Why HR’s Interview is a Joke!

Interviewing with HR can seem tedious and mundane, but you need to understand "why" in order to conquer it. Learn what's happening to the HR interview.

While almost all of my articles that I write are geared towards job seekers, this one will be more for HR professionals, but still informative for you job seekers! This will be a long article and I consider it more of an op-ed than anything else. I truly hope you will take the time to read it and leave your thoughts and opinions!

Just about everybody out there who’s not in HR, hates HR. Why? Because they’re the police of the company; they enforce all the rules on the book. Nobody likes to complete all the paperwork that HR forces every year and nobody truly understands what HR even does.

So, what does this have to do with HR’s interview?

We need to understand and agree to what people think of HR; right or wrong. People believe that HR is the gatekeeper to the company, yet they usually know nothing about the company. You ask them a technical question or anything inquisitive about the position and they will refer you to the hiring manager. They are the ones that will interview you first and set the overall tone. Disclaimer: I know I am generalizing here and I also know there are a lot of GOOD HR departments out there, but for every good one, there are 10 other bad ones out there.

Let’s dive in:
  • HR doesn’t even know the jobs they are recruiting for:
    We all know that in order to get a job, you must go through HR. (side thought – Yes, you can bypass HR with great networking, but one way or another, it always comes back around to HR). The problem is that HR folk are trained to do HR things, not IT, Finance, Marketing, Accounting, Tax, Sales and the list goes on. HOWEVER, in the infinite wisdom of the powers that be, they relinquish that control to people who have no clue what the right qualifiers are; simply put, they just know keywords. For example, tell a recruiter to find a .net developer and they will search for the keyword “.net”, but if they really knew the position, they would understand that keywords such as C#, ADO, ASP and VB are all words that would qualify them.

    Why do hiring managers do this? Well, that’s the way its always been. HR has the power to do recruiting and they will not let go. In addition to that, hiring managers say they do not have the time to do their own recruiting. So do we just accept the norm then? Is there not a solution?

    Thoughts to job seekers: You know that going into an interview, HR will not understand your background. It is your job to show them how your background translates to their company and how you can add value day 1 and you have do all of that without using your technical jargon.

    Thoughts to HR: We (I say we because I was in HR) should be better than this. When I was a corporate recruiter, I studied each position thoroughly in addition to speaking to the hiring manager. I knew those words above because I studied .net when I recruited for it. The same went for every other position I recruited for. If it was marketing, then I would read up on the differences between SEO and SEM and why they were important to my company.

    HR recruiters are the first people job seekers will hear and see from your company. They will set the baseline for EVERYTHING that the job seeker will think about in regards to your company. Are you really trusting it to someone who is clueless about the positions they are recruiting for?

    We should expect more than that! We should demand more than that. This is reason #1 why the HR interview is a joke. Until they step up their game and begin to truly understand the position they are recruiting for and what its importance is to the company, nothing will change!!!

  • HR doesn’t talk to the hiring manager:Forget about my first example, if the HR professional is not even speaking to the hiring manager than there is no way they will be researching the position. The hiring manager is the only person who knows what it will take to be successful in their role. They know what to look for, how to find them and how to qualify them. Sadly though, HR rarely reaches out to the hiring managers and has an in-depth conversation about the hiring of their future employee(s). Typically, they go to their meeting, armed with a bogus checklist (because that’s all HR can do…is make checklists) and asks the hiring manager simple basic questions. How much do you want to pay? How many years of experience do you want? What are important attributes for you? And etc…

    HR needs to step up their game and really dive into the hiring manager’s world. They need to interview them like they would a job seeker. Not only that, they need to understand all the tech that they use, observe and interview the team to understand the culture, know the future of the position and so much more. This barely is the tip of the iceberg, but if HR is to take interviewing seriously, they can start with doing the aforementioned activities.

  • HR focuses on the wrong areas when interviewing:The new HR trend has been focusing on behavioral questions coupled with tricky questions. Examples would be, “Tell me a time when you didn’t agree with your boss and how you were able to convince them of your way” and “How many jellybeans fit in a car?”. Now, I am not opposed to asking those questions. I believe they help the HR professional learn a lot about the candidate and help them determine how the individual will perform on the job.

    With that being said, while those types of questions should continue and be expanded on and improved, HR is missing one massive key element to interviewing and that is culture. HR focuses so much on, “Are you the right fit for the job?” when they should be asking, “Are you the right fit for the job/team/department/company?” HR is supposed to be the flag bearer for culture; the culture ambassadors, yet, they rarely interview for culture! So, under that premise, their logic is to improve and change the culture of a company with the people who currently work there and hire the same kind of people and try and change them to the culture they want. Hmmmm, seems backwards, no?

    HR needs to enhance and improve their interviewing strategies to include looking for the job seekers intrinsic qualities. These include introverted/extroverted, rule consciousness, leadership, apprehension, emotional intelligence, etc and etc! Understanding attributes such as these will help HR departments to evolve their level of interviewing, thus begin to enhance their culture.

Now, I must say, while I feel much better that I got my HR bashing out, there are a lot of great companies out there revolutionizing the way we think about HR. The most obvious one that comes to mind is Zappo’s; everyone knows about them and if you don’t… uh oh. There is another company though that you probably never heard of that is changing the way we deal with interviewing, hiring and HR as a whole and that is Quirky. I would highly encourage you to check out their website and view their culture.

At the end of the day, there is no right way to run an HR organization. Every company is unique and HR needs to cater to that. It takes years, possibly decades, to change a company culture, but just because it’s long doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.

If you would like to talk more about this topic, how to change/enhance your corporate recruiting or interviewing strategies in general, feel free to reach out to me! Let’s do some interview coaching together! 



Contact With Us

Follow Us On