Dec 172010

Or tips for hiring, if you are on the interviewer side of the desk.

Somewhere beneath the layers of dates and facts that a resume contains there is a stratum of personal insight provided by the guy who wrote it. Sometimes it’s in the cover letter, sometime it’s in the resume. Whichever, they often reveal more than they were intended to.   Interviews are an even better source.

The subtext of resumes and interviews gets  pretty complicated, but there are a few basic slip ups that continue to knock me off my chair, even though I’ve seen them hundreds of times.

I just received :  “ Let me assure you that you can not go wrong with an individual like myself.  “

Well, ummhhh, no. First of all, if chef tells me  I can’t go wrong, I can be 100% positive that if I hire him, something will  go very wrong, and I’ll be licking wounds.  Why, furthermore, would I accept the assurance of a person I have never met? He thinks I’m stupid? One click and he’s in the electronic round file.

How do I know this means trouble? Mileage.  And then there’s the issue of the man’s absolute certainty (if he is certain – I suspect he’s just posturing) that he is the right hire for any job I have, since he doesn’t know anything about them.  Nobody is.

Yesterday’s jewell: “I suspect you’ll find very few candidates with a background such as mine and it’s one I’d like to put to work on your behalf;” it smacks of arrogance and mind boggling naivety and lack of understanding of the number of qualified people who pass any one spot on the planet over even a short period of time.  It also reminds me of the classic retort of “Thank the powers” to the jingle, “There’s no other cheese like Velveta.”

This woman is just downright insulting. What she claims  implies that I don’t get around much to see any candidates as good as she thinks herself to be. – thanks Sister.  Translate her self assurance, however, and you come to  this: “I am more special than anyone else you have spoken to or will ever speak to,” which boils down to a nifty piece of the much touted narcissism epidemic.  I don’t think I’d want to work with the her. Would you?

Here’s where these two collide: They are silly enough to believe that I (or you or your uncle Joe) is hair brained enough to take them at their word, and none of us are that, are we?  We recognize clumsy manipulation, or we at least sense it.

Did I mention interviews? Yes, I did. In interviews you see more of this assumed bonding and maladroit manipulation: Someone you have never met thinks that they have the mystical power of making you believe everything they say,  just because they say it. With five minutes of introductory pleasantries you are suddenly in their power. “Let me tell you the truth,” says the management candidate, fixing you with a pupil through cornea stare, “I left the restaurant because (fill in the blank)” If you for one minute don’t  think the person in front of you is lying through his or her teeth, let someone else do the interviewing. As soon as someone says, “Shall I tell you the truth,”, as if they are letting you in on a secret, I wonder how many sociopaths the planet can handle, as this is yet another person who’s apparent default mode is lying.

The young woman fixes me with a self assured and disturbingly come hither optical lock,  resting her chin imposingly on her hand and purrs, “I like to turn no’s into yes’s”, when I explain to ther that she does not have the qualities I seek. At this point I would like to turn her into a toad, but  instead I diplomatically end the interview. I hardly ever kick anyone out of the office any more.

I love interviewing people. I meet great individuals who sometimes turn into friends. I see those I admire. I find young chefs scared to death and somewhere in the process our minds meet and we start doing business together. I despise the part, however, whether in an interview or from a resume, where a candidate or applicant starts trying to manipulate me.  It’s bad practice to tell strangers what to think. “Trust me”, “take my word for it” don’t work in print or in interviews.  If you are applying for something, take that to heart. If you are hiring, you probably already do.