My Interviews – A series of unfortunate events

Being a Human Resource professional all my working life, I have taken hundreds of interviews for a wide range of mid-level to senior level positions. But after getting interviewed myself, in a prolonged process of the job hunt, I have learnt the many new ground realities.

I remember talking to a candidate in 2004 (being my first job) as part of the screening process. I was not having any clue about which role I was screening him, and I was honest enough to tell him about this. I asked him to just answer the transactional questions before I process him further.

My colleagues overheard and laughed; “why did you tell him that?” He must have felt puzzled.

I can only imagine that candidate’s plight more now than ever. 13 years later, now I am a candidate and most of the time I realise that I am talking to clueless recruiters. The only difference is that most of them don’t even know or realise that they are clueless.

Whether it is a single HR person or the interview panel, a bridge is to be formed by both the stakeholders, the company and the candidate for an effective and satisfying hire. Sitting on the other side of the bridge, I am sharing my story, from a candidate’s perspective.

Interviewer’s interviewing skills

The purpose of the interview is to gather as much information as possible from the candidate in order to judge if s/he will be able to perform well in the given job, or at least s/he has great potential of performing, as ready-made skills may not be available in the fast-changing world of today. In some of my experiences of interview giving, I realised that different levels of interviews are not synchronized. Each interviewer keeps on asking the similar set of questions and often the questions are not even relevant to the job.

I wonder, why many companies don’t invest in getting their interview panel go through an “interviewing training “or build an interviewer capability model, to prepare them for a right selection. Why it is often assumed that people know this skill if they are eligible to hire.

The dilemma of follow up

It’s really a dangerous space I have been in and have seen fellow job hunters in the same situation too. Most of the time the candidates’ deals with a cliff hanger response like, “We will get back to you” or worse “the forever silence” from the interviewing side. Although in many multinational companies it is considered polite to receive a ‘Thank-you’ mail from a candidate; but in the local scenarios the candidate is categorised as “Clingy”. I have considered myself lucky if the interviewer or recruiter has given me a timeline to give a response and stuck to it without my following up. But most of the time, there is some ambiguous response if one follow-up.

To follow or not? This is always a big dilemma for most candidates. They often wonder if the company is worth working if at all they are invited after a long suspense.

The Unexpected Response

After giving 4 to 6 rounds of interviews from junior to senior management levels, all you expect is a genuine feedback rather than a silence, or ambiguous response.

You feel you did great as you talked to the top management with very positive body-language, and discussed the future of the role. I had a long positive discussion with a company’s Board of Director as well and then …………. got the ‘unexpected response’. You hear things like, we don’t have the budget now, your skill sets are not matching, the position has gone on hold (Suddenly!), and there is a change in our business strategy (Overnight!)

Would it be so wrong to get a constructive feedback from the interviewer? Why in professional scenario giving a silence is a form of communicating ‘No’?

Career Break Phobia

A lot of recruiters suffer from this even now, especially in India. Although in most of the developed countries, it is considered healthy to take a break in the career for pursuing passions or further education. But In India, despite having long exposure to MNC culture, still people are judged based on breaks in their careers. While writing this article itself, I got a call from a recruiter and she disconnected the call after learning that I am not working currently. Why is it so wrong? Why the acceptability to have a career break is so low? Especially when the whole world is talking about innovation, thinking differently, developing a passion for performing new challenges, how can one get all these skills when stuck in only routine work day in and out?

The skills or talent gets only refreshed and one gets a new perspective to perform better in newer ways, with breaks. But some people still think such breaks reduce your talent or one unlearns everything one knows about performing a job.

I think India has a long way to go in order to be able to conduct interviews professionally and in an effective way. Fortunately, in some cases, the wheel is turning, but I wish transparent communication and basic courtesies would broaden the horizon in interviewing field.

What have been your experiences? And if you are a hiring manager, suggest how can you help your recruiters/ interviewers?

Looking forward to your responses in the comments section below.

New Year Resolution: What do you plan to leave this year?

December is here! Every year, last month of the year goes through an unsaid pressure. Everyone likes to reflect back on their good and bad experiences and memories. Many people also wonder, how come December is here so soon?

The mind starts planning for the next year, and it’s time to make resolutions consciously or subconsciously. Even if you don’t make resolutions formally, the thought always crosses your mind.

Although it is positive to talk about learning and starting new things as a new booster in life, often leaving few things help you detox your mind, body and soul, making you feel fresh and charged up.

So before you start making New Year resolutions, what are you going to leave this year?

Here is my list of few things, I plan to “leave this year”.

Excuses for not getting up early and go for a run: When I was in Hyderabad, I was a regular runner and even completed few half marathons. After moving to Mumbai, I blamed everything here from congestion, pollution to bad roads as an excuse for not running. I do feel guilty at times, especially when my running buddies are doing extremely well with their running goals.

How do I Plan to achieve this:

  • Find a running buddy
  • Make a doable weekly running calendar
  • Enjoy the tracking and measuring improvements in each run
  • Keep running shoes, clothes and accessory ready a night before

Overindulging on Netflix: If there is a contest on the “Number of hour’s people can watch Netflix”, I would be a likely winner. But I don’t want to be a winner in this. I have already started efforts for reducing the hours, thanks to my new interest in writing. But I definitely want to leave this habit much behind and be a laggard in this. This will reduce my passive engagement hours and I can use my energies in more productive activities.

How do I plan to achieve this:

  • Restrict watching Netflix for not more than 2 hours a day (Just like my mom used to assign TV hours in my school/college years)
  • Watch only the chosen new show or in-progress shows
  • No re-runs
  • Write new articles more often
  • Divert the time to other avenues of entertainment – Reading, taking a walk, listening to Audio (including books)

Skipping breakfast: I know many of us are guilty of this. We get so caught up in morning routine that we either skip breakfast or pay very less attention to it. It’s the only meal in which we can and should consume the maximum calories with a good mix of carbs and proteins. I am already making a ready-to-refer plan for my daily breakfast.

How do I plan to achieve this:

  • Make ready-to-refer and visually appealing breakfast list
  • Get up 15-20 minutes early to have time for a mindful and enjoyable breakfast
  • Enjoy the morning calm and time with self or family

Procrastinating on paperwork: We live in a digital world, more now than ever before. Somehow the paperwork does not seem to end, like filling home loan papers or getting a license. I was never good at it, I was always dependent on my husband to do all the paperwork for me. Some of the paperwork is dumped in some drawer and begging for my attention before the notorious due date. I think it’s time to get over this and leave this habit behind for good.

How do I plan to achieve this:

  • Declutter all the paper
  • Make note of due dates/ pending items
  • Ask for help, only in case not able to complete it
  • If possible move paperwork to digital and preserve environment

Emotional Shopping: Some people call it Retail therapy. There are times when I am in a mall and perfectly happy and I don’t feel the need to shop at all. And then there are those times when I am feeling low and things are not going right, I shop till I get a kick in with some materialistic happiness. Post emotional shopping, I do forget about the actual issue I was going through. It would be so great to pay attention and deal with the emotion rather than buying a pair of shoes. Now is the time to deal with it and leave this habit behind.

How do I plan to achieve this:

  • Enjoy the company of a friend instead of shopping
  • Be aware of my emotion and maybe share and discuss it
  • Put my thoughts in a Journal/ Diary
  • Sleep on it for a day to find perspective

I am already feeling detoxed Just by putting my list together. I will be shortly writing about how to quit bad habits and replace them with good ones.

Do share your thoughts as to what are you going to leave behind this year?


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