Interviewing Nightmares!

When you think you've heard or seen it all!

What was your most memorable interviewing moment? Was it scary, awkward or funny, outrageous, eye-opening, ridiculous, or revolting?  What words would you use to describe how you felt? 

Do you have any interviewing nightmares?

I do!

My staff would try to convince me that I had to write a book on my crazier interviewing stories. I couldn’t do it. Whenever I thought I heard it all, every story, every excuse, every tactic on getting the job, and almost every example of how clueless we all are during the interview process, until I realized I hadn’t. There was always another story to top my top story.  

Interviewing can be a nightmare. Especially when you are desperate to find a job and can’t seem to crack the code.

Interviewing can be a nightmare! Especially when you’ve been burnt by too many liar – liar pants on fire applicants.

Interviewing for most is akin to a colonoscopy without the anesthesia. The probing, prodding and uncomfortable positions. And then the anxiety and stress as you wait for the results.  

How do both sides come together and make this painful process as painless as possible, without anesthesia? How do we stop the interviewing madness? 

By getting real!

That’s it?

Yep get real! 

For the interviewee – be yourself, not some weird caricature of yourself that is immediately detected. Don’t suppress yourself so only part of you shows up. 

For recruiters and hiring managers – get real when defining your ideal candidate. 

I’ve written hundreds of job descriptions, some of my best works of fiction. The ideal candidates I was describing resembled Harlequin romances with Fabio on the cover – all airbrushed and fluffed up to fit my fantasy of a perfect hire.  Right until I realized that my ideal candidate Fabio, isn’t as fabulous on the job as he was in the interview. My eyes were too focused on what I wanted, not what was right in front of me. 

So I got real!

Let’s get back to my first question what was your most memorable interviewing moment? I had mine this week, and it was a doozy! 

You’ve probably been there before. DJ walked into the room with elegance, sophistication, and beauty that spoke power!  She had something going on that was very attractive and exciting! Her magnetic energy was moving through the air. 

But an obvious, and confusing, shift occurred when DJ descended into my mock interview chair. She sighed so deeply her dilemma filled the room. The DJ, who walked in, had somehow lost her power, her energy, her magnetism! 

Which one is the real woman I wondered, the delightful or deflated one? 

DJ struggled as if the first question had snapped and trapped her into a straight jack!

But it wasn’t me, nor the question that strapped her in; it was all the so called experts that had coached DJ from the time she was interviewing for her first high school job.

Their advice: Do not bring that “thing” into any job interview. Don’t even talk about it!

Too many people advised or recommended to DJ that she should not let the best part of her, the singer/entertainer part, emerge during interviews for her day job.

So 10% of DJ shows up to her interviews leaving this superstar underemployed, but the other 90% of DJ was begging to be heard.

Her sigh got deeper, as she sunk and slumped down into the chair.

“This is so hard to do. It feels fake. I don’t know what to say.”

And this was after spending time with her earlier in the day establishing her strengths and providing her direction on how to structure her response when answering these tough questions.

I wanted the superstar DJ to shine, so I asked her, “How would you respond if you could sing your answer?”  

This time, DJ released a different sigh, one of relief.  DJ sat up, opened up, and belted out her perfect answer. By singing her strengths, DJ shined as brightly in that chair as she did when she walked into the room. 

Where that question came from, I will never know, but it was the perfect question, and I got a perfect answer because I really want DJ to succeed. 

What made it such a doozy? 

After conducting over 10,000 interviews, this was the first time I cried!  

  • I cried because it was beautiful!
  • I cried because my client had the guts to get real!
  • I cried because DJ has a beautiful, jaw-dropping voice!
  • I cried because DJ created a song that perfectly depicted her strengths!  
  • I cried tears of joy as DJ’s joy shined through; she was magnificent!

I cried because DJ was set free to succeed wherever she worked! 

DJ knew in her work as an entertainer that: 

  • real sells
  • real resonates 
  • real relaxes the mind 
  • real energizes the soul 
  • real speaks clearly and powerfully
  • real connects you to your audience

Yet she forgot that real works in any workplace. The same skills, talents, and strengths that DJ has successfully used on stage are the same skills, talents, and strengths that DJ used in her day jobs. Her energy, her creativity, her boldness, her ability to think on her feet, her ability to tinker with an idea and make it her own, and her innate gift to read her audience worked where ever DJ worked! 

DJ could now see the connection and correlation between her day jobs and her singing career. And for the first time, she felt free to show up 100% herself, no longer bound by bad advice.  

So the next time you see a candidate struggling to articulate their value, don’t judge them, get real with them. Take a risk and ask them to draw their answers, dance their answers, write out their answers, build or belt out their answers. Let them solve a problem, write code, fix your computer, or find that missing penny. Give them permission to be real and release them to answer your question in their language. 

By doing so, you could finally find the “real” ideal candidate that you’ve been searching to hire. Rather than continued to be fooled by the blowhard frauds that know how to speak their answers but make for nightmarish hires when they can’t walk their talk. 

Let’s get real by sharing your story, either as the interviewer or interviewee, a time when you were real that led to you finding the dream candidate or landing your dream job.