I am seeing a lot of articles and blogs written about the "interview game", interviewings being like playing poker or how to's about "Playing the Interview Game". 


A game normally connotes a "winner and a loser".  Any interview should be a business meeting between two professionals where both make every effort to provide concise, clear information to the other person involved in the meeting in order that both parties have as much information about the other as possible.  If that happens it is a "win-win" for both parties whether a hire results or not.  In the worst case a contact between two people has been made that if handled in an open ,honest manner by both parties results in a business connection for the future.  In the best case both parties find a common ground that may result in a new position for a productive employee of the company.


Trick questions, "magic bullet" questions like "How many gas stations are there in United States" and/or gamey unclear questions  do not offer the opportunity for a candidate to provide real  and relavant information to the interviewer.  They simply make the interviewer appear incompetant or put the candidate on the defensive.  A competant, well trained interviewer has the ability to put the candidate at ease, ask clear questions, explain requirements and company needs thereby enabling the candidate to know and communicate their skills, accomplishments and abilities or lack of same.  A game playing, incompetant, interviewer is easily recognized by most candidates and becomes a poor reflection of the company.  Playing games by either party is best left for recreation.  The objective is not a winner and a loser, it is an honest evaluation by both parties of the other based on honest information with no tricks or evasive manuvering.


A game playing candidate is easily recognized by a good recruiter or a competant interviewer.  A successful interview should be a business meeting between two people focused on an honest exchange of information to determine if there is a "win-win" not a game of poker, chess, or a contact sport where one party is focused on looking for "tells, weaknesses or secret agendas".


As in the business of living, the business of interviewing is not a game.


Views: 191

Comment by pam claughton on February 3, 2011 at 7:00am

Loved this post, and agree totally. Questions like "what kind of car or animal are you?" are a waste of everyone's time, reflect poorly on the overly cocky interviewer asking them, and most of all, show little respect for the candidate.


The purpose of an interview is to get to know the candidate, to learn more about who they are and what they've done and if that lines up well with what the company needs...the interviewer should also keep in mind that an interview goes both ways. The interviewer would be well served to represent the company in a positive light, to 'sell' why anyone would want to work there. 


Sadly, I've seen candidates turned off by poorly behaved interviewers. Everyone who interviews a candidate is a representative of the company, and it's a shame when a great company loses out on an outstanding candidate because the hr representative has a bad attitude. This was so bad at one client that we had to do damage control on multiple deals, because after meeting the hr rep, candidates wanted to pull out. Fortunately, once they went on to meet everyone else who worked at the company, they realized that the hr individual was not representative of what the company culture was like.


 Candidates are very sensitive to this. Especially as the market heats up and we start seeing more multiple offer situations, it would benefit companies to take care with the first impression that is made via the initial interview. A combative or otherwise bizarre interview that is more about the ego of the interviewer, rather than the candidate, could result in the company being the 'biggest loser'.

Comment by Dave Love on February 3, 2011 at 10:50am
You are right on with the idea of getting to know the candidate.  Too many recruiters jump right into their presentation about how great the company is and it's a great place to work instead of asking some simple questions to start building a relationship with the candidate.  Today's job seekers are more sophisticated that ever before and if they don't know the answer they can find it on the Internet.  Take some time to find out who they are, what their likes are and why they are looking to make a change. Relationships are what this business is all about.  It's where it starts and without them where it all ends.
Comment by Mat von Kroeker on February 3, 2011 at 11:18am
In my last interview before my current position, I was asked "What is your passion about working at our firm?"  C'mon.  First, It's obvious I'm looking for a position that I'm qualified for or you wouldn't have asked me in per my resume. Second, I researched your company and found it professional and with a great mission--- but by no means have I developed anything close to "passion" in reference to your company as of yet.  Maybe enthusiasm, energy, possibilities of reaching career goals, etc., but certainly not passion. Loaded questions like these more times than not set the candidate up for failure (He just wasn't  150% "passionate" enough.) or backs a candidate in a corner for made up answers on the spot.  Needless to say I didn't get the position.  lol
Comment by Sandra McCartt on February 3, 2011 at 11:21am

Pam and Dave

Well said all the way around.  I see no point in making a fact finding meeting some sort of one sided examination of a candidate like a bug under a microscope.  We interview people for a living, candidates only interview during a time of crisis, even interviewing for a better position while employed is a life changing event. 


 If we sit there mentally picking them apart due to body language or any nervous reaction we do the candidate, ourselves and our clients a dis service.  Why not simply say, "You seem nervous, take a breath here, we have plenty of time."  "I am happy to give you all the information i have available about this job, you tell me as much as you can about what you have done, then we can decide if this is a good fit for you and what you want to do."


I believe it is our job to help our candidates articulate their qualifications in depth then help them refine their presentation.  I start all interviews by telling a candidate that it is not my job to pick them apart and rule them out.  It is my job to explore their qualifications with them then we can both decide if we want to move forward.  It is not just my decision they have input.


If i feel that a candidate is not a fit I take the time to explain why i feel that way and give them the opportunity to respond.  Interviews are not about the interviewer, they are about the candidate and the job.



Comment by Sandra McCartt on February 3, 2011 at 11:35am


100% agree with you.  I am so sick of the words "passion and compelling" i could scream.  I would much rather hear an interviewer ask, "Please tell me why you have interest in this job and/or our company?" Or, "what would you like to know about our company"

At the point of initial interview anyone who says they are "passionate" about a job or a company is at best being a drama king or queen, throwing buzz words around.  Questions like that , in my opinion, simply make the interviewer sound like a phony, hotshot.  It makes intelligent people with a sense of humor want to say something like, "I was't passionate about your company until i drank some Acai Berry energy drink on the way here, now i'm jazzed."  Of course they don't but i have had many candidates debrief after an interview by telling me that the person who did the initial interview should be an "As seen on TV, spinmeister".


If as an interviewer your "passion" in life is to trip up a candidate you need to work with a group of arrogant teenagers for a month or two.

Comment by Christopher Perez on February 3, 2011 at 11:50am

Well said, Sandra.

In my experience, transparency, candor, and professionalism on my part foster the same from the people I deal with-- both on the client and on the candidate side. I prefer a structured but flexible and more organic approach to interviewing. I still make sure to gather the information I need, but I enjoy using different approaches to get it. Those approaches differ depending on the communication style of the person I'm working with. Some will argue that it is critical to put everyone through the same exact process to ensure consistency and validity of results, but I respectfully disagree. Not only does this approach yield positive results for me, it also keeps me challenged and fulfilled because there is always something new to discover or mine in each interaction.

Slightly off your original point of not making IV'ing into a game, but I felt like sharing that.

Comment by Sandra McCartt on February 3, 2011 at 12:43pm


I dont' think your comments are off the point at all.  I think trying to put everyone through the exact same process becomes a cloning process.  Certainly we should not just "softball" a candidate who presents well without any help and makes a great first impression but to make it obvious that we are asking scripted interview questions so all will be equal is a farce.  People are individuals, their backgrounds are all different, their personalities differ so unless the client is looking for clones i believe that interviews should be focused on each individual. 


A more polished and sophisticated candidate may not necessarily be the best fit.  I believe we have more responsibility to the candidate who is not as polished to be sure that we give them every opportunity to level the playing field rather than just picking the "pretty one".


I take the position that most people are honest and will be open about their experience, skills, wants and reasons for glitches in their career if given a chance and the opportunity to trust the interviewer enough to share information.  The ones who are not are going to be dishonest no matter what i ask them so trying to play poker with them is a waste of everybody's time.


I believe that if we take the position that people are keeping secrets , or not showing their hand, if you will, we create a posture of trickery that puts the candidate on the defensive.  I see nothing wrong with a clear question if i get the feeling that there is something my candidate is not telling me.  I will simply say, "i get the feeling that there is something you are concerned about telling me about your last position, if there is something we need to address, this is the place to talk about it not later when it is too late and might cost you the job or blow the interview."  Most of the time if there is a concern it will come out at that point and can be discussed.  If there is something it

Comment by Gay Carter on February 3, 2011 at 1:36pm

Excellent overview, concise, and very true.  We have something very similar that we include in our Interview Tip Summary that we provide to candidates before their interview.

Comment by Sandra McCartt on February 3, 2011 at 3:58pm

Let me give some credit here to my associate Thomas Chuna, recruiter, outplacement consultant and owner of Patrick Int'l.  When Tom preps a candidate or works with displaced people, the first thing he says to them is, "An interview is a business meeting, handle it the same way in all aspects that you would handle a business meeting with a customer or a supervisor if you were already employed with the company."

I suggest to both those of you who interview as well candidates that it does not get much better than that.  There is no win lose in an interview.  If being yourself is not a fit it only means that the next one may have your name written all over it.  Let's take the pressure off, throw out the games, stop the poker playing, poker faced interviews, power trips and all the other silly , tricky stuff .


How about we talk to each other like business associates, forget all the guru crap, behaviorial psyche , etc. etc.  and just be ourselves.  Wouldn't that be refreshing?


Comment by Barbara Goldman on February 6, 2011 at 10:51am

Great post, and not something I think about often. You are so right. Interviewing is not a game. And, interviewers who ask the 'probing' and 'behavioral' questions are open to their own interpretations about what the answers actually mean. Fresh from the course they just took, or maybe impressed by the latest book on hiring, or body language, interviewers use our candidates as guinea pigs for the latest interviewing fad.

Are high performers supposed to answer this way, or that way? If the interviewer perceives an answer to be wrong, or a red flag, is it really? Unless the interviewer is highly trained in human behavior assumptions are made that may be correct, or incorrect.

Can I puke?


You need to be a member of RecruitingBlogs to add comments!

Join RecruitingBlogs


All the recruiting news you see here, delivered straight to your inbox.

Just enter your e-mail address below


RecruitingBlogs on Twitter

© 2024   All Rights Reserved   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Privacy Policy  |  Terms of Service