Sunday, August 11, 2013

Interview: Dear Interviewer, Would you Answer Your Own Questions Honestly?

Dear Interviewer, Would you Answer Your Own Questions Honestly?

If you are new to interviewing, these are good starting points (or see link below).

What I have thought interesting since I started interviewing is how "textbook" some of the answers are to the interview questions. All questions are structured to get some sort of information about the interviewee, but do interviewers ever think about what the interviewee thinks about the company on certain questions?

One of the questions, "Tell me about the worst boss you ever had," the interviewer is "trying" to see if you are going to talk smack about your older bosses. Almost everyone will recommend that you try to redirect the question to something positive, but why not say bad things about a bad boss (unless you've only had 1-2 bosses then I would also recommend you avoid answering this directly)?

Is the new boss expecting to be bad? If he is not bad, then why would he worry about what I say about bad bosses? Who has not had a bad boss? I mean this is like asking, "have you ever lied?" We all know the real answer, and we know that is not the answer the questioner wants to hear. Basically, you want us to lie. Is that how you want to start someone's career at your company?

If going the route of "yes, I do lie," I would also suggest that you add what you did about it. Like when my boss hired someone that was weak, I wrote a report trying to avoid any personal bias. I told her that this is my opinion and that I respect her choice because there are usually other factors that they have to consider that I am not privy to. Another example was a poor process. I recommended a better process with analytic on how it is a better business strategy. I want to show that I will go to my boss with my experience and my knowledge. I do not jump levels and report to his boss about my thoughts on him. If you cannot back up your actions, then maybe you should stick with the suggest response from CareerBuilder.

What if your boss was doing something illegal? I have not actually thought about this... and I am not sure exactly what I should do on that matter. I'd probably read the employee handbook and probably should be handled by HR. Anyways, this is probably a bit too personal to answer publicly because if you happen to be my boss... it is probably better that you don't know what I would choose. To all the not-worst bosses, what would you suggest?

Another question is "Where do you see yourself in five years?" Does anyone really know where they see themselves in five years that are relevant to work? Does the interviewer even know where they see themselves in five years with their current work? How can they expect that from someone who doesn't even know who is going to hire them?

I seem to dislike questions that really only have one correct answer. These types of questions only seem to serve one purpose and it is not to understand the interviewee. If you or your HR is not going to put effort into finding the right candidates, I have lower views of your company. Does that mean I will not choose you? Unfortunately for me, I probably would consider the option since most companies ask the same types of questions.

But like interviewers who are looking for that one ideal candidate, I am seeking for that one ideal employer and I hope to do so by being more straightforward about my profession abilities. If there was one recommendations for employers about their interview questions, that would be that you would be able to answer the same questions you ask: "tell me who was your worst manager that you've had," "where do you see me in five years?" If you do not like answering those questions, then do not ask those questions. Like interviewees, avoid lying because you will not get what you really want. It is a lose-lose for both parties.

On a different matter, these staple responses from recruiters and head-hunters are things that have always made me uncomfortable with them. Shouldn't they be people who should be making the hiring process easier by being more honest about the truths? Why has the whole interview process been mutated into something that favors people who know how to interview and not their real talent? Does a company really care if someone knew how to answer a certain question that is really irrelevant to them? Who cares if the person cannot see where they are in 5 years? Who cares if they had a bad boss or had all bad bosses? They only care that the employee adds value to the company.

I am not saying that the knowledge is important. It is important to know if we have ambition or have social issues. But you are expecting someone to know those with just one or two questions?

Sometimes I wonder about the use of recruiters. Their business model revolves around getting people hired. People don't get hired if the company already has perfect people. They love churn because that gets them the bonuses that they work out in the contracts.

I think there is a lot of room for improvements for HR, recruiters, and head-hunters to really make more long term solutions to the interviewing process. I think recruiters have the most to gain especially with the current technology in social networking. They can now keep in touch with people for several years without being very intrusive.

Why recruiters? Because companies do really not care much about employees or potential employees' life outside of their company. They want to focus on their product. Also on the political level, there are some managers that hire people they know over people people who are capable. It only takes one poor manager to make systems extremely inefficient.

And, people want to focus on their skills so that they can add value where they are talented at. Why should the person know who they work best with, especially when the employer does not even give them a say in the matter? People struggle to get themselves hired and you want them to know someone else?

This leaves the recruiters to find the best matches because that's their role in the process. They care that you did good work for Company A, showed loyalty in Company B, and demonstrated hard work at Company C. They should care that you had that one bad boss but you overcame it. They should have a better idea what your 5 year goal is better than the interviewee (isn't it kind of messed up that they call the company the client and not the other way or even both?) With their experience, they should know where you can be in 5 years and they should know what the company would expect in 5 years. They should know historically who you have worked best with. Not only that, that knowledge should be exactly the same except that you explain it in the perspective for that person. Too bad they only care about the person being at the right place and at the right time... if not, they move onto someone else.

Anyways, there's probably an infinite and one reasons to why the system is not that way. Unfortunately, I cannot help but think on these processes on a part-time basis as I would really wish to focus on processes on building new engineering technologies. I have been distracted by other industries because getting good coworkers is the biggest problem in process improvements. So here's my weakness... I am easily distracted by things that I consider the biggest problems on things that are preventing me from working on new engineering technologies.


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