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Hi all:

I'm looking for advice and/or a sanity check.  I got laid off from my job and have been hitting the job hunt hard.  Actually it was a relief to get laid off as the company was/is an Enron waiting to happen but I digress.  At any rate, my last several interviews have all gone so badly I'm starting to wonder if the problem is me?!

The last half dozen interviews I have been on were all panel interviews.  The frustrating part is that more than half of these panel's participants are not getting my resume from their boss prior to the interview!  Heck, half of them are getting pulled out of their cube or paged to come to the conference room only at the scheduled time of the interview.  Usually, I only get the name of the person in charge of the interview beforehand... I generally have no idea heading into the interview how long it will last and how many people will participate.  What is really frustrating is the awkward 10 - 15 minutes of silence I then have to sit in front of these people as they read my resume for the first time.

What almost really set me off is this past Friday, was not only the panel not prepared for the interview, but one of them was placing calls on his cell phone from the time I sat down to the time I left.  I couldn't believe it.  I'm still mortified.  I cannot believe someone would be so rude to talk on their cell phone when they are supposed to be talking to a candidate!

By way of comparison, whenever I have done hiring, I always send the candidate's resume to everyone in on the interview at least a couple of days beforehand.  Personally, I've always had a handful of questions I ask everyone and then I tailor a handful of questions to the current candidate’s resume... in an attempt to get an idea of how they think, to confirm their experience, and see how much BS (if any) is on their resume.

But since I've been on the other side of the conference table recently EVERYONE is largely unprepared, the level of professionalism is horrible, and because the employer's staff is blindsided, they're forced to make up questions ad-hoc which never really turn out to be nothing more than trivia of attributes pertaining to the open position.

It would be different if it was only one or two companies acting like this.  But they all are.  It's kinda hard to give "home-run" answers to questions, as opposed to "touchdown" answers when the questions are made up on the fly in the first place.  Any suggestions?  Or are my standards, based upon how I used to interview, just too high and I should learn to accept such chaos?  What about the cell phone?  What is the proper way for a candidate to handle themselves when one of the interviewers is on his cell the whole time?

Thanks in advance!

--Chris

 

tlhausmann's picture
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Ask yourself, "Would you want to work there?", when encountering such behavior.

Smile and stay professional in these situations. The MT podcasts contain quotes  "How you feel is your fault." So concentrate, stay focused, and resolve to continue doing it better when you get to your next post. Your professionalism will show through.

Consider listening to the podcast on how to handle group interviews:

http://www.manager-tools.com/2007/12/how-to-handle-a-group-interview

I recommend the Interview Series.

I work in an industry where group interviews are not only common it frequently is the norm. Again, resolve to do it better at your next position.

pace's picture

We conduct panel interviews here too.  I make sure all of the participants in the interview are equipped with a copy of the candidate's resume.  Many of the interviewees will come armed with several copies of their own resume just in case.  It does give the impression that the candidate was prepared. Maybe that's an idea for your next interview to assure that the panel gets the correct impression of your accomplishments?

jhack's picture

Giving "behavioral" answers to questions, even questions like "What did you do at company X" or "what are your skills" can be very powerful.  You can create an image in their mind of you doing the job, and that can put you ahead of the pack.

And consider two things: a company that's hiring is probably doing some things right, and they may be well aware that they need better management.  That's not necessarily a bad place to land. 

John Hack

ken_wills's picture

Chris - this comes from my own recent experience of looking for work after being laid off.  I think I'm agreeing with Tom's comments above, but to be much more blunt about it...

I get it.

They suck.

You have high standards. You know better, and you'd never be as bad as them.

Now that you've gotten that off your chest, keep getting interviews so you'll get a job offer.  And the longer you look, the more of these little indignities you'll have to face.  I was interviewed by somebody who hardly spoke English. We did a lot of nodding and smiling.  Waste of my time?  Sure.  But it comes with the territory.

Don't compromise your standards when it comes to choosing the quality of the company.  But don't expend energy regarding the quality of the company's hiring process. 

The objective is to get to the next level (the one-on-one interview), until you get the offer.

Good Luck!

-KW

MGoBlue93's picture

 Thanks everyone for your responses.  Pace, yes, I don't go anywhere without extra copies of my resume, salary history, and references.  Ken, the problem is I was frustrated with everyone sucking.  Then, upon further review, I began to wonder could everyone suck or was the common denominator just me?  At any rate, I'll just keep charging forward and use Tom's advice.  At least I'm getting my foot in the door in presently a very challenging environment.