X is for Xanthippe

 X is for Xanthippe, an ill-tempered woman.  We all have our days!  I had two phone interviews recently that made me feel ill-tempered afterwards, for different reasons. 

For the first, the interviewer had changed the time of the interview three times already, and was 10 minutes late.  She seemed taken aback that I’d been able to figure out her phone number through the website and company directory and left her a voicemail.  Not the greatest start.

Then, she started in with the lame “so tell me about yourself” question.  To which I gave a few quick chronological highlights of my experience that I thought were most relevant to the position.  Then I stopped, and asked her what she was most interested in learning about before I continued in any detail.  Silence on the other end – maybe she wasn’t expecting this?  She asked basically the same question again, to which I gave her a couple more bullets, and then asked her what skills were most important in the position.  She didn’t have much of an answer to that, either — to me, “looking for a well-rounded marketing person” is code for “gosh, I really have no clue.”

She did ask a couple of perfunctory questions about skills, but didn’t seem to have much information about position details.  She said she wasn’t able to disclose the name of the hiring manager (maybe since she suspected I’d try to make an end-run around her and find out some information on my own?)  I’ve found most competent HR interviewers will answer that question if asked directly.  She seemed positively affronted when I asked her how well she thought my skills and experience matched up with the job and answered something to the effect that that was something she’d decide.

Sigh.  I tried to be as pleasant as possible, and stroked her ego at the end saying how busy she must be.  I’m wondering if she’ll deliver my resume to the hiring manager with big red X’s on it, or perhaps never deliver it at all?  I haven’t figured out an internal contact at this firm yet, so I can’t get it there myself.

Honestly.  Can’t this company find HR people who know how to conduct an interview? 

I had the opposite experience on another phone interview with a different firm.  I had not been about to track down the interviewer on LinkedIn, but assumed it was an HR person, since it was the first contact I’d had with the firm.  I was blown away with the interviewer’s in-depth knowledge of the job required, the relevance of the questions, her general ability to cut to the chase while still being very pleasant, and so on.  I thought we had a great discussion. 

When I asked who the position reported to, she told me it was her.  Big oops! I should have been able to figure that out by her knowledge, and a side reference she’d made to her educational background which didn’t match what a typical HR screener might have.  Not sure if my failure to adequately research or read this situation will work against me or not.   The position sounds like a decent fit, and I’m already impressed by my potential boss.  Unfortunately, it’s likely to be a long wait, as she told me that it would take a couple of weeks to interview candidates.   I do wonder why she doesn’t have HR screeners to help her out, unless her company’s HR interviewers aren’t very helpful, either?

It’s enough to make me feel very ill-tempered!

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