I saw this firsthand as a graduate student when I was interviewing for jobs with some chemical companies. Even though I was leaning towards a career in teaching, I was intrigued with the idea of making money, so I put out my resume for companies making recruiting trips to our department. Like all my classmates who applied, I landed several interviews with companies that were supposedly interested in my credentials. After the interviews, no one was interested in my credentials. One interviewer even sent me an email a few hours afterwards to tell me I was rejected. I personally had thought the interviews went ok, but obviously I wasn't what they were looking for. Many of my classmates were getting the shaft as well.
So what exactly were these companies looking for? We didn't need to ask the interviewers. We just needed to see who was getting the job offers. A few people each year always seemed to emerge as "the chosen ones" whom the companies seemed to love and fight over. While these chosen people were no dummies by any measure, they weren't the top chemists in terms of academic achievement. In fact, there seemed to be ZERO correlation whatsoever with chemistry knowledge and job placement. What these people did have more than the rest of us were strong communication skills and personalities that exude confidence.
I understood that good interview skills were important for landing a job, but I wasn't expecting it be seemingly the ONLY factor. It was like once you passed the threshold of being good enough for a PhD, it made absolutely no difference how smart you were or how much you accomplished. Were the interviewers looking for the most productive employees who could make the companies lots of money or were they looking for a BFF to have a beer with after work?While I think that it might be oversold just a bit, I think there's a lot of truth to "those who can project the most confidence (however horse-puckey-filled) tend to interview the best." I don't really know what to say about it, because "you should learn to lie better" doesn't sound very good. I've always tried to be "the best version of myself" during interviews and not much more.
(Note to B-rate Prof: You know, it's entirely possible most chemists just aren't very good at interviewing people, and you just got a bad draw. I'm sure that's entered your mind, though.)
Readers, I'm probably full of baloney myself. What are your thoughts?
One more thing: If I had 3 questions I ask myself when I've been on the other side of the table at an interview, it would be these [I've never had sole hiring authority, but I've been able to (like many of you) chip in my opinion]:
- Is this person an axe murderer? Are they full of baloney?
- Can this person do the job? Do they seem fairly competent?
- Will this person annoy the ever-loving crap out of me?