You Lost Me at Hello

You may be in the interviewer's seat, but keep in mind that you need to make a good first impression, too.
Magazine Contributor
3 min read

This story appears in the February 2009 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

I hate interviewing, so much so that I stayed at my previous dead-end job too long just to avoid the trauma. I hate being judged so intimately--from every word I speak to the outfit I'm wearing. However, through my now-numerous interviewing experiences, I've come to realize that I can just as easily be the judge of my interviewer and what the interview says about the company.

First, there are the seemingly small things. When I come in for an interview and a company doesn't validate my parking, it usually indicates to me that it's not very financially stable. When they don't offer me a drink or bathroom break during a lengthy interview or series of interviews, I get the impression they don't care or provide for their employees. If my interviewer is late to interview me and seems to be looking at my resume for the first time, it's a clue that the company is somewhat hectic and unorganized. And if the interviewer isn't enthused about the company mission or work responsibilities, then how can I be?

A big red flag is if an interview is too easy. This is usually a sign that the company doesn't have a high standard for its employees--that almost anyone walking in off the street could get the job--and that my coworkers wouldn't be able to teach me anything I didn't already know. The extreme example for me was an interviewer who spent most of the time trying to convince me the company was legit, followed by a few questions such as, "What do your parents do for a living?" and "How many brothers and sisters do you have?" At the end of the short interview, I was offered a job on the spot. The level of desperation was obvious.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, brutal interviews also make a bad impression. I've had one too many situations where interviewers seemed out to prove they were smarter than me. They appeared to take pleasure in stumping me with questions that I'm pretty sure I wouldn't need to know to be successful at my job. It's also a big turnoff realizing I would have to work with these competitive egomaniacs.

For my current job, the interviewer asked me a lot of difficult questions, but none that were unfair. While I couldn't answer many of his questions, the manner in which he asked them gave me the impression he wasn't trying to stump me; instead, he was just trying to get an idea of my skill level. I was also convinced that he was very knowledgeable and I could learn a lot by working with him. In the end, this positive interview experience convinced me to accept this job over other competitive offers, and I've been happy with my decision ever since.

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