Chicago Tribune (Sunday)

Show and tell: If you’re the interviewe­r, look and act the part

- — Marco Buscaglia, Careers

Sam Young recently interviewe­d for a position with a large marketing firm he held in high regard. Until the interviews.

“The first guy interviewe­d me while he was on a treadmill, so aside from having to hear the machine running in the background, the guy was sweaty and out of breath. It was awful,” Young says.

The second interview wasn’t much better. “A woman in her car,” he says. “With kids in the backseat. I could barely understand a word she said and I feel like she heard nothing I said.”

Young didn’t get the job so he admits his opinion of his experience might be a little “salty,” he says. “But come on,” he says. “I understand people are busy and have lives but show the job applicant a little respect. It’s just common decency.”

Bob Slater and Nick Slater, co-authors of “Look Out Above! The Young Profession­al’s Guide to Success” (Bulldog Ventures Media, $21.95), offer some advice for those hiring managers doing remote interviews:

• Check out the candidate’s background for clues about them. They know their background is visible. What are they using it to say about themselves? Did they care enough to be thoughtful about that message?

• Do what you would do in a faceto-face interview. Ask an open-ended initial question, follow up without listing qualities that suggest the answer you want to hear from the candidate or reveal what you are looking for in the ideal applicant. You’ll get this informatio­n parroted back to you if you do.

• Listen far more than you talk. For each intriguing job stop along the candidate’s path, seek to identify what the candidate did and accomplish­ed, the name and contact informatio­n for each person they reported to — even if the applicant has to provide this informatio­n after the meeting) — and the specific skills developed and demonstrat­ed.

• Look for — in this order — character, likability and skill fit. You can teach skills; you cannot teach character or likability. Nor can you teach a sense of humor — do you see evidence of one?

Finally, follow the same guidelines you’d expect from the person you’re interviewi­ng. Be mindful of your background, lighting, noise and seating. And while you can dress as you wish, what you wear makes a statement about your company. When you discover a candidate that impresses you, you will be switching from buying to selling mode, so act and look the part.

In other words, maybe set aside the workout gear and put on a shirt and tie. “I can tell you firsthand that right off the bat, as the person being interviewe­d, I felt like a fool sitting in front of my computer wearing a suit when the guy I was interviewi­ng with was wearing a sweaty Boston College T-shirt,” Young says. “Kind of made me feel like I was unimportan­t.”

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