Faced with an interview, each career seeker seeks to showcase the best in themselves – almost confident that the prospect employer has no doubts. Surprise! They also know and are busy innovating ways to cub this overwhelming brilliance that the job seekers seem to acquire. For some positions that require some character orientation that may not be easily picked up in an interview, the prospective employer may resort to certain methods that are not conventional. In such cases, even the career seeker has no idea that they are being interviewed. Let's look at some – don't be embarrassed if it ever occurred to you.
Angela has been interviewed twice for an Executive Assistant in a blue chip company. The HR Manager just called her to invite her for the last interview. In addition he followed the invitation with an email. Angela just failed the interview. She gave the prospect employer a short cut to short listing. What did she do? She has been highlighting due diligence as one of her outstanding competencies but on this case she did not even acknowledge the email. The interview still stands but she will take it as a formality.
While in one of the last sessions of interviews for a Marketing Manager, Gilbert agreed to be taken for lunch by the Managing Director. During the lunch meeting, Gilbert embarrassed himself by the number of people he was struggling to put off to give him time with his prospect boss. At one time a young, controversially dressed lady showed up and hugged him, thereby taking over the conversation. The Managing Director did not show any disgust – but in his mind, "Gilbert is an unstructured brilliant person who has not distinguished himself using an own code of communication and choice of friends. He is everything to everybody and is a potential risk to the reputation of the company. He would not even be comfortable as a member of the local club that the company subscribes membership to".
Faith has come out in the first round of an interview as a very humble receptionist with ability to sort out all kinds of external encounters face to face and even through telephone conversation. This day, there is a caller who is asking for a name of a member of staff that does not exist but he insists that he has just spoken to the target respondent. The argument hots up and Faith hangs the phone. He calls again and complains about the hanging of the phone and Faith gets indecent with threats. Two weeks after the call Faith, who was very optimistic of success and was initially the panelist best bet, has never been called for an interview and the position has been filled. Guess who the caller was?
Adam Kent, the Managing Director of a Central African milling plant is meeting finalist candidates for the position of Business Improvement Advisor. Phillip is six minutes in the interview process with Mr Kent and all over sudden he rises up. "Phillip, I hope you do not mind me walking around during our chat – been interviewing the whole morning" he says. "Feel free to stand if you feel more comfortable that way – provided we have a conversation". Phillip then stands and the conversation goes on with Mr Kentstaring mostly out of the widow while leading on the cabinets. Ten minutes later Mr Kent says, "Do you mind if I smoke a cigarette? Do you smoke yourself? Come on, pick a stick – I smoke in my office". FYI Phillip is a smoker. What do you think the Managing Director was testing, if he was? Bear in mind, neither of the options was wrong – but the impressions were different. Also figure out the kind of responses that would portray Phillip decently - smoking or not smoking.
Impressions work really well if they are either representative of ones personal character or if they have been intensely internalized. Doing something or not, speech or silence, facial insensitivity or lack of it; all speak some language.