Wed | Sep 23, 2020

Glenford Smith | Career advice for job hunters, not interviewers

Published:Wednesday | October 23, 2019 | 12:00 AM

QUESTION: Thanks for your advice and comments to K. Thompson’s question in The Sunday Gleaner of September 28, 2019. To help interviewers in general, I was thinking maybe you could broaden your advice by suggesting the avoidance of potentially inappropriate, if not illegitimate questions like this one. And you could offer that to interviewers who genuinely want feedback with Human Resources for guidance.

– M. Hales


Thank you for reading the Careers section and for sharing your thoughts and suggestions. Your letter isn’t shared here in its entirety, but I’ll have reasons to refer to more of it down below.

Your feedback is valuable and your reflections on the column well thought out. You’ve said that you hope I take your letter in the spirit in which you’re sending it. That’s very kind of you. And you need to know I am never offended, but always find it a privilege to receive feedback, even if you happen to disagree with me.

The first thing to note is that the Careers column is not written for interviewers, as such. Sure, they may read it and get valuable advice. However, it is focused on advising job hunters and to impart career advice. I understand your idea about “suggesting” that interviewers avoid certain “illegitimate or inappropriate questions”.

But you are forgetting one little fact: interviewers are there to ask difficult and even illegitimate questions. It is all a matter of how the candidate responds. The question about rating your interviewer on a scale of one to 10 is a perfectly legitimate one. An interview is a forum of competition where one individual wins and others lose. That’s how it is.

The person who is able to remain calm throughout the interview and answer the interviewer’s questions cogently, showing that they have the best traits to fit the interviewer’s requirements, wins. It is not for the candidate to be thinking that interviewers are asking illegitimate or inappropriate questions.

Let’s turn now to your other statements, which were not included above.

First: “There is almost no way of knowing if K. Thompson’s answer significantly influenced the ‘decline to hire’ decision”.

I agree. The decision could be as a result of a number of things. This is a very good idea for all jobseekers to get. Sometimes the reason for failing an interview has nothing to do with you, so don’t beat yourself up.

Additionally, you pointed out what you perceived as a contradiction. That’s because you interpreted my comment as saying it was the lack of preparation that was responsible for K. Thompson’s failure.

But, if you were to note one word, “perhaps”, then you and I would be saying the same thing. As I said, “perhaps it’s a lack of preparation that caused you to improvise the answer”. So I allowed that it could be that way. It’s a possibility; but we don’t know. That is why the best thing for K. Thompson to do is to prepare, which you agreed with.

Finally, your analysis is correct, and very thoughtful. Your takeaway from the column is a good one and one I would recommend:

“So what I took away from your advice is to ‘prepare to the max – and do the max preparation’, which will serve well should improvisation be required”.

Glenford Smith is president of CareerBiz Coach and author of ‘From Problems to Power’ and ‘Profile of Excellence’. Email