A former Google HR exec says he's seen too many people make the same mistake trying to interview candidates for jobs

Courtesy of ThumbtackYou end up with unfair outcomes, Justin Angsuwat (pictured) said.
  • In a job interview, the interviewer may try to impress the candidate with how smart they are and trip them up with confusing questions.
  • That’s what Justin Angsuwat, vice president of people at Thumbtack and a former Google HR exec, has observed.
  • Angsuwat said this approach may lead to unfair outcomes and a poor candidate experience.

Job candidates typically spend a lot of time and energy thinking about ways to impress the interviewer: a spiffy suit, stellar references, and thoughtful answers to commonly asked questions.

Presumably, the interviewer is there to evaluate the candidate and decide whether their suit, their references, and their answers are impressive enough.

But Justin Angsuwat has observed interviewers with a secondary motivation: impressing the candidate, or trying to prove how smart they are.

Angsuwat is the vice president of people at Thumbtack, an online platform that connects people with local professionals. He was previously the head of human resources for Google’s go-to-market functions.

These types of interviewers typically say to themselves, “I can think of some really tough questions. I can trip them up,” Angsuwat said. “That’s kind of dangerous because you end up with some unfair outcomes, potentially.”

Read more: 16 interview questions that are designed to trick you

Specifically, you don’t get a sense of the candidate’s abilities so much as their willingness to be cowed by the interviewer smirking and tapping their foot.

Indeed, an interviewer interested in flaunting their intelligence may turn into a manager prone to doing the same.

Executive coach Marshall Goldsmith previously told Business Insider that the biggest challenge for managers is not always proving how smart they are. “You need to say, ‘Wait a minute. I’m here to help other people be heroes. I’m not here to be the hero anymore,” Goldsmith said. In fact, he added, “You want the employees to know more than the boss.”

Angsuwat said it’s near impossible to get a sense of the candidate’s potential from asking deliberately tricky questions. What’s more, he added, “It’s not a great candidate experience.”

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