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10 Interview Styles That Make My Blood Run Cold


This post is about candidate interview styles that make it hard to hire someone.

candidate interview styles, blood run cold, cover letter templates, mock interviews, human interest, job search, job interview, interview questions, cover letters, interviews, recruitment, interviewing, interview, style, styles, employment, avoid

I don’t do as much interviewing in my current job as I used to do earlier in my

career.  And I haven’t interviewed 10,000 people.  So bust my credibility for that if you have to . . .

But I have interviewed enough of you to see a few candidate interview styles pop up more than a few times.  And I have to tell you that I’ve been scared.

Scared to the point that my blood runs cold.  Like I’ve seen a ghost.  And felt the shiver of a thousand ice cubes running down the center of my spine.

Yes, I am talking about you.  I’ve met you.

I wrote a similar post about cover letter writers a while back that was a lot of fun.  It was called The Cover Letter Segmentation Study.

Yes, there are a lot of bad cover letters out there.  And I am working on revising and improving a cover letter template that I have often used so you can use it.  Especially after a lot of you really liked the professional resume template that I shared a few weeks ago.

The truth is that you have to interview a lot of people.  Kiss a lot of frogs.  Before you find someone that is qualified, at the right point in their career and is a good fit for the job.  But for someone to deliver on those three, they have to have an interview style that allows the hiring company to visualize them in the job.  Hanging out with them.  And making great things happen.  That’s why candidate interview styles are so important.

But don’t get too comfortable if you are a hiring manager, because hiring managers are vulnerable as well based on the job interview styles you’ll face as a candidate.

But, back to candidate interview styles, I felt compelled after scouring my own hiring memory.  To share with you the candidate interview styles to avoid.  And if this is you, I’m sorry.  But it’s time to change.  Lest my blood run cold yet again.

Candidate Interview Styles: Smug

Hard to imagine that Smug can be found in this economy but he/she can.  It is either seen when someone believes they are overly or uniquely qualified for a job, is trading down in company size or has just left an important company.  In the last case, they hold on to the perceived stature they once had and projects it onto their new potential boss.  Not good.

Candidate Interview Styles: Perky

If you are too “up” and the interviewer is not, one of two things will happen.  Either you will make them feel “up” or you will make them wonder why you are so “up”.  Probably the latter.  Don’t get me wrong though, I like an upbeat, positive and can-do job interview style.  But if it is over-played, it can back-fire.  Especially if it is not the real you (see Actor, below).  It depends on the function you play too.  In some cases, perky will be just fine (see Disneyland Resort’s Peter Pan character bio).  In others, you won’t be taken seriously.  Even if you are you being you.

Candidate Interview Styles: Slug

This one blows me away.  The opposite of Perky, this person does not move a muscle.  And I’ve been tempted in the past to stop the interview and start a therapy session.  Because you absolutely have to show outward signs of being interested.  And energetic.  If you feel this might be you, please get some help.  A career coach, a former boss or a good friend.  Someone who can put you through a mock interview and provide you with some perspective.  You can call me!

Candidate Interview Styles: Needy

I meet with a lot of job seekers and I understand how hard it has been on everyone and their families.  I get that.  But that cannot come across in an interview.  You cannot say:  “I really need this job”.  But people do.  And it says desperation.  Even if you are feeling that, do everything you can to walk into an interview with confidence.  Critical.

Candidate Interview Styles: Actor

You really do need to be yourself in a job interview.  If you got the job interview despite a resume that doesn’t exactly qualify you, be careful that you don’t continue the charade in person. Or if you aren’t a creative, don’t pretend that you are. Finally, if you tend to be more of an independent worker, don’t say “yes, absolutely” when asked if you love to lead cross-functional teams. You will be found out. Later in the process or a few weeks into the job. Not fun.

Candidate Interview Styles: Funny

Everyone seems to know that cracking jokes is not real smart during an interview.  With few exceptions, it just doesn’t work.  And the room isn’t ready for it anyway.  But some try to lighten the mood with other ways of being funny.  Again, doesn’t work.  What can work and be even more interesting is to highlight your creativity, ingenuity and innovative ideas.  I like that very much.

Candidate Interview Styles: Cozy

Sure, take off your coat.  Lean back.  Rest your arm on the seat back of your chair.  But be careful.  While I want you comfortable and relaxed so I can see the real you, I don’t want you too cozy.  It suggests things.  Most not intended.  But interviewers are highly open to cues when across the desk.  Watching for everything.  Often because they don’t really know what to ask (yes, it’s true) and how to interpret what you’ve said against their internal criteria.  Sad but true.

Candidate Interview Styles: Chatty

Some like to meander during the answer to an interview question.  Some just start off talking and can’t stop.  Hey we all get nervous.  And those first 5 minutes are really an important time to establish yourself in the interview.  Chatty often leads to irrelevant information exchange and time wasting.  Whether you have 30 minutes or an hour, the minutes matter.  Cadence matters.  As well as getting into a good pattern.

Candidate Interview Styles: Asker

I love good questions.  A few early are fine.  A follow-up here and there.  And a few at the end to learn more about the company.  After all, good job interviews are two-way.  A structured conversation.  But too many questions can get really annoying.  Especially in the first interview.  If you are going to ask them, make sure they are relevant to the job and department.  Not just a bunch of random inquiries to “show your interest” in the job.

Candidate Interview Styles: Serious

Ever interview someone who never smiles?  Interviews as if the world will be on their shoulders as soon as they are hired?  The truth is most jobs aren’t important enough to come in with this attitude.  It suggests self-importance or over-preparedness.  They forgot the last step prior to stepping in the interview room.  To relax and be yourself.  I’m not looking for big smiles for an hour.  But let’s keep things in perspective.

So, which job interview styles do you use?  Or which one have you been in past job interviews?  The truth is I think we have all leaned in to one of these styles depending on our situation.  Whether a job seeker or hiring company market.  And depending on where we are in our careers.

Especially today with so many folks out there looking. But even in the future (yes, there will be a future) when companies will be incentives for you to come.

No one wants to hire someone that makes them shiver.  Or scream in the night.

What job interview styles have you seen?  What are some good ones that you’d suggest people follow?

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Written by: Tim Tyrell-Smith
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Categories: Job Interview Tips

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