barrier).

        4) Absolutely no idea what you are on about. Why am I here? This isn't what was outlined by the agent.

    2. Aaron Em

      "a plumb role"

      That you, Bob?

  13. Symon Silver badge
    Stop

    Interviews are useless.

    "The predictor that has consistently done best in personal selection is cognitive ability, as determined by a series of verbal and spatial tests. The tests have been shown to be the best-known predictor of [candidates] future progress

    "It is curious that, despite the many published papers showing that in personnel selection the interview is useless, firms continue to employ it. Its use is one of the more curious acts of irrationality in the Western world and the fact that interviewers continue to have faith in their own erroneous judgements is just one more example of over-confidence."

    Irrationality by Stuart Sutherland. Chapter 20 "The failure of intuition".

    1. Flubjub

      I firmly believe this book should be required reading for everyone who wants to play at being a human.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        not entirely useless

        I know someone who had a job created specifically for them... It was a group he'd worked with before and they knew him. It was stuff he did day in day out...

        He turned up to the interview on the day after a big night out drinking. He went to the interview without changing, hungover if not still drunk!

        The job went to someone else with no experience but much better interview skills.

        Anon - as I was the one who got the job :)

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @Symon

            Forgot to add that, 6 months in, I was the one he was calling for help when he got stuck. So the interview did recognise the better candidate.

            But this whole thing just reinforces my view of IT recruitment, and what's wrong with it. For most IT jobs, unless you want someone to land on their feet running, you can easily look at people without a lot of direct experience of what you want them to do. Related experience that shows you have the aptitude to do it is a perfectly fine substitute, it might take you a bit longer to get 100% up to speed, but there's no reason you can't then surpass the one's who start ahead of you!

  14. squilookle

    I will attempt to apply everything here to the interview I have this afternoon.

    Thanks.

    1. Ben Best
      Thumb Up

      Best of luck...

    2. Mr Young
      Thumb Up

      Good luck and remember,

      try not to spill coffee down your shirt for breakfast!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Mr Young

        I suggest you read the following note:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:BEANS

        And remember kids, don't stuff beans up your nose!

      2. keithpeter Silver badge
        Trollface

        Yoghurt

        Don't have a yoghurt for afters at lunch if you have facial hair.

        I actually got the job... but then had to live the wind-up down for months afterwards...

        Just my contribution: I have only had three interviews in a 25 year working life so what do I know?

  15. Wommit
    Boffin

    Not quite as insulting this time.

    But he forgot a number of points.

    1) Dress for an INTERVIEW! Your favourite geek tee-shirt won't do. And yes, I've had an interviewee turn up in tee-shirt and jeans. Cleavage DOES NOT WORK! If it does you really, really don't want to work there. I have blackballed a candidate simply because of inappropriate dress.

    2) Posture. This is important. Look as though you are interested in the interviewers and what they are saying. Even if it is a bunch of crap.

    3) Say Hello, say Goodbye. Manners maketh the man. They also help make the employed.

    4) Most technical managers doing the interview are probably as nervous as you are. If they feel that you are at ease, that will probably help them too. This brings major brownie points.

    1. Imsimil Berati-Lahn
      Coat

      Showing Cleavage...

      Certainly a major negative point if you're a chap.

      Been on both sides of the desk and you're absolutely right, interviewing is probably more nerve-wracking than being interviewed. Reason being if I screw up conducting an interview, I have to endure the consequences for much longer or even potentially lose a job that I like. From the other side it's more a case of... "Nope? Rightoh. Next!"

      (Coat: Well, I was that confident of rejection, I didn't bother taking it off).

    2. Ommerson

      Legal hazard

      I'm fairly sure that today's litigious world, there are some candidates who would find a trip to the pub to be discriminatory. You might need to be careful who you invited.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Nobody said

        they'd have to drink alcohol. Neither party ought to end up pissed.

        1. LaeMing

          Showing Cleavage

          Is essentially saying to the interviewer 'you are a shallow chauvanist who will be swayed by a bit of boobie on show'. I'm pretty sure most men would find such a presumption about them offensive! (I am also pretty sure most men aren't that shallow, despite what the mass media likes to portray).

          Also pretty sure if a company had management that WAS swayed by a bit of boob on show, I would not be comfortable working in such a place anyway.

          1. SirTainleyBarking
            WTF?

            All for a bit of cleavage

            I was interviewed by a lady who thought a corset like ensemble was the height of office chic.

            But frankly if its early in the morning and I've travelled a long way to get there, I can do without that staring at me. It said volumes about the company, and I think my enthusiasm showed through in spades after that. I'll echo the many comments above that say that an interview is a two way process. I've walked away from jobs where I think the company come across as arses.

            Life is really too short

  16. Arrrggghh-otron

    Constructive...

    Well that was a bit more constructive than your last piece...

    But recruiters and HR people who don't appreciate the inherent flexibility and cross over that IT skills infer still don't help recruit the best people.

    I've had recruiters ask me if I had FTP as a skill. Really? FTP is a skill? I can use an FTP client without thinking about it, but I've never considered it a skill before, it's just another utility. I can setup an FTP server on various OSes without too much trouble, but I've always just considered it part and parcel of the job.

    Also just because I might be selling my time, doesn't mean I make a good sales man, otherwise I would be interviewing for a sales role...

    The pub test is interesting. We actually used that as part of an interview process at once, talking the 3 favourites to the pub (at different times I might add) for an informal chat. The candidates relaxed and we were able to chat freely about tech and that gave us a real feel for their aptitude and attitude.

    1. LaeMing
      Meh

      Yes,

      a bit like asking a tertiary graduate if they have 'pencil' as a skill.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nothing new here then

    As title. If people don't know these basics or want to argue with them like in your previous article then I'm all for that, just means I get the job :)

  18. Kubla Cant Silver badge

    Sound advice

    So sound, unexceptionable advice like this and the previous article result in flaming. I'd be sad about that, were it not for the fact that I might be competing for jobs with the people who think it's unreasonable.

    Just one mystery. The author "worked for >25 years as a programmer" and is now a head-hunter? Doesn't head-hunting involve interacting with people?

  19. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Flame

    And for interviewers

    stop with the silly stupid and irrelevant questions

    If I've just been grilled by senior management on my leadership and team playing abilities, and grilled by the technical guy on implementing a solution to getting a fanuc robot to sing and dance, the last thing I want is the token plonker from HR asking How do I fry an egg.

    1. Hollerith 1

      Sometimes the weird questions are the best

      I've had stupid questions thrown at me, too, sometimes because they were plonkers, and sometimes to see if I was fast on my mental feet. The trick was to take it seriously, if asked seriously, to give an intelligent answer, and to give it a little spin to flatter them a little for having the brains or flair to ask such a question. Tricky, but as I am paid to use my brain, it provided an early demo that I do indeed have one.

    2. LaeMing
      Happy

      How do I fry an egg?

      First, I power up a NetBurst architecture CPU...

      1. Captain Underpants
        Trollface

        @LaeMing

        Nonono.

        First, *obtain an egg*. *Then* make clever techie jokes.

  20. Richard 81

    Good stuff.

    Far better than your last article.

  21. Cosmo
    Thumb Up

    A much better article than last week

    And having done some interviews recently, I can agree with some of the things you raised.

    It's amazing how many people turn up late, smelly and unprepared.

    Have some enthusiasm, research the company that you're applying to and don't come over as a smart ass.

    The most annoying person I find when interviewing is the "hero" who saved his last company from death, because everyone around him was a moron and an idiot.... apart from him of course. Normally it's the other way round.

  22. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Lotus Notes to have worked for a whole month

    /me scratches head

    Patience is all that is required with Lotus Notes, then it works fine, if not Ctrl + Break

    Now I will hide under the desk as I fear a witch hunt of thumbs down because I prefer Lotus Notes to Outlook

    1. Flubjub

      I'm with you. Outlook's a joke. Lotus Notes is the business. Just because it's implemented badly by an enormous number of people, doesn't mean it's shit. It just means the idiots managing it are shit. Maybe they should have been a little more rigorous in their selection processes for personnel?

    2. Risky
      Mushroom

      Stay under that desk

      Lotus Notes may have hidden qualities but it sure as hell doesn't have a user interface designed with any care for the actual user. For ease of use it is way below Outlook Express let alone a proper client.

      1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Scratches Head Again

        Lotus Notes 7 and below User?

        I agree the old interface should have been updated sooner but 8 and above is much nicer and cleaner, the webmail client in 8.5 works like the client now. System admins can be pointed to waresource which actually has some brilliant documentation.

        I am alone though in my department though (they are sick of me and anything Lotus Notes related), and Notes was dumped for Outlook and outsourced.

  23. The BigYin

    Can I summarise?

    "I follow basic personal hygiene and can read a watch. I will happily work with others, but don't always need my hand-held. I understand the limits of my knowledge and not adverse to reading a book or asking for help to get things done."

    Hey presto, perfect candidate.

    1. Hollerith 1

      And yet...

      So few people make the grade.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    True stuff

    I once turned up 4 hours late for an interview. With a hangover. And a black eye (it had been a seriously heavy night).

    Throwing all caution to the wind I still turned up, not remotely expecting to get the job. But just trying to retrieve a tiny bit of dignity.

    I got an offer 30% more than I was asking for. My first six figure salary, simply by enthusing massively over the company's product.

    Punchline: The firm in question was ph**m.

    (this one is going to get negtastic)

    1. Flubjub

      I would have thought that someone who was a bruiser, displayed poor judgement and a balls-out devil-may-care attitude to what's acceptable, with a side order of extreme-bullshitting capabilities, would have been the ideal candidate for those shysters no?

      If you'd said you killed and ate puppies for fun they'd probably have given you 50% more than you asked for.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I fear you are correct. However, those aren't my natural traits (have you never acted out of character?) and I was glad to leave after 6 weeks.

        Still, I'd rather have a good yarn in the locker than moralising piety.

        Mmmm ... puppies.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Maybe everyone they interviewed, on finding out a bit more, had a sudden attack of integrity.

  25. TimS
    Thumb Up

    Much better written article

    I've just sat through interviews (and managed to get myself a new job along the way), and sticking to this kind of advice got me through. The technical questions myself and a number of people I know sailed through - it was the examples, honesty (about my limits) and being able to chat to the managers got me the second interview, and eventually the job.

    And what surprised me most? I got this through a recruiter who took time to talk me through the role, gave me hints, a lot of prep (sheets of potential questions to try) and useful feedback after the first interview. And even agreed to go back and negotiate more money than I'd originally asked for when applying when they offered the role. Unsurprisingly, I'll happily use him again if I need to look for a new role.

  26. min

    uh oh...

    ..he's gonna get attacked again.

    i hope Hollow's read this one too! loved the comments on the last article.

  27. James O'Shea
    Mushroom

    Release the hounds!

    This one should generate even more shouting than the last one.

  28. John G Imrie

    Honesty

    I went to one interview and thought I'd failed miserably on the Tech test. It wasn't until after I'd been in the Job for a few weeks that I was told one of the reasons I'd got the job and not one of the other candidates, was answering 'I haven't a clue I'd have to look that up' to one of the questions instead of waffling.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon

      Sir

      I know exactly what you mean. I had to take a tech test to get my current contract and they were testing all sorts of background from networking to coding.

      Some of my answers were tagged with a little note saying 'this is a complete guess btw'.

      I got the contract, apparently I also scored the highest - must've been lucky guesses!

      1. Sooty

        Same here

        I got told after an interview that one of my skills was that I was prepared to admit when I didn't know something, and ask someone. Apparently it's quite rare.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ... and the job is worse again ...

    Looking forward to the next article - "you've got the job and it's a load of sh1te", because lets be honest, how many times have you gone through the mill of the interview processes, got the job, started and realised the place is a total disaster, or got the job on the basis of prerequist x and y, to find you're doing z and your career is nicely sliding off the rails...

  30. Yag
    Flame

    yay!

    Flame war part 2?

    Hope not, this article is quite less aggravating than the first one...

  31. SuperNintendoChalmers
    Unhappy

    Disappointing

    Not nearly enough flame bait in there, I was really looking forward to today's ire filled comments section.

  32. Lee Dowling Silver badge

    The author seems to have come down a peg or two since the previous article and now has some decent, if basic, advice. I'm still not sure I believe it all (Really? You want me to swot up on interview puzzles that might crop up? Are you hiring someone to work for Puzzler World or do you want someone who can actually do the JOB you're asking of them? Just because MS/Google have "weird" interview techniques that people think are cool, doesn't mean they apply in the same way to Joe Bloggs hiring a code-monkey - my favourite answer in an interview was "I have no idea, but if you give me an web browser, your technical documentation and twenty minutes, I'll find out that information for you, like I would if problems I was uncertain of cropped up during my job") but it's a mite more useful, even if completely contrived (Don't turn up late? Gosh, never considered that).

    To the Author: An elitest attitude just makes everyone hate you - the people you're trying to help, the people doing the same job as you, and the people who employ you. This second article is much more within the realms of "This is advice from someone who deals with this a bit more than you do" rather than "OBEY ME, MINIONS, FOR I AM INFALLIBLE!"

  33. Graham Dawson Silver badge

    I don't generally remember the last book I read vecause I'm already on to the next one. Surely thats a more desireable trait in a go-getting trend-setting hip and desireable candidate for the meat mill?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Graham Dawson

      My thought as well, maybe the question should be, what books are you currently reading?

      1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

        Works for me.

        And the answer is "Flashman on the March". Unrepentent lech rogering his way up and down Abyssinia in the name of the Queen's peace.

        Oh dear, did I not get the job?

  34. Hugh Tonks
    Thumb Up

    Remember that ...

    First-rate managers hire first-rate people.

    Second-rate managers hire third-rate people.

  35. Sir Runcible Spoon

    Sir

    Excellent flame bait. They'll be along in a minute to put the fire out I'm sure.

    Is there no room in the interview world that encompasses the fact the people can get nervous?

    When I'm working, I can walk straight into a viper pit of board level directors who are baying for my company's blood and come out of it with a recommendation for further work; but put me in an interview and I get nervous, hot and sweaty - I simply can't seem to help it no matter how confident I am.

    Maybe if the hiring staff weren't so perfect I wouldn't feel quite so intimidated perhaps?

  36. Yet Another Commentard

    Some things missing

    (apologies if double posted, had a few password related issues)

    Don’t forget YOU are also interviewing the employer. We seem to be stuck in this cap-doffing “I am so grateful that you would wish to see me sir” mode that people forget the employer needs them. Sure, you may need the job more than they need you (as there are ten other you equivalents sitting outside) but you must be certain that what you are about to be employed doing, and with whom, is for you. There are also ten more jobs for you that might be better…

    If you can, get a sensible friend to mock interview you. Ideally one who is a recruiter, not even in your field is fine. Get a friend (women, for want of a gross generalisation, tend to be more astute at this than men) to look at how you dress, how you sit, how you stand, how you appear in front of people you don’t know. If a suit is needed and you never normally wear one, then practice wearing it. You’ll look daft pulling at your collar because you have not worn a tie since school, and feeling comfortable is pretty important. Once your CV is on the “interview” pile you still have to make the first impression, and an ill-fitting suit, bad posture, weak voice etc. all add up to the first impression. It can be hard to shake. A good interviewer will make you more relaxed, but be prepared for bad interviewers.

    Prepare answers for questions such as “what are you most proud of” and “tell me about the last time you disagreed with a superior”.

    Practice a good handshake – not wet, but not knuckle breakingly firm. If you have sweaty palms, try and work out how to make them a little less damp (wipe on trousers/skirt, leave hand open not clenched etc). If you are a bloke and a woman is interviewing you – don’t stare at her chest. Look at her. Oh, practice looking at someone’s eyes too, not Hannibal Lector scary stare-out, but we have a distrust of people who never look at you.

    You will be forgiven for nerves, but being a gibbering wreck is no good.

    Oh, and turn your bloody phone off too. As an interviewer I want you in the room, not answering a call from a mate, or updating your twitter crap. Speaking of which, did the last article mention making your Facebook page either completely hidden, or aligned to your CV interests? We check out Facebook from the CV name. Lots of dumb stuff on Facebook, and the CV is in the bin. We will not look past that which is open for the public, so we don’t do fake friend requests, but I am sure others will. Sometimes we leave it for the interview and ask if we should employ someone who… and display drunken FB picture of them vomiting on a cat, or mooning the queen, or whatever. The answers to that question can be very revealing. “So, are you proud of that?”

    “No”

    “Why did you put it on the internet then?”

    “er”

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon

      Sir

      I once got asked if I had a linkin/fb account from one interviewer for a security role once. I answered that I prefer to keep my personal life out of the public domain, and certainly don't want to give out personal career information to just anyone.

      He was surprised at first, but then decided it was a good idea and was going to eliminate a lot of the info on his own pages.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Sir

        If they had to ask then I would suspect either you didn't have one in which case it might be a valid question or if you did then they hadn't searched indicating they didn't consider you amongst the primary candidates or they had searched and were testing your honesty. So the correct response should always be, haven't you looked?

  37. Neil Charles

    Tips for recruitment consultants

    Please can we have a follow up article of tips for recruitment consultants? This piece is better than "Why your tech CV sucks" but it's only fair to give hiring managers and interviewees the right to reply.

    If nobody else wants to do it, I'll write it. Actually, after one too many calls from recruiters a couple of years ago, I already did.

    http://wallpapering-fog.blogspot.com/2009/10/this-needs-to-be-said.html

  38. Mos Eisley Spaceport
    WTF?

    What?

    Is this flame-a-geek-week?

  39. Titus Technophobe
    Thumb Up

    May I be the first .....

    To congratulate Dominic on a thoroughly thought provoking article.

  40. bigphil9009

    It's the tone (directed at the author, not any commentators)

    I am perhaps being played here, but what I really don't like is the tone of this article (and the preceding one). Some of your points are valid, but is it really necessary to be so antagonistic? Yes, we get it, there are some frustrating things you have to deal with in your line of work, but we all have frustrating things to deal with in our lines of work. You are reducing the power of your arguments by using the kind of tone employed in this and your previous article.

    1. Jimbo 6

      Agreed

      I think it was the abrasive tone, rather than the content, that made the previous article so badly received - maybe Mr Connor needs to brush up on his diplomacy skills. I mean, in my line of work (application support) I frequently want to say to customers

      WERE YOU BORN A F***ING MORON OR WERE YOU JUST REPEATEDLY DROPPED ON THE HEAD AS A SMALL CHILD ? EITHER WAY, READ THE F***ING MANUAL AND STOP WASTING MY F***ING TIME !!!!!!!

      - but I find I get less negative feedback when I tone it down a bit.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's the tone (directed at the author, not any commentators)

      Look at the top of the page. Yes, the bit that says, "The Register". What does it say? Yes, it says, "The Register"!

      More from Dom. Less from needy whiners.

    3. Ru

      But everyone loves irony!

      Its great isn't it? He's telling his target audience that their means of communication is as important as what they have to say, whilst simultaneously calling them stupid assholes. Smooth.

  41. Ru

    A step up from last time

    Its nice to read an article where I'm not being told I'm socially malajusted and borderline retarded and that's why I don't deserve a job. Perhaps you could do a version 1.1 of your CV writing guide in a similar vein?

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    theregister...

    or thetrollster.co.uk?

    1. Graham Dawson Silver badge
      Trollface

      problem?

  43. MrCheese
    Thumb Up

    Good article

    Having very recently secured a new job, good interview technique is fresh in my mind, I especially agree with the comments about being honest about your limitations if you don't have all the answers.

    In my interview I was given a few technical scenarios to troubleshoot and if possible, resolve. I though I'd performed poorly as I struggled with basic details on the first (see the pushing out trivia comment) and then struggled with a simple lack of knowledge on another (which I admitted to).

    I used this apparent catastrophe to emphasise that I was seeking a role in which I could develop the skills I currently lacked, something I did must've worked as they made me an offer a few days later.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dear Mrs.Connor

    Dominic has worked really hard this term

    which has resulted in various improvements

    to his grammar, prose, delivery and sensitivity

    towards the first years. Although this has not

    quite qualified him for an "A" I do now find that

    reading his work no longer gives me a stabbing

    pain behind one eye. He is also a bit less of a cnut.

    B.

  45. Ned Fowden

    its the written word people

    Geez, trolls go away, this article is written with the intention of helping.

    Whatever 'tone' you take from it is yours and yours alone

    Personally I read it as intended, took no offence or was left feeling antagonised (really bigphil9009 ??) or patronised.

    I'm on to a 2nd stage interview myself in the next week, I'll remember some of the points made here (most I already adhere to some anyway).

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One of the side-effects of the current economic climate....

    ....means that at least in an ideal world, interviewers should really be looking at the "Why does your employment history end six months ago?" with less of a jaded eye. At the moment, it's not uncommon, if a job finishes for whatever reason, to have a few months (and in some cases a year and up) of downtime, simply because the jobs aren't available. Unfortunately, most employers seem to regard not having a job as a personal failing, rather than lean times.

    Also, don't get me started on the possible reaction to admitting to a period of long term illness. Technically, they shouldn''t discriminate, but we all know that when the applicant to post ratio can be in the hundreds to one, they can always find some excuse not to employ the guy who's been ill before, and therefore, in their mind, may be ill again and let them down.

    Anonymous to protect future employability.

    1. Yet Another Commentard

      "end of last job"

      I have never binned a CV that had "redundancy" on it as a reason for a job ending. There are few of us in employment who have not had it happen to them, or one of their friends, or colleagues. It holds no shame - stuff happens. Wrong time, wrong place and all that.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      My favourite has always been when you tell them you suffer from a long term mental illness after they ask what you've been doing during those curious breaks in your employment history and you can always immediately tell from the change in their demeanour and look in their eyes that you are certainly not going to be offered the post.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Sounds harsh but...

        ...don't tell them that in the interview? You are under no obligation to and the reality is it will put them off. People shouldn't have prejudices, but they do. Just say 'illness', they don't need (or want) any more info than that.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          You are effectively obliged to if they ask, because you might want to use it as an excuse/basis of a discrimination claim later.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Kinda difficult to just shrug and go eh..

          You are obliged to because it can obviously affect you and your ability to work, if things end up going completely pear shaped (again) and you didn't tell them about it at the interview stage then you can expect a shitty reference/no reference once you get to applying for another job. Plus for those rare employers who aren't judgmental and prejudiced it means that they can put a framework in place and take it into account if they give you the job.

  47. PassiveSmoking

    Much better job than the CV article, which was just plain insulting on far too many levels.

    Most of the advice still falls under the category of "bloody obvious" though.

    Also, you missed one. If they ask you a question on a topic to which you don't know the answer, replay in a clear tone "Honestly? I don't know". If you're honest you'll make a better impression than if you try to bullshit an answer on the spot.

    1. Yet Another Commentard

      As does "I was detained at HM Prison Slade". Even though, in theory, the interviewee has served their debt to society.

      Mental illness has an unreasonable stigma attached to it. Many brilliant minds have suffered from one form or another (and who I to judge who or what is "normal" in any event?) It is difficult to ask "really, tell me about that..." for fear of being far too intrusive. My medical history is between my and my doctor.

      The problem is, no matter how hard we try to suppress them, deep down we have many prejudices that bubble up and act on our subconsciousness. Which is, as a fellow above notes, why interviews are so shockingly bad at selecting the correct candidate.

  48. Jon Press

    How come you invite such unsuitable candidates to interview?

    I've been on both sides of the interview table and quite frankly "playing the game" is in my experience the principal reason that the wrong pepole get hired. Both parties should be reasonably confident before the interview is even scheduled that they are a resonable match: the interview can only be a final sanity check. If you're discarding people as unemployable at the interview stage your process is missing some steps.

    Don't forget the best candidate may not be desperate for your job. Unless they're unemployed, in danger of being unemployed or pathetically anxious to get out of a present job or get more money then the main purpose of the interview (for the candidate) is to find out whether they'd enjoy the job on offer and there's a reasonable chance that the job won't immediately disappear or morph into some brain-rotting droid role. Turning up in jeans and a t-shirt (if that's your habitual wok attire) and dealing with the interviewer(s) in the same way you would if they become your colleagues rather than as a helpless supplicant is a perfectly reasonable strategy to ensure the potential employer wasn't lying about the promised working environment and will deal with you honestly later on, If the recruiters aren't prepared to compromise on their arbitrary criteria to get the best candidate, they're not doing their job properly.

    Mind you, recruiters could save everyone a great deal of time by specifying those arbitrary criteria up front. If they include "you will wear a suit", "we will ask you about your reading habits or other aspects of your personal life which are none of our business", "we will ask a nonsense question we read in a self-help book" or "we will ask you for a sample of your handwriting" then we know in advance where to avoid. Because, even today, an expletive in the face often offends.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Because, even today, an expletive in the face often offends."

      Spot on!

      Some advice for interviewers would be useful, although I don't think Dominic is up to it, somehow. Not asking vague questions like "What is integration?" to someone who routinely integrates systems, for example, and generally wasting people's time. After a while you can tell when your own time is being wasted by recruiters and by employers who are only *considering* hiring someone and can persuade a few people to take some time out (perhaps near the end of the working day) to talk to people almost at random.

      Dominic and pals may feel like the buck stops with the candidate being all sincere about a position, but the best interviews involve convincing the candidate that they are really needed and that they can really see themselves working there. It's completely possible to be offered a job because the interviewers have no real clue and end up thinking that they might as well hire you. Then, you have the awkward choice of blowing the thing away without anything else in the pipeline or starting in a job where your colleagues quite possibly are as clueless in other aspects of their work.

  49. TeeCee Gold badge
    Happy

    "...turning up late is just so bad."

    Hmm. I recall turning up for an interview with two people.

    One was stuck in traffic due to a smash on the A3, the other was still sat in the fog on the tarmac at Brussels airport, so it was I who got to cool his heels in reception for some considerable time.

    To their credit, the company concerned was apologetic and gave me the job.

  50. KirstarK

    This article is spot on.

    I agree totally. I didn't will all the points in his previous article, but what can you do.

    An interview is all about selling you to the company looking to employ you.

    You want to show how lucky they will be to if you accept the position. You do not want them to think that they will be taking a chance on you, instead they should be thinking of you as a sure thing.

    I recall going for a tech support job an an online company. I impressed the interviers so much they called their boss in for the 2nd interview on the spot and they offered me more money than they advertised just so i would take the job.

    I recall interviewing this guy for a network install and support tech. Part of his CV mentioned that he had setup his own network and installed the cables in the walls. When I asked himwhat IP range he was using and if he knew his gateway IP he looked at me like I was crazy..

  51. Jacqui

    You missed one critical thing

    Take an unredacted copy of your original/current CV along to the interview and hand it over before it starts - make sure you have enough to hand around if there is a panel.

    It took me a good few "bad" interviews before I was told this (by a ex-techie recruiter) and it has never let me down yet.

    Remember - the recruiter is trying to sell anyone for the job. Unlike you, he does not have time to write a CV tailored for the specific role you are applying for and his "stock" CV will reflect his idea of what is important not what you or your prospective employer think are important for that role. Even if he were technically skilled when he "joined the dark side" those skills will be invalid after only a few years and your CV and his "version" may differ radically.

    The CV is the very first step in the interview process. It is often the basis for the interview and the discrepancies between the (sometimes faked) CV an agency fashions and what you originally wrote can wreck your chances at that perfect job in interview.

    When I left Cray I spent a few weeks doing interviews with sometimes two or three interviews a day. At the time there were more jobs than people so agencies had no need to push staff but I ended up at interviews where the job was obviously not a fit. Taking your CV along ensure you do not get the blame for any such mismatches *before* you end up wasting the interviewer time.

    Finally, the advice about the business research is important but if you appear to know more about the business or technology than those interviewing you, make your excuses and *leave*! The last interview I did this at was a certain maidenhead based speech to text company. I liked the company, its dieas etc but we all know what happened to them :-)

  52. M Gale

    The degree I'm studying is a course with a sandwich year out on placement. Right now we're all scurrying around making CVs, preparing presentations for mock interviews, and applying for the future placements that we'll be doing next year. Methinks the Personal and Professional Development tutor would like this article. I'm off to give her the URL, ta!

    (my point from the last article's comments section about a strict 2 page CV limit still stands though. That ain't gonna happen unless I miss bits of my employment history.)

    1. M Gale

      Turns out that she's a Reg reader too.

      Apparently this and the "your CV sucks" articles are both very good articles in her opinion. She was going to give the URL to the entire year, but it was decided that the comments about not liking them darn forriners, while a fair comment, was not something the university could condone.

      However, if a student were to email other students, that's not the uni's problem.

      Dominic, take note. There's a rather large group of students here who would find your opinions useful, if you could make them a bit more PC (I know, yuck).

    2. Yet Another Commentard

      Two Page CV

      I would disagree on the two page thing. TLDR would happen. How many jobs have you had to fill over two pages? Fifty? There's about 60 lines on two pages. I don't need an essay on every job. I get CVs from people who are nearing 60, with many past roles, they can CVs on to two pages quite effectively. They just compress some and tell me what I need to know.

      You need to work out what is relevant to the job you are applying for, not doing a generic CV. Usually I care about the most recent things, so last two roles need the detail. If the job you are after is very similar to the third then write more there and trim others. If you are contracting - condense it a bit for older stuff. Say "contracting from X until Y" and some notes on the overall things you did (SQL, storage, whatever). Likewise, I don't really care about details of working as a paper delivery executive or other summer job. I care you got up and did it, not really what you were doing. One line. That's all you need.

      In short - some can sit as one line, just employer, role, dates. I can ask if I want to know.

      I have no interest in a list of your A levels or GCSEs. Tell me how many, and how many A grades. Even the ubiquitous 34 GCSEs 19 at Grade A, including English and Mathematics is fine. Don't do half a page list.

      Note - this is just my preference, I tend to hire grads, and experienced non IT professionals

      1. Shocked Jock
        Boffin

        @ Yet Another Commentard

        This seems to me to be the right (i.e. most informative) approach to presenting information on a CV. However, many organisations are determined to apply their own Procrustean bed to job applicants - the application form. So if you're a professional graduate you're faced with all those lovely big spaces for the school certificates you (may have) won decades ago at the chalk face, but there is no space to describe why the skills involved in bringing up your family, for example, are a sound basis for fulfilling the needs of the prospective employer.

        To many recruiters, whether hired in or in-house, want to use open-ended, flexible - even farcical - criteria in interviews but written formats that are better described as "anal" than just restrictive.

        The article tells it like it is, but it would be good to see a third article on the ways in which recruiters can help to make the whole application and recruitment process work better.

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sigh...

    I've done three interviews in the last week, none of the interviewees bothered to even feign interest in the specialist area in which they will be working (storage/backup) let alone show enthusiasm. None of them had given any more than a cursory look at the company web site, one of them I worked with at a previous company was actually surprised to see me in the interview despite me managing the area the he will be working in and having my photo, name and a little blurb about me on the web site.

    These are people who are supposed to be specialist in their field and at the top of their game. Pah.

  54. Semaj

    Yeah mostly agree but

    "it’s a tough market that may be getting worse"

    Sorry but that's bollocks. I am still constantly hounded by recruiters for decent looking programming jobs (and some that are quite clearly crap of course) because I have a fair bit of experience and a good CV. If anything our market is getting even bigger because all the proles have realised that technology exists.

    If you have skills and your current job is tolerable, a perspective employer needs to sell itself to you and you can be as picky as you like.

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I love all these "better than last article" comments

    You'd almost suspect that the average geek thinks his CV is perfect but gets nervous in interviews...

    1. BoldMan

      Not in the slightest - its the tone of the article that is better. The advice in both is applicable, but the way its put across has been improved vastly in this one.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        striking the right tone

        The tone certainly has shifted since his CV article. Then again, if I had friends I would probably recognize the difference between open scorn and candy coated loathing dripping with sugary acid. However I hear I'll only get friends when I start bathing, so that's out of the question.

        That being said I think in Dom we have the makings of a new Jack Handee for vitriolic technocrats looking for jobs.

        TEAM!

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Upfront Honesty Sometimes Pays Off

    When redundancy struck, I decided to use my first interview as practice. I wasn't keen on the business the employer was in, and didn't see myself fitting in --- but I hadn't been to a proper interview for nearly twenty years and you have to start somewhere.

    I had certain core, required skills, without which I would not have been in the chair. Much of the ancillary desktop stuff, for instance, I either didn't know, or didn't like. No, I didn't ask them why they used that crap, but if I didn't like this, and I didn't know much about that, I said so: I did not waffle about Wordperfect, and I did was not loquacious about Lotus 1-2-3. Just straight.

    INTERVIEW PRACTICE PART TWO:

    Half-way through the /second-round/ interview, a few days later, something went 'Ding!' in my head, and I stopped practising, which included asking for more money, more this, more that and more the other, told myself that a redundant 40-year-old was not in a position to pick and choose, and if they found themselves staring at a job offer on their first application, there really was only one answer.

    I was there for eleven years.

    I think it counted, that I engaged with the interviewers as human beings (and went on to have a good working relationship with a couple of them), courteously (yes, that is important), and on-the-level. They wanted someone able to work with both people and machines: they did not want someone with an MBA in marketing, or the attitude that goes with it.

    Job hunters may want to be a little more circumspect, but please, be human, and remember that the people on the other side of the table are human too. It can pay off.

  57. Antidisestablishmentarianist

    My wife's friend used to be high up in HR at HP and agreed to have a proof read of my CV after dusting it off for the first time in 10 years. Boy what an eye opener. Now I have a CV that will get past the HR filters and still be techy enough to be relevant to the actual interviewers.

    Cost me a bloody expensive dinner to get the advice but it was worth it. Now happily employed (not at HP!)

    Don't forget to use your social networks! (or prerrably your wife's if you will have nothing to do with fb or li like me)

  58. Mike Flugennock

    whacked interview questions

    I wish I'd bookmarked the link to an article in one of the business rags about some of the weird-assed, borderline Dadaesque questions asked in job interviews at several big, brand-name companies -- really whacked, off-the-wall stuff, problems with no solutions, really irrelevant, screwball questions. As I recall, Google and GoldmanSachs were the leaders in this kind of interview batshittery. I remember thinking that if those were the kind of bozo questions GoldmanSachs asks its job applicants, it's no wonder our economy's in the toilet.

    Perhaps that's why many applicants seem nervous or disinterested; they might be scared to death that the interviewer is going to ask them something like "if an airplane crashed on the border of the US and Canada, where would the survivors be buried?"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: whacked interview questions

      My response to any question I consider irrelevant is to decline to answer it. This has never had a negative result as whenever I've got as far as an interview I've always been offered the job.

    2. Windrose
      Joke

      Interesting.

      "if an airplane crashed on the border of the US and Canada, where would the survivors be buried?"

      Could be interesting to see the replies, tho.

      "On the border? Please define 'on' and 'border'? Aha. *drags out pen, paper, and HP calculator* I need a list of the passengers, their passports, spousal arrangements, a desk, a cat, and some fish fingers in custard. Oh, a copy of the relevant case law on burying people alive ... "

      I'd hire that one.

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Language, language...

    "Their principle weapon is inconsistency. "

    After all the fuss about language in the previous post, is this really acceptable from a self-professed advisor?

  60. Mike Flugennock
    Mushroom

    "Team Player!" ...slowly I turned...

    I'm not actually in IT myself -- I've been a graphic designer since the late '70s and began using computers to do it in '85, which explains why I read the Reg -- but a lot of this applies no matter what your profession.

    Regardless of what Mr. Connor tells us, every manager I've ever worked with has used "team player" as a euphemism for Someone Who Doesn't Mind A Total Lack Of Personal Recognition For His Talent, or "All Your Best Ideas Are Belong To Us". While I fully recognize the importance of collective effort on a project -- I've been a member of quite a few really sharp, talented design groups -- the reality, unfortunately, is that most managers use the "team player" rubric to sugar-coat a lack of personal recognition and the appropriation of ideas without giving credit... not to mention that nothing bugs me more than hearing some paunchy, pasty-faced manager using sports metaphors.

    At this point in my career, I've seen the phrase "team player" beat to death in so many ads, and heard it thrown around in so many interviews that I sometimes want to hunt down, torture and kill the management consultant who first stole the phrase "team player" from some football coach he heard being interviewed on TV.

    1. Peter Murphy
      Devil

      "Team Player" - an euphemism for so many things.

      If if means "work well with others" - of course.

      It it means "covering for your boss's mistakes" - perhaps.

      If it means "gang up on the weak" or "cover up for malfeasance" or "ostracize the whistleblowers" - fuck off.

    2. Daren Nestor

      "Team Player"

      This phrase has been bastardized to death and should never be used.

      In my last interview I was asked both about working with teams locally and globally, which is a much more reasonable player. Mind you, here we have occasional "who can use the most egregious management bullshit" for the laugh. Some of those phrases are AWFUL

      1. Mike Flugennock

        who can use the most egregious management bullshit

        What really burns my toast -- and gets a cheap laff -- is that not only is it egregious bullshit, but it's almost all sports-related expressions: "team player" (American-rules football), "in the clutch" (baseball), "crunch time" (basketball) -- and they're almost always used by managers who look as if they've never been in any kind of any organized sports a single day of their lives. They watch a lot of it on TV, and dig all the interviews with the coaches, save the stuff that sounds catchy and parrot it back to people at meetings.

        So, now I'm curious... do pointy-haired Brit managers load up their speech with soccer and cricket expressions? "Own goal" and "late before wicket" spring to mind...

  61. Bruno Girin
    Thumb Up

    "You must draw a line under a failure and honestly admitting your limits is actually good for your case since it shows honesty."

    Absolutely right! I've done a few tech interviews where we decided who to hire based on how the candidates reacted to questions they didn't know the answer to. We always had some try to wing it and come up with obvious rubbish answers; and some admit immediately they didn't know the answer and ask questions in order to work it out. Guess who we hired.

  62. Scott 62

    i guy i used to work with did all our interviewing, and he said to me once that "he liked to throw in a few curve balls" when interviewing

    to this day i've never got the mentality of it, if you ask the right questions in the first place you shouldn't find yourself trying to trick people or asking them what sort of tree they want to be.

    bloody management speak.

    1. Mike Flugennock

      curve balls? eurghh.

      "i guy i used to work with did all our interviewing, and he said to me once that 'he liked to throw in a few curve balls' when interviewing"

      Eurggh. Curve balls, huh? Sounds like the kind of guy who put a lot of batters on base when his curve balls went wild and beaned them.

  63. raving angry loony

    Cut out HR completely for the win.

    If you're being interviewed by someone in H.R. and not the leader of the team you're planning on working for, then you've fucked up sunshine.

    "HR", or worse, a "recruiting firm", knows nothing about tech, knows nothing about what skills are actually required, and are working off a checklist of things they thought they understood when told what was required - but they're wrong.

    Stop applying for jobs through HR or recruiting firms, and start making the contacts necessary to go directly to the interview with the manager you'll be working for. Then they'll just instruct HR to process the paperwork, rather than relying on a bunch of technological illiterates to choose which technically competent person would work best in a group where HR can't even spell what they do, let along understand it.

  64. nitsedy
    Headmaster

    How about - be a good employee.

    What matters in an interview with me is: basic technical skill for the position, strong interpersonal skills, personal integrity, a clear understanding of how business works, and a good work ethic. Anything more than that is just icing on the cake. Sadly, very few people can pass those tests. And, yes, I can figure out if you have integrity during an interview. It isn't hard. And even if I miss it in the interview I'll find out in the 90 day probationary period.

    As for the stupid "gotcha" questions interviewers try to use (like asking what the USB 2.0 transfer rate is) the best response is, "If I really need to know it then I'll Google it." When I'm interviewing prospective employees I'm looking for real skills and usable knowledge not arrogated trivia. The days when it was helpful to have a geek around with encyclopedic knowledge of digital trivia are long gone. Now I need a competent individual who can work successfully in a business environment.

  65. This post has been deleted by its author

  66. Neoc
    Thumb Up

    Spot on

    I have worked in IT since 1990, and have been on both sides of the Interview process since. We didn't use a company to screen our applicants beforehand, so we got the applications directly and had to "cull" the pile down to a handful to interview. And then interview them.

    And Dominic Connor (the author) has it spot on.

    The number of applications and CV/Resumes which were akin to essays written in crayon by 5-year-olds is astounding. The number of people who turn up for interviews with the attitude that they are doing you a favour by letting you interview them is also high. Here's a hint - I'm a tech too; I resent having to take time off my job to do this interview and am only doing it because we need an extra body or too to lighten the workload. Show me you can do the job and that you're not going to get on my nerves and you have a good chance of being hired. Hell, show me you *can't* do the job but have the ability to be taught, and I'll still consider you.

    But here's the thing: if you're in front of me in an interview, it means you need me (or rather, the job) more than we need you.

    Sounds unfair? Yep. But it's true. By interview time, we have culled hundreds of applicants down to (typically) twenty. For one position. So the odds are good there will be at least 2 or 3 people in that group we'll consider hiring.

    The old 121 rule exists for a reason (100 applications, 20 interviews, 1 job). On both sides of the desk.

    And if you can't understand that to play in someone's sandbox you need to do so by their rules, then they are unlikely to want you on board, no matter how good you think you are.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Spot on.

      >But here's the thing: if you're in front of me in an interview, it means you need me (or rather, the job) more than we need you

      Here's the thing. I don't. I might not be the ideal candidate on your list but of the those who are I'm probably the least likely to need to lick your boots to secure a position. Also those you've wittled down to interview stage will probbly have other possiblities on the go. Just think about that for a minute, if you've picked them out of a batch of potential candidates don't you think another company would also pick them out. To think otherwise would be extremely short-sighted and to think you are giving them their only hope of a job is total arrogance.

      Employees / companies should get the idea out of their heads that employees are lucky to have a job with them.

    2. Sean Baggaley 1
      WTF?

      @Neoc: statistics isn't one of your strengths, is it?

      Sturgeon's Law applies to *everything*. That includes job applicants. 90% of them will *always* be crud. It makes no difference which industry you are in.

      Those 80 applications you binned? Your business rivals will very likely have binned *exactly the same 80 applications*. (Only a company doomed to failure will be hiring people who write CVs in crayon on coloured paper.) That 80% is merely noise in the system and can be discounted from the pool of suitable job applicants.

      Both you and your rivals are therefore very likely looking at *the same* remaining 20 people. Of these, let's say another 10 will fail at the interview stage. (Poor presentation, late, no-show, congenital liars, whatever.) That leaves just 10% of those 100 applicants who might possibly pass muster.

      That remaining 10% of applicants will also be of interest to your rivals too, so they're unlikely to have a shortage of job offers. So, no, your company really *isn't* all that special.

    3. Chris 242

      You need me :)

      Arse.

      I'm here for a second interview because,

      If sucessful your business unit will profit from my input.

      And you will be a hero manager.

      HR/ Recruiters

      Get It into your disconnected lives.

      skilled staff, INTERVIEW the EMPLOYERS.

      Are you worthy of my talents!!

  67. Johan Bastiaansen
    Devil

    Please explain to me ...

    Why I would want to work for your shitty company?

    Or in an a later stage.

    Why I would continue to work for your shitty company?

    And you could elaborate:

    We both know it's not the royal paycheck.

    We both know it's not the extra's

    We both know it's not he appreciation shown by management.

  68. Johan Bastiaansen
    WTF?

    turning up late

    I remember turning up right on time for an interview and being led into a room where about a dozen of other people were waiting. After a while it became obvious that they were all applying for the same position and some of them had been waiting there for over several hours.

    When more candidates showed up at regular intervals, I decided to quit before I was even hired and left the building.

    Now I am worried that perhaps I failed some stress test???

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Suspects: Hidden cameras, microphones, one-way mirrors.

    2. Mike Flugennock

      The Applicant has left the building

      "When more candidates showed up at regular intervals, I decided to quit before I was even hired and left the building.

      Now I am worried that perhaps I failed some stress test???"

      Wow, y'know... this may sound really wacky, but -- as it seems corporate wackiness knows no bounds these days -- maybe that _was_ part of the "stress interview". Maybe they hired a bunch of community-theatre actors to dress up, come to the office and sit in the waiting room and pretend to be applicants waiting to be interviewed for the same position, while you sat there, being made to wait, and the HR people watched for your reaction.

      Yeah, sounds totally over the edge, I know, but let's not forget how much cash corporations have pissed away on those executive retreats where they walk on hot coals. Seriously, I would totally not put it past them these days.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The Applicant has left the building

        My son went for an interview a week ago and about an hour before it was due to take place they called him to say it had to be cancelled. He did wonder whether finding out his reaction was part of the interview process.

        As in the example above, what would be gained by such tactics. If the employer wants the sort of person who would walk out or not reschedule an interview after being messed about they will lose them. They would be left with the people they didn't want and have to reject them.

        In my sons case, it's for his first job when he finishes university next year so I told him to let them reschedule and consider the first one as an all expenses paid trip to London. If it happens again next week the I hope he's got enough sense to know what to do without asking for advice.

  69. Russ Tarbox
    Thumb Up

    I've not read the other comments yet...

    ...but this is so much more helpful than your last article. I'm really glad that you took the comments on board and made your latest piece a lot more helpful and less condescending.

    Kudos.

  70. Winkypop Silver badge
    Pint

    The best interviews are on the golf course

    By then, you know you have the job.

    True story.

    <-- 19th hole

  71. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I seem to have a good cv and interview very well, so well in fact that the latest role I went for came back and offered to take me (about 10 minutes after the interview) and provide an extra 5k ontop of what I was put forward for.

    2 years as a office admin in a recruitment office paid off ;c)

  72. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Things never to say at an interview

    You know. You know how some people have the tendency to end a sentence with "you know", well they don't, so don't say it. This gem was picked up from an old headmaster who gave the advice to a classmate with this trait before we went for our entrance test to the local grammar school. The advice he gave to me was not to mention that my father was a miner, talk about waving a red flag at a bull, this was my ticket out of grammar school, I grasped it with both hands and handed it over. This still may or may not be relevant in todays PC world. I'm damn sure I was later up before that headmaster in court. I suspect he'd found out what I'd done and having ruined his previously flawless entrance rate decided to exact revenge, but that's another story.

    Etcetera. If you´re reeling off a list of qualities or whatever, when you get to the end do not under any circumstances say etcetera. Any decent interviewer will ask you to expand and the chances are you'd got to the end of your list and you'll be up shit creek without a paddle.

    Anything. This applies during the pregnant pause. Let them sweat it out, they'll be more uncomfortable that the text book technique isn't working and will give in before you do.

    1. Mike Flugennock
      Coat

      re: things never to say at an interview

      Wow, great little nugget of advice, there.

      "Etcetera. If you´re reeling off a list of qualities or whatever, when you get to the end do not under any circumstances say etcetera. Any decent interviewer will ask you to expand and the chances are you'd got to the end of your list and you'll be up shit creek without a paddle."

      ...and, needless to say, you don't _ever_ want to say "up shit creek" at your interview.

      "Anything. This applies during the pregnant pause. Let them sweat it out, they'll be more uncomfortable that the text book technique isn't working and will give in before you do."

      ...but whatever you do, don't start humming the "Thinking Music" from "Jeopardy" while you're waiting for the interviewer to say something.

  73. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Meetings, rather than interviews – and why is the job available?

    Personally, I don’t see it as an interview but as a meeting – we’re meeting to see if I want to work there and if they want to me to. May sound silly, but a friend advised me to do this, saying that to most people, ‘interview’ has a negative connotation (police interview, anyone?), ‘meeting’ doesn’t. Although before this, I was generally successful at interviews, I found them stressful – now, I’m far more calm about doing them and find I’m asking better questions (both in terms of ‘impressing’ the interviewers and finding out about the role/company).

    At the organisation I work at, there’s major restructuring and quite a lot of people have to reapply for their job. Amongst other things, short training courses have been offered about interviews etc. I went on one and someone mentioned that they always asked at interview, whey the post was being advertised and I was gobsmacked when the trainer that it was “rather cheeky” to ask that.

    I generally ask why the post is vacant – it might be that it’s a new post, but if it isn’t, I like to know why the previous person is moving on. If the person has moved up within the company, as an example, with a bit of digging you can find out how much they value on developing staff.

    On the other hand, there can be negative reasons. At one interview, after pressing the interviewers a little, the HR bod admitted that the person had been doing the job previously was claiming unfair dismissal. When I followed this up with a few more questions, it came out that this wasn’t the first time that this had happened under the line manager and also, there had been a significant turnover of people in that post (I inferred that this had been going on since the line manager had been in the role).

  74. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "and friends if you have some"

    that's just nasty! :-)

  75. alwarming
    Holmes

    One simple trick that this article misses.

    1) If you are being hired as a dev, God Complex is important. Mak the bean counters realise that they are lucky to have him.

    2) If you spot a loser in the panel, and put him down (be subtle). Everyone else would see you as a winner. If you spotted the loser correctly, his vote wouldn't count anyway.

    3) If you are a dev, show as little inclination to learn about the corporate strategies, management etc. (don't ignore the customers though, show a passing interest).

    4) Don't stare down the blouse of a female interviewer. Unless you intend to get laid instead of hired. I know a guy who slept (about a month later) with the HR at a company he wasn't hired.. presumably for being flirtly during the HR round.

    5) Always be willing to write code during interview, even if they are not particularly interested at the moment.

  76. Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

    Dominic writes back

    Each of my pieces is designed to be one sided, partly because I'm unable to produce balanced articles but mostly because I want to send clear messages and most of the career advice I read is so vague as well as touchy feelly it makes me vomit.

    Of course I know that interviews are 2 way processes and that different people want different things. The nearest thing my firm has to a mission statement is :"We don't tell you what to want, just help you get it.".

    I know people hate recruiters, indeed the very first article I ever wrote about careers was "My life as a leech"

    Unless someone stops me, the series will include:

    How to spot crap jobs

    How not to interview people

    When it hits the fan (surviving losing your job)

    How to get a pay rise

    Why there are almost no women in IT

  77. Chris 242

    Interview Dress

    Pretentious Company. Hard working wage slaves in the background, totally suited (simpson ties etc)

    IMO.!!!!! I was overqualified (experience and scroll handouts) however, the jeans phucked all chances, donned with a ironed shirt and sport jacket. Myopic !

    Sad looking interviewers, reading from scripts.

    What a great escape driving home.

  78. Chris 242

    My point is

    Regardless of what all the HR manuals say, don't judge a book by its cover.

    Lets face it, there are many "unwashed" IT gurus who breathe live into your companies IT.

    Disregard the unwashed !!, listen to what they have to say, opinions, current state of technology, future developments. HOWEVER have a rep from acccounts present.

  79. Chris Hobbs

    And commenting on the interviewer's grammar?

    "Their principle weapon is inconsistency." for example.

    I have even known Principal Engineers who call themselves Principle Engineers.

    Chris

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Nobody expects the Spanish Interviewers

      Our chief weapons are inconsistency, off-the-wall questions, and a fanatical devotion to the Pope.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021