September 15, 2012

The Trouble with Interviews

Just why and how did job interviews get to be more nerve-racking than a ride on the Ghost Train? Or, perhaps its just me?  I hate them - in the way I hate the dentist, and medical screenings. At least with the latter, there’s a clear purpose. In the case of job interviews, you are plonked in a designated chair, and verbally probed, by a colourless panel, whose onesided questioning technique, is lifted straight from mind-numbing corporate-speak, and standard HR manuals.  In response, you try to be engaging, inserting industry buzzwords here and there, careful not to let slip any of the baggage that comes from one or two decades of work and life experience.   

Just for once, I want to be interviewed by a decent panel. I want people with chutzpah, who have had to run with the office wolves ...who look like they've eaten more roast dinners than my dog. Moreover, I know I shouldn't compare everything to television culture - but please - why can't I be interviewed by a Jonathan Ross, a Barbara Walters? - or even a Hughesy?  -  at least someone who shows some genuine interest in my CV; who reflects the admirable qualities, that appear in their organization's website mission statements.

And just like in Dancing with the Stars, at the end of the interview, why can't I get immediate, on-the-spot feedback from the panel, who could hold up their score out of ten? - and then place my name on a leaderboard to be rated alongside fellow interviewees?

Alternatively - they could apply Graham Norton's red chair technique - whereby if panel members become bored with my answers, they can press a button that ejects me (or THEM!) from the chair, and out of the room, never to be heard from again - until of course,  I contact them for feedback on my interview performance. 

I just long for the more leisurely times ... let's say the 1980s and 1990s, when it was not uncommon to be given a cup of tea! during job interviews. And there was usually someone senior and motherly on the panel, who would take the focus off you and wander down their own memory lane.


Now schedules are tight, time is money, and staying on-topic is crucial. If you're lucky they'll offer water (though the "Idiot's Guide to Successful Job Interviews" advises you don't drink it).  

I liken the interview process in these lean times, to speed-dating (without the dimmed lighting, cocktails, exchange of star-signs, declaration of marital status, and cheap bling).


The Art and Etiquette of Rejection



  1. I got a job with the public service at 50 and it is still the least, in my experience, ageist of employers. Most people in my Department are over over 30, at least 40% (there were more before the SGI)are over 45. The oldest employees are in their 70s. The Grads are young, the admin staff are mostly young but no one takes you seriously until you are at least 35. In fact my daughter who joined another Department at age 21 was asked why such a young person would want to work for them. We had to come up with a response that was better than, because my mum said I'd like it. The real reason was the structure, good maternity leave and a strong union presence in the workplace so I knew we could protect her as she found her feet.

  2. I have heard that once you have your foot in the door of a government organization, you have good long-term job security, and all of the advantages that go along with a stable job. By the way - thanks for stopping by at my blog.