When Bad Interviews
Happen to Good Candidates
through the motions of a bad interview is like peeling back the layers
of an onion. Hemant learned this lesson the hard way, hands-on during
an interview that should have been a piece of cake. Hemant applied
for a position that fit his qualifications perfectly. When he received
an invitation to interview, Hemant believed he was a shoo-in for the
job. Feeling confident, he approached the interview in a lax manner.
He didn’t prepare and prematurely celebrated an offer he was
convinced would be extended.
The day of the interview, Hemant was surprised by the level of anxiety
he felt. His apprehension began to build and he began to prepare for
the interview at the last minute. By the time he arrived at the interview,
he was visibly shaken.
Lesson learned: The time to collect your thoughts is prior to an interview,
not on your way to one. If you arrive to an interview bewildered,
the recruiter will take notice and you run a high risk that you will
be not get the offer.
The interviewer entered the waiting area and introduced himself. To
ease the tension, he asked a common icebreaker question, “Did
you have trouble finding us?” Hemant has never been a smooth
small talker and he answered the question candidly. He confided that
he doesn’t have a good sense of direction and coupled with the
fact that he was anxious, he passed the building entrance quite a
few times. The interviewer smiled politely and proceeded to walk towards
the interview room. Realizing he goofed, Hemant hesitantly followed
learned: Everything you say and do during an interview is scrutinized;
from the instant you walk in, to the moment you walk out. An innocent
question doesn’t exist during an interview and a careless misstep
is seldom forgotten. Choose your responses carefully.
When Hemant was escorted to the interview room, he was surprised to
see a panel of interviewers. He was only familiar with the “it’s
just you and me, kid” type of the interview – the one-on-one.
At the start of the interview, he quickly realized that it was going
to be a challenge to manage that interview.
Lesson learned: Interviews are unpredictable. One never knows the
broad range of topics that will be covered and the type of formats
that may be presented. Familiarize yourself with all interview settings.
Because he was not ready for the series of questions, Hemant tripped
over his answers. He focused on issues that weren’t relevant
and provided little information on what was pertinent. He began to
ramble and appeared under-qualified for the position.
Sensing that he was interviewing poorly, Hemant began to lose patience
with the process. He failed to maintain eye contact and began to fidget.
The enthusiasm he felt for the position and the company slowly diminished
as he witnessed the blank looks on the faces of the panellists. He
withdrew mentally from the interview, and as a result, appeared disinterested.
Lesson learned: Most interviewers expect candidates to be nervous
during an interview, and they rarely will forgive you if you fail
to demonstrate a sincere interest in working for them. Most hiring
decisions are based on whether the interviewer feels a connection
to you. The failure to establish a bond immediately is usually beyond
After the interview Hemant realized that the questions he had been
asked were not difficult. He had been overwhelmed by nervousness and
that had clouded her ability to communicate clearly and to the point
Lesson learned: Even if you have the “right stuff,” nothing
is guaranteed. Don’t get caught off guard; prepare for interviews;
do your homework.