“You Are Too Competent For Us To Hire”


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Interviewing with an honest employer rarely happens. And what I mean is that a completely honest employer would be sharing what is really going on in the organization and why they really don’t want to hire you. Having read between the lines often enough, please enjoy the following “honest interview” and maybe it will ease your stress of finding a job by laughing a little today.

 

So I read a job advertisement recently that I could have written myself for my work experience. It was close to home, stated a salary range that I felt was workable and fair, and the benefits package was quite complete. I was excited about the range of responsibilities and what appeared to be management’s accurate support of the learning function. I noticed I could apply using LinkedIn, so I did. Less than an hour later the recruiter is calling me.

This first conversation was how “well my key words popped on my resume” and she knew immediately I was a great candidate. She read the advertised job description to me, (I wanted to thank her since she no doubt thought I had been struggling with the big words) and asked what questions I had. I responded that it was clear so far, but I would probably have more detailed questions when I met with the hiring manager. She asked me when I could come in to complete a quick personality assessment, (no not online, in person) and the following day I was onsite filling out a two sheet assessment with 10 multiple choice questions.

After the grueling assessment was complete, she graded it in front of me. She was so happy when I got 100% correct, she marked an A+ with a smiley face on my paper! Grinning from ear to ear she said the next step was a panel interview with several line managers since the position supported all divisions they had a stake in finding the right person. That interview was scheduled for the following week.

I arrived for my panel interview dressed in my Sunday best, only to be greeted by 10 people dressed down for what I could only assume was Spring Cleaning Day. I had asked about what dress code was appropriate for this interview and was told a suit and tie was the norm. The group had set up a U-shape of tables and I was put in the middle on a swivel chair so I could easily rotate and face the questioners. Each person had 10 minutes to ask questions, so an hour and forty minutes later we were done. I was told they had 5 minutes left for me to ask a question. I said, “Would each of you answer this one question for me, what is the purpose of the learning function in a corporate environment?” I heard at least 4 of them say, “Huh?” Safe to say this was a very painful exercise for these 10 managers, but insightful for me.

Yet three days later the recruiter called me and said all 10 managers wanted to see me progress to the final interview with the hiring manager. I was pleased and eager to finally talk with my potential manager.

I arrived 10 minutes early. After waiting 20 minutes after the appointment time with no one arriving, I called the recruiter to find out if an emergency had occurred and we should reschedule the interview. She said she would check, and 10 minutes later she arrived with the hiring manager.

We were escorted into a conference room, sat down and that is when I noticed he didn’t have any notes, paper or writing instrument. No phone, tablet, not even my resume. He smiled at me and said, “you were here early, I’m always late to meetings.” I bit my lip and stayed quiet.

He begins, “so you are interviewing for what job?” And that is when it dawned on me he really had no clue what was going on, who I was, and what he was looking for in a job skill set. After answering with the posted title, he launched into what he no doubt thought was a great opener, “tell me about yourself” and I said, “that is a rather long book, is there a particular chapter about me you would like me to start off talking about?” He didn’t, so I chose a rather quick history of accomplishments in the field for this job, and asked if he wanted more detail about any of those points. He said, “wow, you have a lot of experience, is this job a good fit for you?” I responded that the printed job posting had a wide range of requirements and goals which would allow me to stay engaged. I asked him what his top priority was for this role, and he said, “I don’t know yet.”

He then launched into a series of questions that made me realize where his personal development plan would begin. “Are you married? Do you have kids? What ages are your kids? Do you have parents you need to take care of? How old are you? Do you have a wife or a partner? Are you planning to retire soon or do you need to work into your 80’s?” And my all-time favorite, “Can you use the men’s restroom, or are you conflicted? We only have Men’s and Women’s restrooms”.

The following day the HR Director called me, and said the hiring manager thought I was too competent, and that I would cause problems. He wants people that know less than he does, but can still get the job done. I responded that I appreciated the honesty, and empathized with her challenge to fill this role. I then asked if I could share some of the questions he had asked. I finished with an assumption that she knew these were illegal to ask an applicant and she said, “Really?”

After talking with my attorney, she said I definitely won’t have to wait until I’m 80 to retire now! My settlement check should last several decades!

 

PS – Was this a fictional experience or not? You tell me.

 

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