The Technical Interview Failure

Imagine you are in a boring meeting and one of your coworkers suddenly yells, I really don’t care!”

A few years ago, I was interviewed for an hour by three people for a key role on the tech team at a large corporation.

Two of the three interviewers were totally engaged with me: making great eye contact, asking challenging questions, and really diving into my experience to see if I would be a fit for their organization.

But one of the interviewers (to protect his identity, let’s call him Tom), stared at his phone the majority of the time.

As I walked out of the building, I felt really good about my own interview performance, but I didn’t think I would get the job offer. I clearly didn’t engage with all three interviewers and it bothered me.

A week later, they made me a generous offer and I was excited to take on the new challenge. But that one interviewer I didn’t connect with still gnawed at me.

Once I had developed a rapport with Tom, I asked him about the interview. He was shocked and apologized. He hadn’t realized how much time he spent on his phone — he thought it was just a couple of quick checks!

Tom didn’t intend on sending me the message that he was disinterested, didn’t care, or was just plain too busy to deal with getting to know me. But he most certainly did communicate those negative things whether he intended to or not.

It is not just interviews where I see technology people miss this key concept.

We get bogged down in meetings that seem to go on forever and don’t have a clear meaning, so what do we do? Check in on our email, Slack notifications, or other distractions to stay busy. But this is a disservice to your colleagues and it sends them a loud message, I don’t really care.”

So, for better communication and to be more effective, eliminate as many distractions as possible: anything that breaks your focus and gives the impression that you’re not fully engaged in the conversation. Try it, I promise you’ll see a positive difference immediately.

November 18, 2018