Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Interviewing Tips

Our call center had an open house today in the hopes that we could recruit and hire more people. Unemployment is at a very low rate here in Minnesota and the employers are feeling the hit. Entry level positions are hard to fill with great candidates. Our recruitment staff decided an open house was the solution, bringing as many people through the door as possible. What this required of our management team was back-to-back interviewing.

This is what my schedule for the day looked like:

3:00 - Arrive, say hello to a couple of bankers and say hi to Steve
3:02 - Spend fifteen minutes consoling a banker who had a rough morning
3:17 - Have a banker from training stop by to say hello!
3:25 - Go with Steve to visit our other banker in training and do a dance to prove what a dork I am
3:40 - Start interview #1
4:30 - End interview #1
4:31 - Talk to other supervisors and the HR team in charge of the open house
4:40 - Take a quick break
4:55 - Get back to my desk and complete part of a review process due by the end of the day
5:15 - Start interview #2
7:30 - End interview #2
7:31 - Talk with our HR team
7:45 - Go to the recruitment room, waiting for the next interviewee, talk with Steve
8:05 - Give up, go back to my desk to see if I can complete the review process
8:15 - Start interview #3
9:30 - End interview #3
9:31 - Talk with other supervisors about the "success" of this open house
9:45 - Finally take my lunch
10:15 - Talk with a banker as she was going home - this was fun and full of bonding
10:40 - Get back to my desk to finish the review process paperwork
11:25 - Remember another email that I need to send to my boss
11:28 - Realize I forgot an entire part of the review process. Recall the email I just sent to our numbers guy, correct it.
11:35 - Walk out the door with Steve, wishing him a good long weekend (he gets a four-day weekend! Yea for Steve!)

I asked Steve tonight if it felt like he did nothing today. He laughed and said, "No, I felt busy all day. But I feel like I accomplished nothing today." That is what I feel like. I was running all day, but I never got to do the really fun stuff of spending time with our team.

Now the reason for this post was not to complain about my day but to give some pointers to those interviewing out there on what to do and what not to do while you are being interviewed.

  • Turn off your cellular phone. If you do happen to forget to turn it off, don't take the call. This happened TWICE today.
  • Bring in your identification card. If you are applying at a bank (read as BONDED company requiring background checks because you are handling people's financials), the bank will probably ask you for your ID number.
  • Speak clearly. Mumbling while interviewing for a phone job does not score you points.
  • Use complete sentences. This is a professional environment. Act like you are a professional.
  • After the interviewer has explained that employees are rated on how quickly they can help customers, do not proceed to take 10 minutes to answer every question. Repeating yourself over and over does not make you look better.
  • When you are the one making the interview last for over two hours because you can't shut up, do NOT complain about how long the interview is taking.
  • Answer the questions asked. Pulling random facts that do not relate into the answer does not help.
  • Researching the company you are interviewing is a good idea. When you only quote the website to the interviewer and offer no concrete examples of how you meet the company's vision, you do not sound like a fit for the job. Research is not the only thing we look at.
  • Telling an interviewer that your answer to every challenge is to give the call to a supervisor does not promote you as a competent individual.

I do not think I'm a harsh interviewer. I do look for specific skills and aptitudes, but I do not rule people out automatically. Today was just a hard day because I spent a lot of time with little results. Two of the applicants are already turn downs. One may be offered the job, but I will have to decide that tomorrow when I review the notes from the interview.

When I interview, I look for a few things. Does the person have experience in banking/sales/customer service/call centers? Does the person know how to use a computer (because our job requires a lot of computer usage)? Can the person learn? Is the person ethical, have integrity, or show signs of maturity? Will the person stay with the company? Would I want this person to be on my team?

The two questions that need a "yes" answer are "Can this person learn?" and "Would I want this person to be on my team?" If I do not feel confident enough that this person could learn the job with help, then the job is not the right fit. If I couldn't see this person fitting in with my team, the chances are they wouldn't fit in with the other teams. All the supervisors are looking for the same type of personalities and I don't want to hire someone for another supervisor if I don't think the person will give the job the respect having a job demands.

Tomorrow is another busy day for me. I have an early meeting (weekly supervisor meeting), a meeting with my boss (weekly), another interview (this one made it through a phone screening), and a full team of bankers. There may be a HR issue to resolve tomorrow with a banker (oh, joy. Can't you feel my excitement?) Steve is also gone and I know I'll be ready for some karaoke after work.