Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Job Interview With a Mime


This article was originally published on the author's LinkedIn profile

Marcel Marceau is probably the most famous pantomimist in the world. Years ago he had a funny bit in the Mel Brooks movie "Silent Movie" where he actually speaks.

Why am I talking about a pantomimist in a column about job interviews? Because today I felt like I was interviewing a mime (pantomimists are referred to as mimes).

Recently, I have been interviewing candidates for some Data Analyst positions in my current project. Today's experience was, I hope, unique. I share here with you now so that you can take note and make sure that you nail your job interviews instead of blowing it like this guy did.

This was a simple, 30 minute phone interview to screen candidates for a longer virtual interview with a team of interviewers.

I used the first eight minutes or so to explain the program and the position and then I launched into the meat of the interview - the candidate's experience.

Me: "Tell me about your experience doing data profiling and data cleansing."

Him: "Yes. I have done that."

Me: "Tell me about what kind of problems with data you have uncovered while doing data profiling, how you found them, and what you did about them."

Him: "Yes. It is common to uncover problems like missing data and bad data during data profiling."

Me: "Well, okay then. I think I have all the information I need. Do you have any questions for me?"

Him: "No. I don't think so."

Me: "Okay. Thanks for taking time to talk with me. We'll be in touch." Click.

We were done and off the phone in about 10 minutes and in 30 more seconds I had fired off an email to the recruiter saying "Pass" on this candidate.

I am really hoping this guy heard the job as I described it and decided it wasn't a good fit. However, rather than giving such a terrible interview, I would have appreciated a candid remark like, "This really doesn't sound like something I want to do. Please remove me from consideration for this role. Thanks."

My fear is that this guy is really this bad at interviewing.

Just so you know, when an interviewer like me asks you to talk about your experience, I am expecting you to tell me what you have done and for whom. Even if you give me a quick synopsis or overview, that is fine (in fact that is great). I can then pick where I want to dig deeper.

While it is true that long answers can be deadly in an interview, really, really short answers in interviews are not a good idea. They don't showcase your skills, which is what you want to do to get an offer (or a follow up interview).

My favorite interviewing book, "Killer Interviews" by Ball and Ball, advises that you keep your responses to no more than 2 minutes long.


Tom Sheppard has been hiring, firing and coaching job seekers for decades. He is the author of Tips and Tricks for Effective Interviews and several other books for job seekers. You can learn more about Tom on his Author Page.


(C) Copyright 2016 Thomas K Sheppard and A+ Results, LLC. All rights reserved.