Is a bad interview a waste of time?
As I’ve said before, interviewing is hard work and a time-consuming process. Some days I conduct eight interviews in a single day for our vScreening clients! There are days when every interview turns into a potential new hire to recommend. Then, there are some days where none do. However, if you use every interview as an opportunity to learn, mentor, and give back, there is no bad interview. In fact, it is a very valuable use of your time.
Pass it on
During a recent interview for a junior remote role, I had the chance to interview a young man from Detroit. From the start of the interview, I recognized signs of nervousness: fidgeting, biting his nails, averting his eyes. Instinct told me he probably didn’t have a lot of interviewing experience. I did my best to put him at ease by asking the “easy” stuff: previous jobs or cool projects that he may have participated in, etc.
As the interview progressed, I began asking a few questions regarding his technical skills – all very high-level, nothing super technical. After each question, though, his responses were short and mainly “I have never done that” or “I don’t have any experience with that either”. Oftentimes, I’ll press forward, as there is no need to keep digging if the candidate doesn’t have the experience on, say, a particular software.
The interview is going south… now what?
Here is where things went sideways. Our candidate dropped his head to his chest and said, “Ma’am I am not the right person for your company. I’m sorry I’ve wasted your time”. Of course, I could have easily agreed and wish him good luck. Instead, this is where I thought, “Nope, I’m not doing that. I need to provide a positive experience for this young man and help him be ready for the next interview.” If nothing else, let’s turn this ship around to benefit him, to learn, and improve for his next interview.
And so that’s just what we did. Acknowledging that he was not the right fit for the job, I offered to continue. “Pick your head up and look me in the eye,” I requested. That day, this young man showed courage in his concession and fortitude from his willingness to continue and grow. He may not remember me, but I will always remember him and his impact on me.
Bad interview → positive lesson
Today, I had a very similar experience of turning a bad interview into a positive lesson. Within minutes of interviewing another young gentleman, I realized that despite his resume looking good, he lacked the skills necessary. I stopped him and gently explained that he was missing some key requirements for the role. He hastily explained that he’s trying to leave a job he has been in for a few years. However, his limited desktop experience was not enough so he struggled to get his foot in the door elsewhere.
To give up or give back
Here the opportunity was knocking. Just like everyone else, some days it can be so easy to not hear it or try to ignore the knocking. Luckily I remembered the impact of helping the young man from Detroit. I knew we could turn another so-called “bad interview” around. What did we do next? We worked on his resume and I connected him with some Reddit groups to network for IT jobs. Together we discussed how MSP work would be a great place to gain the experience he desired. I also shared with him how to proactively reach out to MSPs in his area.
I’m pleased to report that he left the interview with a smile on his face. He thanked me for helping him find other ways to advance his career. And my takeaway? Always take the time and be willing to recognize hidden opportunities to make a positive impact on people every day. We are never too busy for that. 😉
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