Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Best Interview Feedback I Ever Got

I love the fact that an HR Director shared her complete feedback with me.  I also love that she asks her own people to keep a record of their interviews so that she can do quality control.  I thought I would share this feedback with you.  It was very helpful to me so that I could understand the reasons why a candidate blew the interview.

Not long ago, a candidate interviewed at a company for a social media job.  She was well in to the process and was interviewing with her contemporaries who she would be working with.  She did not do well.  The HR Director, one of the best I work with, was kind enough to give me exact feedback so that I could learn what went wrong. These verbatim comments were helpful to me and I hope you like them as well.  Getting them was rare and wonderful.

I thought I would pass an edited version on to my readers so that they could learn both how to give feedback and how to properly handle an interview.

Here it is:

Question: Tell us about your experience.
She focused on what her companies did instead of what she specifically did.
Feedback Commentary: Consequently, she gave the impression that she maybe doesn’t have a lot of experience to talk about.  
My observation: It isn't always what you say, but what you don't say

Question: Why are you leaving your current company?
Answer:  She is looking for more exciting work; she was disappointed when they lost her previous account and now wants to work on a brand she was passionate about. She does not like her current assignment.
Feedback Commentary: Good answer, but didn’t convey that she is passionate about our business throughout the interview.
My observation: Companies want to know that candidates want them.

Question: Tell us about your social media experience.
Answer: She said that she doesn’t believe in social media experts because it is always changing.
Feedback Commentary: We were not satisfied with this answer given that our client always expects us to step up and be experts. So we followed up with:

Question: What do you bring to our social media team?
Answer: Ideas, humor, strategy
Feedback Commentary: There just wasn’t enough substance to this answer.  She had the opportunity to give us a lot more hard core information about her knowledge, experience and successes.
My observation:  Answer the question asked. And answer the question with specific examples

Question: Tell us about a moment with a difficult client:
Answer: She responded by telling us about her difficult CEO.
Feedback Commentary: Left the impression that she might not have a lot of client interaction.  Not a good response since our clients expect us to be quick on our feet.  And we didn’t ask about her CEO; she didn’t answer the question.
My observation: Not only did she not answer the question, but she blew the opportunity to show how she handled difficult issues and problems.
Question: Name your favorite social media campaign of ours that you have seen.
Answer: She liked our current focus but wondered why we didn’t interact with our audience more.  She asked why we don’t do more of that since social is all about conversation.
Feedback Commentary: She clearly had not seen our most recent postings on Twitter and Facebook, which were all about conversation. During the month that she has been interviewing with us, that is all we have done.  It was almost as if she was trying to make us wrong.
My observation: She had an opportunity to show her interest (she really wanted this job), but she did not prove it by her actions.

I shared a lot of this with the candidate who confessed that she had her mind on other things, had not done her homework and was nervous during the interview.  She also confessed that she was complacent because these were her contemporaries and she thought that this interview was merely a formality.

If you are interviewing, you must always be on your A game.  You can never take an interview for granted and, most importantly, do your homework and answer the questions as asked. 


  1. I thought doing your homework for an interview and making it clear that you very much want the job is just basic. Apparently not!

  2. Fair enough questions from the "interviewer"; obviously terrible answer from the candidate or "interviewee".

    But if one wants to join the agency business or one is responsible for hiring, here are some of my favorite questions to ask today (in no particular order):

    1) Since you didn't study business or marketing in college, what sparked your interest and qualifies you for this position?

    2) What's the difference between Branding and Advertising?

    3) What's the difference between a GRP and a KPI?

    4) Who's your hero or favorite "star" in the agency business right now (or ever)?

    5) Who's the current Chairman or CEO of our agency?

    6) What account do we have here that you'd REALLY like to work on instead of this one, and why?

    7) If we eventually get you on that client account, can you go the distance?

    8) Are you married, single, divorced, or attached? A parent? What are your personal constraints?

    9) Do you have your personal shit together so you can focus on this job?

    10) How do you feel about the questions I've just asked you? What else do you wish I had asked?

    Finally my acid test …

    11) Who is the current U.S. Vice President or U.S. Secretary of State?

    Bill Crandall

    1. Bill,
      Your questions are mostly irrelevant and will give very little actionable information. They are also irrelevant to this post. . And if you ask someone about their marital status, it is illegal.

  3. Bill Crandall, among these many silly (and as Paul writes, irrelevant) questions, do you seriously recommend asking a job applicant, "Do you have your personal shit together...?"

  4. Tks very much for your post.

    Avoid surprises — interviews need preparation. Some questions come up time and time again — usually about you, your experience and the job itself. We've gathered together the most common questions so you can get your preparation off to a flying start.

    You also find all interview questions at link at the end of this post.

    Source: Top 10 interview questions and answers

    Best rgs


I would welcome your comments, suggestions or anything you would like to share with me or my readers.

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