Roland B. Vendeland

Warmth, wisdom, and wit.

Roland B. Vendeland

Interview Success: Seeing Things from the Employer’s Perspective

By Roland Vendeland

Although no longer dumbfounded, I am taken aback when professionals interviewing for jobs tell prospective employers what they won’t do.

Without being offered a position, they tell interviewers that they will not travel, work overtime, use certain equipment, accept additional assignments or work with certain people. And then they wonder why they don’t secure job offers.

I have an extremely talented client who tells prospective employers that they don’t know what they are doing and that he does. I believe what he says is true. I also believe that he will not secure a job by telling prospective employers this unvarnished truth. I have suggested to my client that he tones down his approach, but my advice has gone unheeded. If he is to succeed in his job search, he needs to see things less from his viewpoint and more from the employer’s perspective.

Perhaps the following story could set him straight.

I brought in corporate human resource directors to conduct mock job interviews with a class of high school students at risk of dropping out of school. Following the interviews, the Human Resource Directors evaluated the students on their performance including appropriateness of speech, dress, grooming and quality of responses.

The students were polite while the corporate representatives were present. Once the professionals left, I sensed an undercurrent of discontent.

“What’s on your minds?” I asked, and received a barrage of complaints inquiring, “Who do they think they are to tell us how to dress, speak and act?” Half of the heads in the class bobbed in agreement.

Not pleased that half of the class failed to gain significant insight from the experience, I pursued additional converts. “They didn’t say that you had to do anything,” I pointed out.

“Yes, they did,” a chorus called back.

“No, they didn’t!” I protested.

“Yes, they did!” bellowed every student in the room.

Feeling that I had agitated them enough to gain their attention, I continued, “They said that you had to do what they asked only if you wanted to have a snowball’s chance in h--- of ever working for their companies.”

“That’s not fair,” proclaimed the voice of a gangly teenager. His hair was clipped close on the left, collar length on the right and adorned with a green diagonal stripe on the longer side.

“Why, because you don’t want to do what the employer wants you to do? When you got your haircut, what would you have done if the barber had given you a crewcut? Would you have thanked him and given him a generous tip?”

“No way! I would have stiffed him and never gone back.”

“Let me see if I understand this,” I said. “You would fire your employee for not following your instructions, but you expect your employer not to place any demands upon you. Good luck in your job search. You have limited your employment opportunities.”

“To what?” asked Green Stripe.

“Unemployment, self-employment or McDonald’s,” I said.

Two-thirds of the heads bobbed in agreement.

Now, if only I can get the attention of my professional clients.