I quickly learned not to trust our HR department. They reminded me of realtors and filling in the vacancy as quickly as possible seemed more important to them than finding the right person.
After becoming an interviewer myself, I came up with a few trustworthy observations. Here’s the list:
1) Count the number of grammatical errors and typos in the resume and multiply it by $100,000 dollars. This is the yearly cost of dealing with the errors made by this fellow.
2) Look hard at the interviewee’s hand. If there are traces of engine oil under the fingernails or missing finger tips give him (or in extremely rare cases ‘her’) some extra marks. Hands-on, just the way we like them.
3) Ask them what they think about FMEAs. If they have more than 3 years’ experience designing stuff and use the cliché “a useful tool to prevent failure modes,” tell them to jerk-off. By the way, the perfect response to this question during an interview is “after many years of writing FMEAs I struggle to appreciate their usefulness. However I understand how many of your customers hold this piece of paper very close to their hearts and I will ensure that my FMEAs will not be the detail that holds up your PPAPs.”
4) If they have a PhD in engineering from some Chinese university, ask them to draw a stress/strain graph for any metal they like. If after 30 seconds you don’t get an answer, draw it for them and ask them if they like your picture of Mount Everest.
5) There might be instances that could catch you completely off guard. In one interview I gave, a fellow who had been unemployed for over a year and who wore a bright blue jacket, gave such a bad answer that I felt a little laugh coming out. I managed to suppress it by turning my head away from blue-boy and instead looked at my co-interviewer. Geoff. The trouble is that Geoff was starting to turn purple as he endured the pain of holding in a giggle. Then we both burst. Since then I learned a trick: If you feel a laugh coming up, bite your lower lip really hard and for heavens sake, stare at nothing but the floor.
6) Show the interviewee a component that failed in the field and ask them why they think it failed and what they would do to fix it. Rule 5 above may come in very handy.
7) Never ever ask the question “what is your greatest strength.” This cliché is equivalent to playing the opening riff of ‘stairway to heaven’ in a guitar shop and is reserved for interviewing candidates at Wal-mart.