Failure to communicate mars job interviews

Guy Horst wants the chance to interview directly with a professional who does the job he’d like to do.

A sales and management professional with a 25-year career, Horst often has job-specific questions to ask when he’s in an interview. And, he says, he has ideas to share that should help his candidacy.

“But it’s tough to even have the conversation with people who don’t have the background,” Horst told me. “And I know I’m not the only one to have this problem.”

The problem, he says, is inability to communicate with the human resource generalist who does the first-round interview. And he can’t figure out a polite or productive way to do an end-around – to get to the manager who would understand his questions and potential contributions.

It’s a challenge I hear often from mid-career professionals. They say they want to share what they know with the organization. But, sometimes, they say the interviewer simply doesn’t understand the specific job.

After a recent unsatisfying interview, Horst is contemplating writing a letter to the company’s vice president of sales and sharing some ideas he had tried to convey in the interview. But he doesn’t want to insult the human resource department.

“I want to focus on the process, not the problem,” he told me. “But how to write it without coming off as arrogant or saying, “You’re doing this wrong’?”

Horst’s quandary is why many career counselors say it can be helpful to avoid the formal application/interview process. Ideally, one has contacts in the industry or the company and can make personal connection within the target department or supervisor.

Realistically, that’s not always possible. So it’s wise for applicants to practice interview responses so as to not “talk down” to interviewers. The goal: Explain in common language how one’s skills and experience are a perfect fit for the employer.