The Best Interview I’ve Had This Time Around I Had To Tell Them I Was The Wrong Person For The Job

Right after I was laid off, I had an interview for a contract job at a small medical supply  company near where I was working.  Unlike so many interviews I’ve been through, this one went very well.  The company was obviously a great environment to work at and they liked me.  They liked me!!! GREAT!!!.  After hearing the requirements specifically what they needed I had to turn the job down.  I have never done this before.  But I could not betray them.  Quite frankly I was unqualified for what they needed.  I know that I could do the work, but the time constraints were too tight.  I didn’t have time for the learning curve that would be required and the interview ended in mutual agreement of that fact and we all acted correctly as adults.  That’s the way an interview is supposed to work.

Liz Ryan posted this today and if made me think about that interview.

Most of  the literature you see about job seeking is filled with elaborate appeasement strategies that supposedly will get the companies to like you and hand over the job.  Appeasement may be what they want, but is it what the company needs. Look a company is hiring people because they need work done.  They probably need specific work done.  Chances are 100% that they will not find the specific person to be that special purple squirrel that will do their special task for next to nothing.    In pursuit of this they keep asking the same stupid questions because that’s how they think that the interview process should work.

You, as the candidate, need to turn that around as fast as possible, to get them talking.  Just as Liz points out.  Realistically the interview is about them, not you.  Your hierarchy  of needs is pretty simple.  You need to get paid.  Theirs is more complicated.  They need particular work done.  It’s in your best interest to find out what, as Liz calls it their business pain is and address that.  An interview is a sales job and you need to know the market before you sell in it.  If you know what you are doing you should have done some easy stuff to figure out what the needs of the job are in a roundabout way. You should have looked at the company’s website and looked to see if they have a facebook page(they may not depending on the industry.)  In this day and age of the internet you can find out an amazing amount of information about the company with very little effort. Use that to our advantage.

Spinning the table makes the interview about them.  It gives them the opportunity to sell to you, which makes things easier on you and them,  Your sale is so much easier if they are convinced that they are selling to you.  The best  interviews I’ve had are the ones where the process went off the rails and the stupid questions disappeared.  The closer the interview got to developing a relationship the better it went for everybody.

I think one problem is that everybody has gotten too much caught up in the process.  Everybody wants things to work out for their own reasons, so we all consult books and references to tell us how to get through the process.  The thing is that that stuff is all BS.  90% of it is written by people who haven’t had to do a lot of interviews, at least from the applicant side.  The stuff is written by HR types and headhunters who don’t really have clue about job hunting because they’ve never had to do very much of it.  The rest is written by some CEO who’s clueless because of the same reason. It’s all written from the point of view of what the employer thinks they want. Most of it’s irrelevant to the actual part of doing a job.

Unfortunately it’s the poor candidate who’s left holding the bag for the failings of the system.  We are expected to jump through hoops and perform as dancing bears with no guarantee of reward.  We don’t know until we walk through the door what games the interview is going to entail. It could be a nice talk around the table with a constructive conversation about the problem at hand.  Or the interview could be the sadistic stuff created by clowns like this.  For some reason that sort of stuff never seems to end very well.:

Frankly, I’m not concerned about my steak during an interview and there needs to be a defined space for performance.  Anyway I’m not interviewing as  performer in some sadistic melodrama, I’m looking for work.  So cut the BS, tell me what you need and what the constraints are and I will tell you if I can do the work.  Then the interview will be over  and you can buy me a dinner with no melodrama.



  1. davidhuntpe · March 24, 2015

    Reblogged this on David Hunt, PE… Mechanical Engineer on the loose! and commented:
    If only people were, in general, willing to communicate this directly and with such candor.


  2. jccarlton · March 24, 2015

    David, the whole system has been systematically trying to break down communication for more than the last twenty years or my whole career. Maybe it’s because of my rotten decisions and being in the system so much, but there is something really rotten when I can’t just apply for a job that the company is advertising for and I am fully qualified for and get no reply, at all. The fact that I, as a job seeker have to play games and spend my time networking to get the right person to send a pitch deck to for a need the company knows they have is ridiculous. Then there’s this stupid interview crap, always asking the same stupid irrelevant questions and the same attempt to put the applicant under a magnifying glass and hold them to standards that can’t be met. I’m just tired with it all.


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