Why Employers And Applicants Stink At Interviewing

What's the real reason some employers and applicants stink at interviewing? We’ll tackle both of these groups in this article in a moment, but first, let’s think about your career history. Have you ever bombed an interview? Or, have you had an experience where the people on the other side of the table made you want to run away from the job, based on their behavior/dynamics? What about this gem: Ever walked into an interview only to see the interviewers obviously scrambling at the last minute trying to skim your resume… giving the impression they haven’t even looked at it until you sat down? Chances are, you have. Let me be clear: professional HR departments, recruiters, and head hunters aside, the rest of hiring interviews are conducted by people who think they have a clue about hiring…but really don’t. Most of these people are small to medium business owners and managers who have never had any formal training in how to hire someone. And it shows. There are tons of online articles about interviews gone wrong, both from a company and applicant perspective. On the employer side, usually the root problem is that the interviewer quite frankly doesn’t know what they are doing and ends up blundering around. Spectacularly, even. Inappropriate or illegal questions, poor preparation in advance of the interview, lack of internal communication about prospective candidates, internal problems that come boiling to the surface, or just plain wacky behavior all count as interview fails in the employer column. Or it could seem fairly normal until the interview gets underway. Suddenly, the dynamics change and the situation becomes a power struggle – who has the job vs. who wants the job, or who has the skill assets vs. the company which desperately needs them. Applicants, on the other hand, fail horrendously for the most part because of one major factor: They don’t have a sense of their own value. Throughout all of my client interviews, I always throw out the question: Why should someone hire you, and guess what? Most people fumble on this question. If you can't tell someone why they should hire you (and therefore know your value), how do you expect them to buy what you are selling as a potential employee? Prospective employees also fail on other fronts including failing to prepare / do due diligence prior to the interview, exuding self-entitlement, lack of an ability to answer questions concisely and clearly, and not connecting their experience to the job opening. But the real reason why many of these job interviews end up stinking so much beyond all the points mentioned above (and more) is for one reason: Employers and applicants fail to think of an interview as a CONVERSATION. There is so much pressure put on people to perform and keep what’s at stake a top-of-mind that the conversation simply doesn’t take place. It becomes an ugly battleground where some of the worst things come out. To make the interview experience a conversation, think about how you might meet someone and develop a friendship. Obviously, what’s at stake in a workplace is greatly different than a friendship, but the concepts are the same:


  1. What do you have in common?
  2. How can you help / benefit each other?
  3. Do you like each other?
  4. How will you interact and keep a solid, mutually beneficial connection going?
  5. What would you like to do together in terms of goal achievement?
  6. What kind of team and tools will help you achieve the goals?
When an employer and applicant come to consensus an interview is really a conversation or business meeting, the pressure is off and a real connection can begin. Now you know why employers and applicants stink at interviewing.

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