Dealing with an interviewer who won’t shut up – blah blah blah!

You are really in big trouble if you come across a job interviewer who just keeps talking.

What the interviewer really should be doing instead was asking questions, then listening to what you have to say about yourself and your work experience. You came for a job interview not to listen to a marketing presentation.

Technically speaking, we say such a person has got logorrhea, an actual illness and pathological inability to stop talking. Sometimes, and less serious, you see a word like loquacious, for people who talk a lot and often about stuff they think we should all know.

What do you think causes excessive speech in a job interview situation? No, it’s not logorrhea nor loquaciousness.

Let me tell you, in 9 out of 10 times, it simply comes down to inexperience of the job interviewer. It’s the kind of interviewer who thinks interviewing is just talking to people, who will ask old fashioned and silly questions like: “what’s your strength and weakness?” “Why do you want to leave your current employment?” “Can you sell?” (assuming the job is in sales).

It’s the kind of inexperienced interviewer who is convinced that a gut feeling is all it takes to determine if a candidate is qualified or not. I kid you not!

An inexperienced interviewer believes he or she should talk 80% of the time and you only 20%. In fact, it’s of course the exact opposite. I mean, you came for a job interview not to listen to a company and personal presentation.

My mentor in teaching me to understand cross-cultural management in a Thai context, for which we go back almost 25 years, was Dr Henry Holmes who was a long-time resident of the Kingdom, a Harvard University graduate and author of several books on working and leading multi-cultural teams in Thailand.

Henry’s favourite advice was: “be a good listener”. According to Henry, one gets more out of listening than speaking. The art of listening is to pose questions that get the candidate or applicant talking and providing the insights that one seeks.

Interviewing is a highly complicated multi-tasking activity

Don’t let anyone convince you that interviewing is just about talking. That is so far from the truth. Interviewing is one of the most complicated skill-sets of multi-tasking and takes practice for years to really master.

  • Ask your interview questions by using the written questions you prepared beforehand. Key words here: written, prepared, beforehand!
  • Take notes; write down the key points of the candidate’s answers.
  • Meanwhile, as you are still writing, concentrate and listen carefully to the answers to assess if the answer makes sense. Did the candidate actually answer the question? Decide what follow-up question you want to ask in order to further probe and uncover more needed information.
  • Observe eye movement and body language. Look for eyes looking up, for eyes flickering from side-to-side, for arms crossed.
  • Whilst listening, whilst writing, whilst thinking of the follow-up questions, whilst observing body language; whilst looking at the clock for time management, look for the next relevant question on your list.
  • And then it starts all over again and continues in that manner for up to two hours. That’s what professional headhunters do, day in and day out; for years and years.

If you are the interviewer and talk too much?

Stop trusting your gut and take the interview process seriously; follow a plan; prepare your interview agenda and stick to it; have written questions to ensure you remember to get all the important points covered.

Showing up at the interview with only the candidate’s resume is the road to hell. To give yourself a fair chance of assessing the experience and skills of the candidate, prepare at least 20 questions that are linked directly to the required competencies.

Sticking to these questions, though in any order as you gain more experience, will also ensure that you ask all the candidates for the particular position the very same questions and thereby gain a better chance to compare.

The four step job interview agenda

The best-in-class recruiters and HR departments will email the candidate with tips on how to prepare for the interview; whether it’s the interview with the recruitment company or the corporate talent acquisition.

The email should confirm the date and time, the place of the interview, who to ask for at the reception, who will be the interviewer and finally also a telephone number to call in case of unexpected delay on the way to the interview.

Inform the candidate that it’s not a competition about who has the best memory; suggest to the candidate to bring their resume, a pen and paper for note taking, but also other supporting documents (which could be examples of performance, candidate’s own questions etc). You may even recommend how to dress for the interview.

The four step interview agenda:

  1. Welcome and an introduction of your company. Not details of the job yet.
  2. Question the candidate’s background and expertise. That is the heart of the interview.
  3. Introducing the job description, the department, expectations.
  4. The next step after this interview; when will an update be given.

As a candidate, how do you deal with an interviewer who talks too much?

I started interviewing candidates 35 years ago for the company I worked for in Jakarta at the time. For the last 15 years, I have made a living as a headhunter, helping clients find and assessing candidates for management positions in Thailand. Here’s what I’ve learned.

I am still flabbergasted, when I hear the horror stories from candidates who talk about their job interview experiences. Many decided to turn down offers from such companies because of the unprofessional and amateurish interview processes they experienced.

It’s a nightmare and a challenge. Your first warning is when an interviewer comes into the room with nothing but your resume. Even if that much. If the interviewer did not bring pen and paper to note your answers or if the interviewer clearly does not use prepared questions, it spells trouble ahead.

If you haven’t lost the motivation already, if you still want to give the company a chance, if you like to give them the benefit of the doubt, you need to take charge and be very assertive.

You need to politely interrupt the interviewer. Say something like: “Sorry, I like to interrupt. I have something important that I would really like to tell you. It’s a great example of what I have done in a previous job.” Then go on and talk about your experiences, perhaps present some documents that support your point. And be prepared to interrupt again and again.

Get your staff pipeline ready for the war for talent

If you find it increasingly difficult to find new staff,  as you seek to grow your business or simply replace some who left you, sorry to say but you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Why is this fact not keeping all business executives up at night? Most have their heads buried in the sand and are seemingly unaware or ignoring the challenges that lie ahead. Continue reading “Get your staff pipeline ready for the war for talent”

Looking To Change Career? Avoid These Job Switch Killers

Did you ever think to yourself… “Been in my industry what seems a life time, too many years in my current position, I’ve been there, I’ve done that?”

Or have you suddenly and unexpectedly found yourself between jobs? Perhaps fired, cut from the payroll but still a family to take care of? Or at best, you called it quits yourself?

Welcome to the Club either way. The question is, how do you avoid being a permanent member of this Club of Wannabes?  When I look back at 15 years of headhunting candidates for management positions in Thailand, I have learned the following: Continue reading “Looking To Change Career? Avoid These Job Switch Killers”

Naively, hiring companies think recruiters work harder when in competition on a job search

Totally not true that recruitment firms work harder if competing with another recruitment company.  Let me explain.

Most recruitment firms in Thailand compete on price and not on service or the quality of candidates. A “contingency” recruitment firm will only be able to invoice their client if their candidate is hired. Only then will the recruitment firm receive an income and the recruitment consultant a commission. Continue reading “Naively, hiring companies think recruiters work harder when in competition on a job search”

How you should dress for the job interview?

If you are old enough, you may recall the shampoo commercial, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression”.

You must have heard the saying that a first impression can make or break a business opportunity or relationship. That includes anything from meeting customers, pitching your business to new clients, to dating for a romantic partner, and of course very much to job interviewing. Continue reading “How you should dress for the job interview?”

Do you have a non-compete clause in your employment agreement?

Are you one of the many employees in Thailand who willingly accepted a non-compete clause in your employment agreement? Or perhaps you were forced to accept a  non-compete as a condition for getting the new job?

In more and more countries around the world, the non-compete clause is illegal or it comes with a lot of restrictions. But unfortunately not yet in Thailand where employers can still demand that an employee cannot take work with a competitor for years. Continue reading “Do you have a non-compete clause in your employment agreement?”

Your CV is too long

Your CV is a personal Career Balance Sheet; like the Balance Sheet or Income Statement used in Accounting. The CV lists absolutely everything you have done since kindergarten, primary school, the first job to the current; it can include dates, periods, all training activities or articles, publications. You name it. It can stand the toughest of audits. Continue reading “Your CV is too long”

Talent Acquisition – Stop damaging your company’s reputation!

You have heard me talk about this before; the appalling service level to keep applicants and candidates updated on their interview process.

I met an executive the other day who was interviewed two months ago by a hiring company. So far, he has not received a follow up call or email, no thank you for considering a job with our company, nothing to say the job has been offered to another candidate (I’m just guessing because who knows?).

“Treat others how you want to be treated.” Continue reading “Talent Acquisition – Stop damaging your company’s reputation!”

Who are the leading executive search firms according to Forbes?

Who does not love lists and rankings;, think: Thailand’s 50 Richest List to the Best Countries for Business to the Top Weirdest Most Promising New Jobs.

Forbes ranked 250 recruitment and executive search firms in 2017, the first ever such list. Boyden was in the Top 10.

In their new ranking for 2018, yes, Boyden is still there in the Top 10. Other great firms in the Top 10 include Korn Ferry, Egon Zehnder, Heidrick & Struggles, and Spencer Stuart. Continue reading “Who are the leading executive search firms according to Forbes?”

Lack of feedback to candidates by today’s HR and recruitment professionals is quite appalling

If you want to know why recruiters in corporate Talent Acquisition departments and recruitment firms are considered in the same undesirable league as unscrupulous real estate agents and sleazy second-hand car salespeople, be ready for a blunt wake-up call.

Candidates complain to me that way too many HR people, Talent Acquisition departments, and Recruitment firms do not keep them updated on the hiring process. I just came out of an interview with a senior manager who took a day off to meet the multi-national industry leader about a big job; this meeting took place two months ago. Since then, no email nor phone call, no feedback or update what so ever. Continue reading “Lack of feedback to candidates by today’s HR and recruitment professionals is quite appalling”

Perfect Hires Don’t Exist

My old boss told me: “If you hang around the night club until past midnight, waiting and waiting for that spectacular love-at-first-sight individual who would sweep you off your feet, you would most likely end up going home alone “.

In any hire, you must find a good balance, and make a trade-off if necessary, between three things; they are: Continue reading “Perfect Hires Don’t Exist”

How you can compete with robots in the future job market

Any chance you have been to New York the last 12 months? Perhaps visiting McDonald on the corner of Third Avenue and 58th Street to get yourself a cheese burger?

So this is how it works at that particular McDonald restaurant; you go to a touch screen kiosk, click the food and beverage you want. You use your mobile phone to pay… then pick up your hamburger that has been grilled to perfection by a McRobot.

I was recently the key-note speaker at an event for the Young Professionals of the German-Thai Chamber of Commerce. I was talking about how the YP’s could possibly compete with the robots in the future job market.

What does McKinsey and World Economic Forum say Continue reading “How you can compete with robots in the future job market”

How a wrong handshake will eliminate you as a candidate

Perhaps the most important thing you must get right, to leave a good first impression, is to get your greetings right. Whether you are a candidate coming for an interview or a sales manager trying to impress a prospect customer.

But which one I may ask? It could be a wai if you are Thai, a bow if you are Japanese, la bise (cheek kiss) to good friends if you are French, or a firm handshake if you are American.

Screw it up and not getting your handshake, wai or bow correct, spells trouble ahead.

Handshake, wai or both? Continue reading “How a wrong handshake will eliminate you as a candidate”

Once upon a time, Tom was an ordinary candidate

Once upon a time, Tom Sorensen, was an ordinary candidate who experienced almost every job search faux pas in the book. Today, he’s an accomplished search consultant with over 35 years’ experience and recognized as one of Thailand’s top recruiters.

If you’re looking for real advice from someone who’s been on both sides of the table, then look no further and visit the links below! Continue reading “Once upon a time, Tom was an ordinary candidate”

How Valentine would select his HR Director

Last night over a nice Valentine’s Day dinner, I asked myself if he had an HR Director? I mean he as in Saint Valentine.

Well, I don’t think so. But since we were celebrating Valentine’s Day, what an opportune time to wonder what if? Valentine’s Day is associated with romantic love and has evolved into a time where lovers express their love for each other by presenting flowers, greeting cards and confectionery. Continue reading “How Valentine would select his HR Director”