Dear Claudia,

If this didn’t happen to me I would never have believed it. Last week I went on an interview at a Fortune 500 company which really needs to remain nameless. I met with some young bimbo recruiter who was all broken up about the death of Michael Jackson, and spent our entire interview talking about it! Can you fathom this??? The company and the economy are being smacked around and all this person wanted to discuss were my thoughts on this person’s death? Not even a question about the economy or something job related. When did it become fashionable in recruiting to discuss people whose character is questionable? Is this the new what-shape-should-a-manhole-cover-be or if-you-were-a-dog-what-kind-would-you-be question for candidates?

I’m sure the look on my face told her what a moron I thought she was because she cut the interview short – I guess she "sensed" that I didn't feel the same way she did about his death. Is this state of the art in recruiting? What would you have done?

Not a Fan


Dear Not a Fan,

Well that must have been a surreal experience…I debriefed a candidate once who said he spent the entire interview exchanging MLB player stats with the Hiring Manager (a contest of who knew the most useless information, as it had nothing whatsoever to do with the job at hand). He aced the interview and got the job (apparently none of the other candidates knew baseball from Batman) – so what’s the moral of the story? Chemistry plays a bigger role in the interview than we like to admit (oh no, are we talking about bias again? I thought we killed that subject last week…).

It is yet another fascinating aspect of human nature that celebrities take up so much collective mindshare; because of this it’s no surprise that the untimely death of a cultural icon can take on larger-than-life proportions for many. If you’re curious, there’s some really interesting research discussed here that examines the personality types that are drawn toward more intense celebrity worship, and their more negative shared attributes (ranging from depression and anxiety to poorer general health, higher stress levels, and lower life satisfaction). Things that make you say, “Hmmmm….”

All of this is background information for processing your own interview last week. It’s possible that this recruiter is a whack-job whose employment may cause you to think twice about wanting to work for this company. But it’s also possible that you stepped into her life during a moment of intense personal reaction to the death of someone she admired, and if she’d had some time to process her feelings offline she might have behaved more professionally in the interview. Who knows? In retrospect she may be really embarrassed, but think of it this way too: just as you got a front row seat to her reaction, she also got a front row seat to yours – and your obvious contempt for her emotional distress probably didn’t help your cause for employment. She may be wondering if you’ll treat everyone with a different perspective as if they are morons too.

If I had been in your shoes, I would have attempted to reschedule the interview. If you’re still interested in the job, you might consider reaching out to the recruiter again to see if a do-over is possible; if not, chalk it up to a learning experience and move on.


**

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Dear Not a Fan -

When I began my career in HR I was an HR Administrator for a prestigious Fortune 100 company. One of my first interviews was with a young man who interviewed for a manufacturing position. He'd brought his large, portable, stereo with him to the interview and when the interview turned towards his interests he went on at some length about his stereo. He did not get the job.

A number of years later, I was interviewing for a Director of HR position with a growing company in central Pennsylvania. The interview started at 7:30 in the morning and prompted me to depart my home in New Jersey at zero dark hundred in the morning to reach it on time. My first interview was with the VP of Operations who, thankfully, provided me with a cup of hot coffee. Unfortunately he also provided me with chair in which to sit that was designed by the Marquis de Sade. After the interview, I learned that I didn't get the job because I slouched.

The point of these anecdotes are that this is a very subjective process. Claudia's recommendations as to path forward are excellent. I would only add . . . Don't take it personally! It's the nature of the process (such as it is).

One last thing . . . I had a crusty old Trigonometry teacher at an all male school who referred to young women as "bimbos". He was a curmudgeon and it was part of his "charm". On a candidate, it's never charming and I would encourage you to change your mindset regarding young, female interviewers.

Keep at it. - Tom
I remember that I had a candidate onsite on 9/11. It was almost impossible for anyone to focus on interviewing that day. That was a blow to the entire US and not some singer (as well as someone of questionable character, IMO) dying. I remember the candidate was as shocked and heartbroken as we all were and handled it with grace and class. She got the job, even though we didn't spend every moment talking about her, we saw that she could handle herself well and she was a great hire.

12 people have committed suicide claiming they couldn't live without Michael Jackson. Let's keep our eye on the ball people. There are much more important things left to do with or without someone who you admire.

Rant done. :)
Is this even a relevant conversation? These types of circumstances rarely, if ever happen on a regular basis. And the operative word he used was "young" and then added "bimbo". Right from the start of his disertation I was immediately put off because it was truly unnecessary to use the word "bimbo", but continued reading because it was short.

I'm not finding much value in this particular segment.

Sorry.
I agree with Peter. You lost me at " young bimbo recruiter"... I've been doing recruiting for almost 15 years but luckily, still have a "young looking" appearance. I am sure this person would have characterized me this way, I can only imagine how he conducted himself with that recruiter in the interview.
Stephanie and Peter-

12 succeeded, how many are having a breakdown? What is sad and funny is that the news outlets have been able to push the economy off the front page. Thankfully the Financial Times has gone back to business!

This reaction comes from the same do-do generation that has downloaded more MJ songs in the past 24 hours than in the past 11 years.

What I believe an underlying point here is that relatively new recruiters - ok, older recruiters too - will come to the interview their own idea as to how to assess people's abilities. I suppose these folks recruit because they love people. So stop pushing the "blame"' on the candidate - recruiting is a two way street with equal culpability on both sides.

Not everyone can be a superstar; some people - candidates and recruiters - really are potential future winners of Darwin Awards.
Dahl Face, I'm tawkin' en general t-herms frum havin bin on bot sides ah da fence...

Dysfunctionality is everywhere and if all people did was turn their backs on everyone who behaved "differently" then little would ever be accomplished. But coming back to the table has to be a calculated decision.

Too many recruiters - and candidates - weed out relationships rather than make attempts to build them.

Human nature, I guess.

Sandra McCartt said:
Steve,
I would agree that it is a two way street, however i have seen very few open positions where the company only had or considered one candidate. Yes, Steve , i know that there are situations where a fabulous candidate has more than one opportunity but at least from my perspective employers normally have more options than the candidates do i opine thats more of the burden falls on the candidate to sell themselves in order to get the offer whether they take it or not. Since this candidate states that the expression on his face may have caused the interview to be cut short, this one may be more candidate error albeit the situation is extreme and almost silly.

We beat the drum with clients to overlook all kinds of quirks with our candidates so as you say the street runs both ways, but let's not forget who is driving the train in most situations.

Steve Levy said:
Stephanie and Peter-

12 succeeded, how many are having a breakdown? What is sad and funny is that the news outlets have been able to push the economy off the front page. Thankfully the Financial Times has gone back to business!

This reaction comes from the same do-do generation that has downloaded more MJ songs in the past 24 hours than in the past 11 years.

What I believe an underlying point here is that relatively new recruiters - ok, older recruiters too - will come to the interview their own idea as to how to assess people's abilities. I suppose these folks recruit because they love people. So stop pushing the "blame"' on the candidate - recruiting is a two way street with equal culpability on both sides.

Not everyone can be a superstar; some people - candidates and recruiters - really are potential future winners of Darwin Awards.
And your point is what? I really don't get where you're going with this!

I'm done with this topic. My point was this particular segment, regardless of the candidate or the recruiter was of NO value. This type of stuff does not come up that often. So we're discussing it why????????

Ciao! Understand it's raining like nuts in New York the past month. Sorry about that!

Steve Levy said:
Stephanie and Peter-

12 succeeded, how many are having a breakdown? What is sad and funny is that the news outlets have been able to push the economy off the front page. Thankfully the Financial Times has gone back to business!

This reaction comes from the same do-do generation that has downloaded more MJ songs in the past 24 hours than in the past 11 years.

What I believe an underlying point here is that relatively new recruiters - ok, older recruiters too - will come to the interview their own idea as to how to assess people's abilities. I suppose these folks recruit because they love people. So stop pushing the "blame"' on the candidate - recruiting is a two way street with equal culpability on both sides.

Not everyone can be a superstar; some people - candidates and recruiters - really are potential future winners of Darwin Awards.
Peter my friend, give us a break. The economy is slow. People submit questions, I answer them, and then the "couch" (as Recruiting Animal calls it) add their comments. Call it cheap entertainment...you can always check the little box at the bottom to stop following the thread. Sheesh!

If you don't like the quality of the questions, its ok to submit one of your own (hehehe)... :))

Peter Ceccarelli said:
This type of stuff does not come up that often. So we're discussing it why??????
Claudia's answer is spot on.

We deal with people, not machines.

If "not a fan" can't empathize, redirect, and continue on during a job interview, what would "not a fan" do if he had to deal with an unhappy customer who was having a negative, emotional reaction to something ? would he call them names too?..he'd probably be ostracized by his co workers and be fired in six months anyway.

There's such a thing as being professionally nice.. "not a fan" has to realize he's an invited guest, and as such, has to get over himself and play along with the host a little bit.

Of course, I've done a fair bit of outside sales in my life, so getting along with everyone and moving the process forward is second nature to me.. sadly, many executroids were never told they weren't the most special person in the world, so there is that ego thing to contend with.
Peter...nuts? lmao re:Christie's-ttys

Peter Ceccarelli said:
And your point is what? I really don't get where you're going with this!

I'm done with this topic. My point was this particular segment, regardless of the candidate or the recruiter was of NO value. This type of stuff does not come up that often. So we're discussing it why????????

Ciao! Understand it's raining like nuts in New York the past month. Sorry about that!

Steve Levy said:
Stephanie and Peter-

12 succeeded, how many are having a breakdown? What is sad and funny is that the news outlets have been able to push the economy off the front page. Thankfully the Financial Times has gone back to business!

This reaction comes from the same do-do generation that has downloaded more MJ songs in the past 24 hours than in the past 11 years.

What I believe an underlying point here is that relatively new recruiters - ok, older recruiters too - will come to the interview their own idea as to how to assess people's abilities. I suppose these folks recruit because they love people. So stop pushing the "blame"' on the candidate - recruiting is a two way street with equal culpability on both sides.

Not everyone can be a superstar; some people - candidates and recruiters - really are potential future winners of Darwin Awards.
Let me take this to another related place - bad recruiters (fer God sakes, it isn't always the candidate who's broken) and their bad habits. If this Michael Jackson recruiter had a reason for asking about the one gloved wonder then they should have said so up front - I don't believe in ambiguous interviews; to me they're akin to bait and switch sales.

Peter, the sad fact today is that there's an inordinate amount of bad recruiting taking place; if we can't talk about it, who will?
Actually, I think that Thomas has hit the bulls-eye in terms of the generic issue buried in this question. Although the situation may be a one-off, we've all seen more than our fair share of candidates (and HMs, for that matter) who lack basic skills of emotional intelligence that can help them "empathize, redirect, and continue," as Thomas so aptly calls it. And that's definitely worth the discussion here among this wizened crowd...

Thomas Patrick Chuna said:
If "not a fan" can't empathize, redirect, and continue on during a job interview, what would "not a fan" do if he had to deal with an unhappy customer who was having a negative, emotional reaction to something ? would he call them names too?..he'd probably be ostracized by his co workers and be fired in six months anyway.

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