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I hope this isn't too specific, but this question reminded me of the following incident and I want to know what I could have done better. If I am asking too much, feel free to edit the question.

My company sent me to a job fair and had me do an interview in kind of the worst situation. My branch had a hiring freeze, so I was unable to look for a specific position that I knew anything about. They were only looking for electrical and mechanical engineers, meanwhile I am software and know 0 about those fields. They advertised that international applicants were welcome even though we were explicitly told that anyone who needed sponsorship for a visa was an automatic no go. The person they had me an interview for had been scheduled before the conference so no one caught the fact they needed sponsorship and should have been disqualified. They had me interview this person alone. And oh by the way this was my first time interviewing someone ever.

I only realize now, years later, how much of a nightmare interview this was. I mostly feel bad about wasting the person's time, because that's really what it was.

So my questions are:

  • I only found out ten minutes prior about the visa issue, so there was no time to cancel before they arrived. Should I have cancelled as soon as they got there?
  • How do you deal with interviewing someone when there is no specific job description they are interviewing for?
  • How do you deal with interviewing someone who works in a field you know nothing about and has 20+ years of experience while you have 2?
  • In the end we had an awkward 20 minute interview, I asked them general leadership questions, and told them we would get back to them without even knowing if that was true. (Everyone else who had a visa issue we just threw out the resumes of) Is there anything else I could have done to make this less awful, besides just cancel?

I haven't done any interviews since then, and I probably never will unless it is for a specific position within my group and someone else is present.

closed as too broad by Dukeling, gnat, IDrinkandIKnowThings, scaaahu, Michael Grubey Oct 29 '18 at 4:36

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    This is probably too broad - it's generally preferred if you stick to asking one question per post, so we can focus more on that question, and to make it more useful for others. For dealing with lacking a job description, you, or someone at your company, probably knows better what to ask that we do (apart from generic HR questions). Not knowing the field and interviewing someone more experienced are probably also 2 distinct questions that should be asked separately. – Dukeling Oct 25 '18 at 19:27
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Is there anything else I could have done to make this less awful, besides just cancel?

To be honest, your company was the one responsible of this situation being "awful". If something could have been done better it would have been on their preparation and handling.

Several issues I see here:

  • The person they had me an interview for had been scheduled before the conference so no one caught the fact they needed sponsorship and should have been disqualified.

    This is clearly a mistake on their screening and scheduling processes. If this requirement was really important it should have been explicitly told so, and candidates screened and filtered if they don't have it.

  • How do you deal with interviewing someone when there is no specific job description they are interviewing for?

    Another issue here. If there is no job description, why are they interviewing in the first place for?

    Perhaps there is no formal job description, but unless there is some notion of the responsibilities and skills the candidate should have there is no goal nor point in conducting the interview (because, how would you know this candidate is the right one?)

  • How do you deal with interviewing someone who works in a field you know nothing about [...]

    Strike three. If this was not your area of expertise it made few sense to send you to conduct such interview.

  • They had me interview this person alone. And oh by the way this was my first time interviewing someone ever.

    Yet another thing to consider. If this was your first interview ever they could at least paired you with someone more experienced in conducting interviews, or give you a blitz course on conducting interviews.

    Even though it was not your area, nor were you experienced in interviewing, you did the good thing by asking Leadership and similar questions (as not everything is technical).


Bottom line, several things could have been done better, however those should have been done by your company. You say this was years ago, so the best you can do is to remember this incident and learn from it so you can avoid future situations becoming like this.

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