Q: I recently attended an interview which I though was going well, until I realised that the panel was just wasting my time. During my session, one member stepped out of the interview to take a phone call, and two of his colleagues were constantly chatting on their phones as I was making my submissions. Only one person seemed keen on the process. How should one handle such a situation?
This is regrettable. Interviewers are expected to be professional at all times, portray a good image to potential employees, and respect all candidates. There’s a chairperson in every interview panel whose responsibility is to ensure that all members exhibit professionalism and stay attentive, and also to check that the interviews don’t stretch beyond the stipulated time.
In your case, it is clear that the leader failed to establish order, and he should take responsibility for that unfortunate scenario. For this, be assured that the interviewers’ poor conduct was not your fault. You were invited for an interview, you prepared for it and showed up, so you deserved better treatment.
Should you ever find yourself in a similar situation, you could try the following tips. Keep engaging the interviewers who are attentive. Since your role there is to answer questions, do that to your best of ability, as long as there is someone who is engaged in the conversation.
If someone walks out of the room or receives a phone call as you are speaking, politely ask them if you should wait for him to end the call. That way, you will be making them aware that there is an anomaly that needs to be addressed.
You could also ask if you need to step out for a minute and return when they are ready for you. This may jolt them to pay more attention. If they don’t, try making direct eye contact with the distracted member and address them firmly but politely.
Lack of professionalism during such an important process is no doubt an elaborate indication of deeper cultural issues within the company. Such a disrespectful panel just shows you how employees are treated in that company.
Perhaps the panel already had a preferred candidate, and were just conducting the interview for compliance purposes. Since you have been invited on merit, the recruiters should make every effort to accord you a proper interview.
Additionally, you may need to ask yourself if such an employer deserves your services. Remember that the worst career move you can make is to leave a good employer for a bad one.
Mwikali Muthiani - Managing Partner, MillennialHR (@MwikaliN; [email protected])