How Not To Suck In Your Job Interview

We have been hiring a lot of people lately, which means that I’ve been interviewing lots of job candidates, and I’ve realized something I hadn’t thought when I was on the other side of the table:

What the hell are these people thinking?


You interview a candidate who has deep knowledge of your industry and checks off every box in the ‘skills’ section of the job description. They assure you that they are the perfect fit for the position, able to hit the ground running on day one. They look great on paper and seem to be excited about the job. You make an offer, the employee starts working, and soon you are inundated with red flags and problems coming at you from all sides.

They say that there are 4 key hiring elements:

1. Personal Characteristics
2. Motivation
3. Skills
4. Knowledge

Personal Characteristics

The true nature of a person remains unchangeable (or at least realistically challenging to change given the time element that has been applied to one’s behavioral patterns, whether at work or in social settings).

Yes, you can teach a chicken to climb a tree, but why didn’t you get a cat or a squirrel in the first place?

Evaluating personal characteristics vary on the needs of your organization.

If you’re running a company that requires resolute integrity, then the people you should hire should have such:

1. Integrity
2. Intelligence
3. Judgment
4. Initiative
5. And all other yawn characteristics

If you’re planning to take over the world and consolidate the underground bad guys … or simply kill your competitors then you’ll need someone who’s more like James Bond … except he’d be working for Lex Luthor.

1. Is he hungry enough?
2. Is he smart enough not to sing your name when caught?


Is he | she in it for the money? Why would he | she want to work with or for you anyway? You’re a horrible person, he | she must be horrible too.

Does he | she want world peace?

Does he | she want to eat you alive?


Easiest to spot. They’re supposed to have acquired skills through their experience. The problem is most people tend to value it more when, in truth, any skills acquired would have to be reframed to suit the needs of your organization.

As long as those foundational skills are present, there would be support learnings that can be provided along the way.

Of course there are exceptions, for instance, you’re not dumb enough to be training brain surgeons along the way, are you?


Like skills, it would change over time as he | she will learn to adapt to the environment of your organization.

As a result, when evaluating this dimension, what’s most important is not the knowledge that the candidate already has. Instead, assess their foundation and framework for gaining new knowledge, as well as how able and willing they are to do so.

If you’re one of the lucky few, then …

And here’s one more bit of advice, this time for the people doing the interviewing: don’t ask any brainteasers.

About Asmartrock

N. Mark Castro is the Southeast Asia Director of JUMP DIGITAL Asia, which is an internationally-awarded and fully integrated digital marketing agency with 5 out of 10 offices in the ASEAN region. He is also the Secretary General of the Philippine Business Club Indonesia, managing and assisting the traffic of investments between the Philippines and Indonesia. He shuttles between Indonesia, Philippines, Myanmar, Singapore, Cambodia, and Australia. The views posted here are his own and do not in any way reflect the views of the companies he represents.

Posted on January 27, 2014, in General, Thoughts and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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Charlotte Setijadi

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