Friday, August 7, 2009

When an interview turns into a debate!

An interviewee writes:

“The last interview that I attended turned into a debate. The hiring manager took my interview and asked for my point of view on a particular issue. He wanted to know my approach in resolving it. After I was done with my explanation, he countered it with an alternate way to resolve that particular issue. Discussion around the issue lasted for sometime with both of us sticking to our solution. The interview tone sounded like that of a heated argument. However, he went on with other interview questions. It been a week now and I haven’t heard from this hiring manager or anyone else from the Company. Did that particular discussion have a negative impact on my candidature? I liked the role that I interviewed for and hence was planning to mail the hiring manager asking for feedback. Would that be ok? Or should I mail the recruiter who scheduled the interview?”

From the look of it, yes, I think that particular discussion might have had a significant impact on deciding your candidature. Your description of the interview seemed to fit that of a stress-interview mode. I personally don’t like it, but many managers choose to take that route for interviews. That’s an indicator of their respective working styles as well. Typically he was trying to check on your stress absorption levels and receptiveness to suggestions from others. You may have had a great solution and hence stuck your neck out with it. But that doesn’t mean you don’t acknowledge the other person’s reasoning. I’ll assume you didn’t acknowledge his ideas and hence he was using questions that really provoked you to retort. Maybe, I’m wrong. But when an interview gets out of hand, you need to take control of yourself and not try controlling the interview.

As a hiring manager he is the one calling the shots. So as a candidate you have a couple of choices: (a) you agree with him although you have a better solution. (That sucks!) because you are saying things that will get you a job, which you might end up not liking; or (b) acknowledge his ideas/solutions and then present your idea with pros & cons. This will give you a chance to gauge the hiring manager’s receptiveness too. Right?

You mention the word ‘debate’ in your question and that’s exactly what an interview shouldn’t be. If it reaches a heated argument, then you are out of the door before you know it. Yes, it’s ok to disagree with an interviewer. But your stand depends on how you choose to communicate your disagreement. If you happen to choose the argumentative approach. Bad! Interview’s done and you are not 'in'.

Can you mail the hiring manager for asking for a feedback? Off course, you can. He should have closed loop with you by now! I’m not sure if you’ll get to hear anything positive from him now. If you do, good luck with the next rounds. The recruiter may not have a say in this matter and so he wouldn’t be able to help you out.

Everything’s not lost. You have a lot to take-away from this interview.

Good luck with your job search!