Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Curriculum Vitae

Honesty at interview is always the best policy arse
I’m currently involved in the recruitment process for a technician in our laboratory. I was mightily surprised to see over a 100 applicants, all graduates. On initial assessment I would guess about two thirds of the applications are ‘sensible’ and relevant. The rest get binned mighty quick. Clearly applicants from Southern India and China have no chance of serious consideration, especially as the law requires Kiwi candidates to receive preferential treatment.
As for the rest…..Generally we’ll interview about eight candidates out of the residual 70 or so.
So how to choose? Candidates actually make it remarkably easy to place their CVs in the reject pile. Considering that these folk are graduates they can be remarkably uninventive and lacking in imagination. Many seem to use the same stock phrases which tells me very little about the candidate other than a compulsion for commonplace superlatives. For instance, here is a lamentable selection for perusal and delectation. And anyone utilising phrases as follows deserve to be hit repeatedly over the head with a pointy stick until blood squishes out of their ears:
excellent communication skills
strong work ethic
personable presenter
team player
Change the name at the head of the document but the content remains the same- all very depressing.
Also probably not a good idea to submit a photo of yourself embedded in your CV. I once had a candidate submit a photo of herself in a wedding dress and she wasn't even married.
Once I've pared the CVs down to eight hopefuls, the interview stage can commence. I wont add any sage advice concerning interview technique here. I have already addressed this issue elsewhere.
Of course it can work both ways. Once the selection process has been completed the daunting prospect of the interview looms like a daunting looming thing (steady Flaxen). Not all candidates are nervous during the interview, but many are. And a good interview panel should make allowances for this and hopefully not make the situation more stressful for the candidate. This neatly brings me to my interview anecdote. A few years ago I was part of an interview panel. Before interviewing the candidates we colluded and parcelled out the standard interview questions between the three panel members. My colleague had the innocuous question: "Outline a situation where you had great success at work?'' What could possibly go wrong? On the day of the interview we had a particularly nervous young man struggling to articulate answers to our usual stock questions. My colleague's turn came to shine and utter the question as apportioned. Except it didn't come out exactly as planned: "Outline a situation where you had great sex at work?" After a second of shocked awe, which lasted an eternity, the panel burst out laughing. The poor interviewee looked totally stunned and unfortunately even after our heroic efforts to instil composure, the poor lad was totally destroyed and could barely mumble throughout the rest of the strained interview.
So, as my gentle readers are no doubt aware, I'm a bit of a guru with regard to this sort of thing. Anyway, check out my sage advice to my son on his forthcoming interview. I reckon the job is in the bag- what do you think?   



  1. One problem is that many interviewers might be good at their job but lousy with people and therefore are lousy interviewers, and the HR types can spout management speak but rarely have a bloody clue about anything else. Therefore it's mostly a lottery.

  2. I agree to a certain extent. When looking at suitable candidates I tend to look hard at all information to hand. I've taken on candidates that didn't inerview well because I've seen something that is not manifestly obvious. And yes, as in all things in life, there is an element luck, for good or for ill.