Monday, July 20, 2009

Lying Resumes and Other Stories

Last week I wrote about how I am interviewing new marketing contractors to join my team. The interviews are progressing well and in fact I made an offer to one candidate. The interesting thing is that things did not unfold as I had expected. I received about 50 applications for the position (a sign of the times, no doubt), spoke to about 6 people over the phone and invited 3 individuals to interview in person for the position.

The morning of the interviews I briefed the interviewing team, showing them each candidate’s work portfolio and sharing their resume. On paper I had already made my choice – I had a stellar candidate all lined up, with an amazing portfolio of work, a strong resume and experience in my industry. It was as good as it gets. As far as I was concerned, this person would get the job if she could simply pull off a decent interview.

She blew it big time. Three of us interviewed each candidate and all three of us left the interview feeling like there was no way we could work with this person. My ever eloquent VP of Sales told me that he ended the interview so he would not have to smack this person in the face. What was the problem? A very high-strung, passive aggressive interviewee. All of us felt as if this candidate was looking down her nose at us. Making faces and disapproving noises at our previous decisions and proposed strategy. Now, there is nothing wrong with criticism, so long as it’s constructive, and so long as you have taken the time to learn the lay-of the land before making sweeping pronouncements.

I was simply turned off. I asked for this person’s hourly rate, and instead of quoting it to me, a five minute discussion ensued. I asked the candidate how she would go about building a plan of action if she got the job, and she started interrogating me, forcing me to re-state the question three times to get even a semblance of an answer. She also took the time to explain to every member of the interviewing team what the problem was with our offices’ air-conditioning system. I feel blessed. We were able to avoid a train wreck that would have cost me months of delays and thousands of dollars.

This is proof positive, if you needed it, that you can never trust a person’s resume or portfolio on their own. A phone screening does not give you a good enough sense of someone’s personality. Nothing can replace a nice, long, painful interview to illustrate exactly what you’re dealing with. God bless the interview.

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frugal zeitgeist said...

Yay! Sounds like you dodged a bullet, all right. You inspired me to post an anecdote about an interview I did once. Thanks for the memories!

Anonymous said...

An insightful post on "Lying Resumes and Other Stories".An important point is a resume and cover letter should be the marketing tools that help candidate to land the position that is perfect for him.


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