Interviewing advice from the other side of the desk

Hiring employee

In this blog, we talk a lot about how candidates can best present themselves when they’re out interviewing for a job. Today, I want to share with you some actual comments I’ve received from hiring managers about people they’ve interviewed. Read on, and learn what to do and what to avoid!

A woman came in to interview for our open Director role. She was great on paper. Years of relevant experience and many connections in the industry. There was no question that she was qualified for the job. When she came into the office and sat down, she began to speak. And she spoke. And spoke… I asked her a fairly straightforward question, and she gave a 10-minute answer! The feedback from the other people who interviewed her was the same—she dominated the conversation and didn’t give others a chance to speak. It’s worth noting that this assessment was the same from both men and women who met with her.  Lesson learned: know when to stop talking and be mindful of others’ time. 

My colleague and I were interviewing a candidate the other day. When she came into the conference room, the first thing I noticed was her makeup. It was so heavy that it almost looked theatrical. It was truly bizarre. I actually found that her heavy makeup distracted me from what she was saying. It is literally the only thing I remember about her appearance. Lesson learned: you want to have a presence and be memorable. Be sure that you’re remembered for your skills and experience, and not for your appearance. 

I met with a guy for an open position we have. I just got the sense that he was disingenuous. I asked him a question about how he handles demanding, and at times difficult personalities, as a few of our internal clients think that they should always be our #1 priority.  His reply: “I’ve established airtight service-level agreements based on three dimensions: content/deliverable type, content/deliverable dependencies, and requester significance. Establishing fixed-length sprints no matter the project and a routine backlog grooming process can help alleviate prioritization issues too.” He works at a major investment bank. I just can’t see a managing director at one of these banks relenting to what he described. I was looking for an answer about appealing to someone’s values as a way to get them to come around to your point of view. Lesson learned: if you’re going to give an example of something you’ve done, make sure it’s both relevant to the role for which you’re interviewing and plausible.

We had a referral from someone within our sales organization who worked with this guy at another company. He comes in to interview, and spends a large part of his time telling us what a great guy our colleague is. When asked specific questions about past experiences, he did not relate any of them to the role for which he was interviewing. It was as if he thought he was a shoo-in because of the employee referral, and that the interview was just a formality. Lesson learned: relate your experience to the role you’re discussing, and don’t assume anything about your candidacy.


I was interviewing a man who described the company he was working for as “in shambles.” He then went on to tell me what a “wreck” his previous company was. I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe he was the problem, and not his employers. Lesson learned: no one wants to work with someone who is negative. Be positive and never trash talk a current or past employer.


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