I know this is too heavy a post for a Friday. But whimsical me writes about whimsical topics at whimsical times :-).
During my job search process, a couple of years ago, I came to know definitely that I was pretty bad at attending interviews. Extreme shyness and lack of confidence is not a good combination when speaking to strangers who don't know you at all and have to get to know you based on what you tell them.
Anyways, I managed to screw up quite frequently - acceptable when I knew I had tried my best but totally painful when I knew I was capable of much better and yet had messed it up.
That was a few years back. Now I sometimes get to be on the other side i.e. be the interviewer. And guess what, I realized that I am equally nervous about being an interviewer too! I guess the word "interview" is enough to start off cold feet, cold hands and butterflies in my stomach :-(.
Anyways, what I realized from being on the other side is this:
1. I couldn't care less if the resume is printed on ivory colored bond paper or has an amazing font or an awesome format. I am only interested in knowing whether the necessary qualifications are present or not. Even if they are well-hidden, I take the time to find it. So the key is having the right words and phrases in the resume and not having the best looking resume. BTW, this does not mean that typos and other shodiness is okay - it is not.
2. When I interview a person, I always start with an open mind. In fact, start positively with the hope that the person will be "the one". As I said, I am not fond of interviewing people and my ideal scenario would be one where I can find someone meeting the requirements with the minimum number of interviews.
3. I don't ask "trap" questions. Usually I ask questions which test how well the person will meet the requirements. The objective is to find reasons to hire the person rather than find reasons to show them the door.
4. Besides the above, I rely heavily upon what was said in the resume. When a resume says "expert in C++" and the person does not know what an abstract class is, I begin to doubt everything else the person has said in the resume too. Lying on the resume gets a person in may be but then gets them out even faster if it is found out.
5. It helps if an interviewee has a good personality. It leaves a good impression and plays a big role in the final decision when there is another candidate with similar qualifications.
6. Appearance - in my job line, formal clothes are not necessary. All I care about appearance is that the person is neatly groomed and dressed and not whether the blazers and black socks are in attendance. Of course, this factor is something that is highly dependant on the position.
7. Most of the times, when someone is rejected, it is not because their personality was bad or their qualifications were awful or they are useless. It is just that their profile does not suit what we are looking for and they probably won't be able to contribute their best to that particular role (I think knowing this for sure would have helped me when I used to take rejections rather personally - stupid, I know).
8. Even when an interviewee is only 60-70% qualified for a position, if s/he shows enthusiasm to learn, it makes a favorable impression. In fact, enthusiasm and passion are qualities which can make up to some extent for technical shortcomings.
I am by no means an interviewing expert (in fact the very opposite, I would say) and interviewing is not even a part of my basic job description (I am a software engineer, in case you are wondering). So I really couldn't say how much of the above applies to other interviewers or interviews. Or maybe all this is blindingly obvious. At any rate, hopefully it will help someone else.
Most importantly, I do think it will do me good to dig up and remember this the next time I have to sit on the interviewee hot seat :-D.
Update: Read the comments section to get some more tips.