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.
In my day job, I’m the Head of Products for Improved Experience, where we help employers use feedback to measure and manage competitive advantage in hiring and retention. Learn more about us here.
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