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Commentary > Wastler's Wanderings
Job interviews: What not to say
In the employment game, some applicants don't seem to know even the most basic rules.
October 22, 2004: 10:34 AM EDT

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NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - There are lots of macro-economic reasons for unemployment.

But there are micro-reasons too. Foremost among them, some people just don't interview well.

Yes, we are filling a couple of positions here at CNN/Money. I bemoaned resumes not too long ago. Now the interviews have ended. I want to pass along some tips for future applicants.

1. Don't pick a fight with the interviewer. Example follows ...

Applicant: "So you are making a decision this week?"

Me: "Well, no, I don't think so. I'm narrowing down ..."

Applicant: "This is outrageous. I was told that you would decide this week!"

Me: "I'm sorry if there was a miscommunication. I'm hoping to reach a decision soon, but there are still some interviews ..."

Applicant: "This is extremely unprofessional and unacceptable ..."

Me: "All right, listen. If you came in here and knocked my socks off, sure, I might have made a decision this week. But you didn't, so goodbye."

A shame really. The person was on my short list up to that point.

2. Don't argue like you already work here ...

Me: "That's an interesting story pitch. But it's very legalistic. You see, for our readers, you really need to identify the points in the process where investors can get a clue about buy, sell or hold."

Applicant: "Well, now you're just thinking like an editor."


Hey, it's not all me. The deputy managing editors here do some interviews too.

3. Know what you want to do (or at least make the interviewer think you do).

Deputy: "So do you want to work here or not?"

Applicant: "I'll let you be the judge of that."

Are these anecdotes indicative of some overwhelming factors in today's job climate? Nah.

Interview horror stories happen whether the job market is good or bad. But it goes to show that a few of the folks in the 5.4 percent out-of-work rate (or in dead-end careers for that matter) do, in fact, deserve to be there.

Next interview, please.  Top of page

Allen Wastler is managing editor of CNN/Money and a commentator on CNN and CNNfn. He can be e-mailed at

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