The Interview Panel: how not to get a job (Candidate No. 2).

Needless to say, the Interview is only one part of the Recruitment Process. There are several other aspects to The Process, both pre- and post-Interview, which require as much meticulous preparation as The Interview itself if a candidate is to convert their hopes into assurances and banish their fears to the deeper recesses of their subconscious, never to emerge again apart from perhaps years later over a small unrelated incident: a broken biscuit, a dog howling in the middle of the night, an empty fast food wrapper tumble-weeding down the street: these are all incidents we have learnt of where previous job candidates broke down in public for no apparent reason. What bound them all was an earlier rejection at the hands of the firm’s Interview Panel: some times many years prior to the irreversible public breakdown.

So, prospective Candidate, in the words of the great business guru Graham Gooch, fail to prepare and prepare to fail.

The second candidate of the day demonstrates this fundamental error perfectly. In the training video we prepared as a result of his abortive attempt to get gainful employment with the firm (click here), you will see all the signs of an inappropriately prepared candidate. Note how he looks around the room when he enters it as if confused about his location. He should be looking straight ahead with his eyes either averted slightly downwards as if penance; or slightly above the Interview Panel’s heads, as if waiting for further instructions. He should not be scoping the room as if he is planning to enact some future subterfuge at the expense of the firm. Nor should he – as you will see he eventually does – look straight into the eyes of the Interview Panel in an attempt to gain eye contact and establish some kind of bon homie with people he has never met before and at this rate is unlikely to meet ever again.

Note too how he makes notes as members of the Interview Panel ask him questions. This is strictly verboten as earlier and greater Interview Panels were wont to advise their heir apparents. The only people who make notes are the Interview Panel and you would be well advised to take heed of this advice before stepping into the cauldron of the Interview Room.

The final miscalculation by the second candidate is actually a series of connected errors which can be traced to his posture. Note how he leans forward and backward; how he crosses and uncrosses his legs; how he turns his head from left to right as if watching a long base line rally at Wimbledon. These are the signs of a personality which are deeply flawed and are no doubt the signs of a damaged childhood, irretrievable family breakdown or other psychological trauma. Whatever the cause (and truth be told, the Interview Panel does not care much for excuses), it is clear after the fifteenth leg folding and unfolding that this candidate is completely unsuitable for the post he has bravely, some might say stupidly, put himself forward for.

It is at this point that the Interview Panel is able to look at itself, smile that secret smile we have perfected over the years, and lean forward simultaneously to press the Ejector Seat button which results in the candidate being ejected vigorously through the ceiling and out into the greater, wilder unknown of the Firm’s car park. There is no greater pleasure the Interview Panel has than to press the Ejector Seat button on an unwitting candidate.

Of course, as we are all civilised adults throughout The Process, the Candidate is utterly oblivious to having been ejected through the ceiling. We all continue to smile our smiley happy faces to each other throughout each and every single minute of his allotted time and are able to bid him farewell, keeping him seemingly safe in his perception that he has done the best interview possible, said everything he wanted to say, asked everything he wanted to ask and that he can leave the room with his fragile hopes still intact. Of course, we know different but he is not to know that.


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