Re: Lying applicants

Subject: Re: Lying applicants
From: "Brian, Flaherty" <bflaher -at- INDCON -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 21 Sep 1998 11:30:55 -0400

Leonard Perrello wrote:
Does anyone out there have any idea of why this technique isn't used
frequently? It seems strange to me that most interviewers ask questions
they have no right to ask and which have no clearly provable
relationship to
the positions for which they are hiring (for example, "where do you see
yourself in five years?") but will not give, for example, a simple,
five-minute test on revision. What is up with this?

Very simple: amateur hour interviewing. Such questions ("Where do you
see yourself in N years? What is your plan for the future? Tell me
something about yourself, etc.) are being asked by managers/interviewers
who do not really know what they are looking for and not very skilled at
interviewing. After being on a number of interviews myself over the
term of my career, I'm able to spot the "amateurs" from the good

Most managers do not interview that much. So, their interviewing skills
are not as up to par as budgeting skills, for example. Only recently,
with a good economy and the current skills shortage in the computer
industry, have managers had to interview more people and fill more
positions. Some companies have come to realize this (after realizing
that something must be done about high turnover rates in certain
high-tech jobs, such as technical writing and software development).
Such companies have taken measures to bolster the interviewing skills of
managers and other "hiring decision makers" (in the form of in-house
classes and HR seminars). So, more and more, managers are learning to
ask the questions that count about a candidate's experience and

Of course, HR folks who do the preliminary interview will usually as
these "dead end" questions anyway, since they really do not know what
tech writers (or others that the company is looking for) do anyway.
They usually ask these questions just to see if the candidate has strong
communication skills and how the person deals with other people.

Of course, many managers and other hiring decision makers have a way to
go and need to build their interviewing skills and techniques. If you
are one of them, remember to ask the questions that count, and don't get
side-tracked by "over generalized" questions like "Where do you see
yourself in our company in N years/decades?"

Brian Flaherty
ICS, Paramus, NJ (USA)

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