You are interview ready — how about the hiring manager?

By Scot Herrick | Job Search

Feb 24
The Interview

The Interview

Let’s have a quiet, viral kind of discussion about the interview’s biggest elephant in the room: often, the hiring manager’s interview skills just plain suck. Suck. As in, they don’t really know how to conduct an interview.

I’ve met this hiring manager. If you’ve done any number of interviews, you have too. They do all the talking during the interview session (I’ve been guilty of this as well), they are unprepared to provide consistent questions to each of the candidates in order to compare answers, and, worst of all, they don’t really understand the job skills and talents needed for the position. Because they don’t understand how their people do their jobs.

Yeah. That kind of hiring manager. The kind Jason Alba talks about here:

See, the problem I had with interviewing was that I went through an interviewing workshop.  After the workshop I had a chance to try out the tactics they explained… and found that I was grossly overtrained for the interview.  The interviewers were not prepared, or trained, and didn’t know what they were doing.

Here you are, taking all of that Cubicle Warrior advice and are spot-on-ready for the interview. Then you run into the unprepared, way-off focus hiring manager trying to figure out what to ask you about the job while scared to death to try and describe the job.

It is almost a reversal of roles: you need to guide the interview by getting the hiring manager to focus the right way. Meaning: your way. How do you do that?

Ask closed ended questions

Open questions are like, “How did you do that?” Closed questions are more closely aligned to, “Is that correct?”

You almost have to take the job description (You brought the job description with you to the interview, right? Right?), take the first several skills in it, describe how you fit those skills and then ask the closed question: “Based on the job description, would you say that my skills match it closely enough to do the work?” If it does, great. If it doesn’t, now you can be the interviewer and ask where your skills miss and where they match.

Interview the manager about the work

Sometimes, the manager just is a poor interviewer but is a great manager. Ask questions about the work, the department, the current concerns and the current employees to get a sense of what the work is really about. You can mix in how you would fit into those situations based on the answers and maybe even get the hiring manager get past the “interview” mode into a management mode.

You might find a great manager scared to death of doing interviews. It happens. But it is up to you to figure that out.

Evaluate the hiring manager as a manager

Let’s face it: if you are interviewing with a dunderhead who happens to be your future manager, you have to seriously consider that this person sucks not only at interviewing, but as a manager of people. Meaning, this person can seriously screw up your career.

That’s a big risk. Don’t just lay back and think this hiring manager is an idiot; you need to figure out if this idiot is merely not very good at interviewing or if this idiot is really poor at managing. Then deciding if you would really want to work with this person as a manager of…you.

Job interviews go both ways, you know. Incompetent interviews from a hiring manager is a big flag that all is not well on the “working for the manager” front.

What was your “incompetent interviewer” moment?

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About the Author

Scot Herrick is the author of “I’ve Landed My Dream Job–Now What???” and owner of Cube Rules, LLC. Scot has a long history of management and individual contribution in multiple Fortune 100 corporations.