By: Dan Miller


We are seeing an increasing creativity in interviewing today – on both sides. Many interviewers have a favorite question: “Why are manhole covers round? How many barbers are there in Chicago? If you could be an animal, what would it be?” Some interviewers are big on non-verbal clues as we are told that 55% of communication is non-verbal. J.C. Penney was infamous for taking potential hires out to breakfast. If that person put salt and pepper on their food before tasting it, the interview was over. Mr. Penney believed that this was a person who made decisions before they had all the evidence.

Jeff O’Dell of August Technology often asks candidates out to lunch – and suggests that they drive. “How organized someone’s car is is an amazing indicator of how organized the rest of their life is,” he says. O’Dell believes that the best job candidates not only will have clean cars – “no Slim-Fast cans or tennis balls rolling around in the backseat” – but will also excel at the casual conversation in a restaurant. “It’s a way to learn the personal side of things – whether or not they have a family, do they smoke, etc.” – that doesn’t come out in the formal interview.

Dave Hall doesn’t mind making candidates a little more nervous than they already are. Hall, a principal at Search Connection, likes to place want ads that list his company’s name but not its phone number; he wants only candidates who’ll bother to look the number up. When he’s not entirely sure about candidates after their interviews, he instructs them to call him to follow up – and then doesn’t return their first three calls. He says he’s looking for employees who’ll persist through a million no-thank-yous in making recruiting calls.

What are you doing in the critical first 3-5 minutes of an interview? It’s there that the interviewer is asking, “Do I like this person? Is this person fun to be around? Do I trust this person? Will this person fit in as part of our team?” Although it may be camouflaged, this is where the focus lies more than, “Does this person have an MBA in marketing?”

For dress, appearance, etiquette, the importance of a smile and other body language tips: see pgs. 62-65 of “48 Days To The Work You Love.”


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