I'm not sure asking how much time we have for an interview is a good idea ["What to Do if Your Job Interviewer is Incompetent," usnews.com]. It puts the interviewer on the defensive; it forces her to tip her hand. The interviewer is no longer able to cut the interview short if the interviewee clearly is not the right fit. Worse, it is an almost obvious grab for control of the interview. Everything else though is right on. The interviewee can, and should, direct the interview, at least in part. This is especially true if the interviewer is incompetent, but should be true even if the interviewer is stellar. There are two reasons for this. First, at an interview, there are two interviews going on; the company is interviewing the candidate, and the candidate is interviewing the company. Second, at an interview, we are in "marketing mode." As any good marketer would do, we need to be the ones in charge of telling our story.
Comment by Bill G. of WI
I have run into this problem before. When the interviewer noticed I was taking over, he just sat his pen down and let me run with it. I got the job. He said he was impressed with my aggressive nature to run things. I was also promoted to a managerial position almost immediately.
Comment by John Lee of LA
The interviewee should not ask how much time you have. That may be interpreted as you have other plans or something more important to do other than your interview. Not a good impression! On the flip side, when I contact a potential employee to set up an interview, I make it a habit of letting them know that they should plan to spend "x amount of time" with us. As for the rest of the article...right on! There are lots of ways to turn off the interviewer!
Comment by Val of CT
Maybe an incompetent interviewer wouldn't notice that the job seeker was running the meeting, but I would, and I'd find it extremely off-putting. It would be easy for that person to appear overly eager, which I've found to be the kiss of death when interviewing prospective employees. But if the person wants the job so badly that they won't look critically at the position or the company during the interview, it sets the stage for failure later on. People who do that also often turn out to be impulsive. I've been subtly managed by a few interviewees (deflecting a question by providing the answer to a question they liked better, but that I didn't actually ask), and invariably regretted hiring them. I think this has the potential to backfire in a huge way. I also think it should be mentioned that if the person interviewing you is incompetent (often either the head of HR or the head of the department), what does that say about the company?
Comment by Sean H. of WI
Being a recruiter myself...I have to say one of the most annoying things a candidate ever did in an interview was show up for a high level technical sales position wearing loafers and no socks. So every time he crossed his legs, his bare leg was starring at us. Needless to say, it was hard to concentrate, and he had horrible posture. I am not sure, but I think since he was referred to us, he assumed he was already hired; not so much.
Comment by Amanda Hall of TN