The Interview and the Strange Feedback

Last month, I attended a formal interaction for a job opportunity within my team. One of my teammates is looking for an instructional designer. Since it is a small team, they included us to review the candidate. That’s how and why the interaction happened last month.


In India — specifically in all the interviews that I have attended either as interviewee or interviewer — there are a few things that have gone unnoticed, unsaid, or but understood:

  • The interviewer asks more questions than the interviewee
  • The interview process has to cover all questions relating to the candidate’s professional life, including if and why was there a gap in their career
  • The interviewer has to have an upper hand or can interrupt


Thankfully, I have never followed any of these rules… and thankfully, organizations are evolving. Come 2021, I have rarely heard anyone facing such questions.


I am of a firm belief that first, it is an interaction and not an “interview,” and two it has to be two-way communication.

But, the recent interaction went from an interaction into an interrogation. And I am speechless.

So, here is how it went.


My first impression was that even though the candidate had over 20 years of experience, she didn’t have the positivity I was expecting her to have. So, I motivated her to talk more or elaborate right from her first answer. It might be true, after all, that the interview is over in the first 50 seconds.


Then, I asked her a few questions, which she answered promptly. And answered a few of her questions. Hopefully, I answered those questions satisfactorily.


Then I happened to ask her about the Oxford comma. I expect that a technical communicator with over 20 years of experience will have, at least, heard about it. She didn’t know what it was. To which I told her that I would have expected someone of her experience to know such things. Nevertheless, she appreciated me for pointing that out, and we moved on.


Then I picked up a few sentences from her resume and asked her to find out if and what was wrong with those. I was prepared to hear her say that the sentences were OK, which they weren’t. To which I would have said nothing.


But when she could not point out the oversight, I pointed out those to her and told her that she could correct those. Even though I realize this is an interview, I thought this helping hand would be acknowledged as a welcome gesture. Besides, I even clarified that the answers to those questions would not impact the interview result.


On a side note, let me tell you a secret. For all the interviews I have attended, I have purposely asked for the interviewers to point out the instances where I could have gone wrong or improved myself. I have always received welcoming replies. In the process, I have made friends with the interviewers… Selection or no selection, we have gone above and beyond those social boundaries to create a collaborative environment. I still talk to a lot of them, more as friends.


So, back to this interaction. I told the candidate how I committed mistakes and overcame those by asking the right questions. I also told her how I liked the interaction to be two-way, and not one-way. Within a week after the interaction, I heard from my boss — during our weekly interaction — that she found me to be aggressively authoritative and egotistic. Although we did clear the confusion between us (my boss and I), and even he felt nothing wrong with my approach, I have since learned a few hard lessons the hard way.


At least I now know one more thing. It is OK for me, as an interviewee, to ask what mistakes I committed. But, as an interviewer, I must not point out the scope for improvement, despite how objective and positive my intentions maybe because not everyone shares my state of mind.


Let me know what you think.

Handy Tips for Impromptu Speeches

Handy Tips for Impromptu Speeches

Here’s one post on a special request from a follower. For our company’s recent communicator’s club meeting, we organized for some impromptu speeches. Each of the speakers had their own style. While I cannot say that one spoke better the other, the effect on audience told more than we could gauge. Later, a few wished for us to provide them a handy reference list for such impromptu speeches. Hence this post.

The organizer, Sanjeev Patra, helped me prepare this list:

A good impromptu speech should have these three points:

  • A central idea: The speech should revolve around a theme. This theme, or central idea, should hold your sentences together.
  • A structure: This means that your speech should have a definite start, middle, and end. We encourage speakers to construct their speeches in the PREP format: Point, Rationale, Example, and Point. Begin with a broader definition of your point. Make the introduction emphatic and attention-grabbing. For example, begin with a quote, a question, or a story. Then, give the rationale and its supporting example. Toward the end, state your point again. Make sure you prepare well for the speech, even when you are short of time.
  • A conclusion: Conclude with a summary and a thought.

Here’s what you might consider including in your speech:

  • Personalization: Remember, your speech is your story that has your thoughts. Make sure you include an inspiration; something that made you a better person.
  • KISS: We all know what the expanded form is, but for the sake of clarity, let me share that with you again. Keep it Succinct and Simple. Yes, I know you are thinking, “but, it’s supposed to mean keep it short and sweet.” The word succinct means that your message should be crisp but accurate. So, when you share your story, make sure it is simple, short, and accurate.
  • Suspense: This one is important. On a lot of occasions, speakers end up becoming predictable with their stories; the audience can guess what’s next on the speaker’s list. Have an element of surprise and unpredictability.
  • Friendliness: Even if you don’t know and wish, you pass on the same energy to your audience. So, when you have a negative energy, that is you feel disturbed, unhappy, scared, or unsure, you pass on the same negativity to your audience. On the contrary, your image, as a speaker, should be that of a person who welcomes sharing. Remain positive. Stand straight. Look at all the audiences. If possible, name a few in your conversation. Your positive posture and body language will do half of the job for you.

It is time to rock!