The Taco Bell Syndrome: Where’s the Beef? (…In Your Interviews…)

Dawn Burke Bad HR, Dawn Hrdlica, Interviewing, Working With Recruiters

OMG.  It can’t be true. My beloved Taco Bell is taking a shellacking. Some rogue trouble-maker claims that Taco Bell’s beef is really “beef-ish” consisting of just 35% meat and 65% filler. OK, I don’t eat at Taco Bell very much now but it was THE staple of my high school diet (with a big Diet Dr. Pepper)… so my heart is heavy at this travesty. Of course, TB beef burritos only cost 98 cents. I never expected filet mignon.

This story got me thinking about interviewers though, many of whose interviews are 65% filler and very little substance. So what are the signs you’re pulling a Taco Bell and doing an interview that’s “meatless”? 

  • It lasts less than 20 minutes. ‘Nough said. What can one discern in less than 20 minutes… except maybe the candidate arrived on time? You’re giving candidates a bunch of filler.  
  • It consists of a series of 5 minute meet and greets. Meet and greets (like by the CEO) are nice, but meatless. The CEO may give a hiring manager the A-OK, “he’s a cool guy” after the greet, but he/she sure won’t be able to advocate for any candidate if the hiring manager chooses someone else.
  • You, the interviewer talks more than the candidate. I know I am beating this dead horse. You’ve heard this before. If you haven’t I am glad you are reading this now. Good interviewers listen and let the candidate do most of the talking because they want to know if the individual has the skills to do the job. And if you’re a bad interviewer, I bet you’re talking incessantly about… the job and not the candidate. Yourself. The weather. The price of tea in China. American Idol. The horrible coffee… and I could go on.
  • You are asking a candidate about their shoes more than their “skills”. This one is tougher because for some, it gives the illusion that a candidate’s qualifications are being explored. Adding to the confusion, one portion of the interview should get into similar “fit” questions. But they should be business fit, maybe personality fit, but not “the Life and Times of Joe” fit. What do I mean?  This list of things doesn’t mean crap to your ability to do the job…

So here’s the deal. I had an interview once that lasted five minutes AND I got the job… then I quickly discovered I loathed the job and the people both. Had the interviewer spent more time with me (and I with him), we both may have come to a better conclusion. Nothing in this world comes for free especially in the job search world. If you’re doing interviews that are too good to be true, too easy, too predictable, too quick, too “meatless”… you or they may be making a run for the border soon.

Yo quiero.