General Interest

The Job Interview Disconnect

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I went to meet an acquaintance at the local coffee shop – and I arrived early. While waiting, a life drama started to play out. A guy in his early-to-mid fifties came in. He was dressed in a good suit (and tie) and as he scanned the place, he seemed quite nervous, uncomfortable. I forgot about him as my guest arrived. Later, though, I saw him in my range of vision. By this time he was sitting at a table opposite a fellow who was in his mid 30’s. Mr. Mid-30’s had a clipboard and pen in hand and occasionally made a note or two as Mr. Mid 50’s spoke. While this may all seem quite innocent – reality was different.

Let’s start with appearances. It was apparent to me that Mr. Mid-30’s was the one conducting the interview and that Mr. Mid-50’s wanted something from him – probably a job. Yet given the view from my table, there was a decided disconnect. Mr. Mid-30’s was dressed in a golf-shirt, khaki’s, and loafers (without socks). Our mid-50’s fellow, as I said earlier, was in a suit, tie, formal shoes and socks. Now, I remember having heard the expression, “You can never go wrong by wearing a suit.” Yet, it seemed that for this interview in this environment, the stilted formality was a very wrong choice. Mr. Mid-50’s didn’t do his homework. He should have scoped out the coffee shop a few days prior to his interview and observed the natives. Was he wrong in wearing a suit? Not necessarily. Had he checked out the environment in advance, he might have seen other interviewees who were wearing suits, but who had ditched the tie and were wearing their shirts open-neck. Nice compromise.

What concerned me even more than attire, however, was that Mr. Mid-50’s portrayed an attitude of sheer desperation. Yes, he may have been out of work for two years and things may indeed be desperate. Yet he’s someone who doesn’t do his homework. I’m sure that when you’re in your mid-50’s (or older) and you’re being interviewed for a job�by someone young enough to be your child, it can seem disconcerting.��But you can turn around what might be a difficult situation – with some effort.��Find common ground. What do you like about the company? What do you like about that line of work? What experiences have you had that would contribute to company growth?� In other words, do your homework – and let it show!

Remember, you’re never too old for homework.

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