I am being encouraged to interview a candidate with a 17-page resume - what can I do with this candidate?

In the economic down-turn I accept that there should be more candidates and I should be able to set the bar high. However the actual situation is that I have to interview all applicable internally benched candidates.

And the only one put forward has submitted a 17-page resume! And I would like some advice on how to deal / confront this.

My thoughts are that I should request a 1-page summary, and provide a short deadline - thereby testing whether the candidate is capable of producing presentable documents within deadlines.

Any advice please?

stephenbooth_uk's picture

Since the goal of a resume is to get the interview and you have to interview all internally applicable benched candidates, isn't it academic in this situation?

Asking for a one page summary should be fine, perhaps send them a link to the Resume podcast with a note along the lines of "Something like the example here". The result should give you an idea of how they feel about goal fulfilment. If they turn in a reasonable facsimile of the MT example then you know they pay close attention to the goal actually set. If they turn in their 17 pager with chunks cut out to get it down to one page then you know they think they know better than you what the goal should be.


HMac's picture


you wrote:

"I am being encouraged to interview a candidate with a 17-page resume - what can I do with this candidate?.......the only one put forward has submitted a 17-page resume! And I would like some advice on how to deal / confront this.

Interview the candidate.

What's to deal with/confront?

You're not going to decide based on this person's resume-writing skills. You're going to decide based on his/her ability to do the job. And resume-writing skills probably aren't relevant to the job.

"My thoughts are that I should request a 1-page summary, and provide a short deadline - thereby testing whether the candidate is capable of producing presentable documents within deadlines."

If "producing presentable documents" is key to the job you're interviewing this person for, ask them to bring samples. Don't make 'em jump through hoops, especially if this is only a courtesy interview.


PS. If your role is to be a job coach, or to help them find a new position, then you might invest some time in talking about resumes. But if that's not your role - or the candidate isn't looking to you for it - you're "casting pearls before swine." Or, less fancy: wasting your breath.

ashdenver's picture

I would just interview the guy and (this just being me) I'd lay it on the line: "There's a LOT of information in this 17 page document and I haven't had a chance to sit down with it yet. Let's see if we can cover the high points and important items."

And/or just ignore the resume entirely and focus on his ability to provide adequate and appropriate answers to the behavioural / situational questions you pose to him. If he's that verbose in his resume, my bet would be that he'll be prone to prattling during the face to face interview (filling pauses with inane chatter.)

But yeah, I wouldn't ask for the 1-page document unless you ultimately hire the guy and you have an opportunity to coach him on concise document creation.

rwwh's picture
Licensee BadgeTraining Badge

Indeed the your problem is inside-out. Submitting a long resume is bad because it probably isn't read. In this case it was read, and the candidate even got the interview.

Receiving a long resume is not the issue. The voluminous content may upset you, but that may not be an effective way of screening the candidate at this stage of the process.

iann22's picture

Thanks for the advice - and it has helped me see things in a different context.

The role I am interviewing for is producing service documentation, and I want to question whether the candidate is capable of producing documents that will be read and won't become 'shelf-wear'.

Therefore I am concerned about document writing skills, this is a prime responsibility of the role - and the first submission, the resume, looks closer to shelf-wear than what I would be looking for as output.

Turning the candidate resume into MT format isn't the issue, I was just using this as an example of providing feedback and seeing how the candidate responds.

Maybe I could ask 'Can you give me an example of where you have been given feedback on documentation you produced - and what improvements you made in response to this feedback'.

jhack's picture

Have the candidate write something for you during the interview. Give him/her something specific ("describe in two written paragraphs the use of footnotes in MS Word" for example).

Some people have just had bad advice on resumes.


bflynn's picture

 Its an internal candidate that you  are supposed to interview anyway?  I presume the person is qualified, so just do the interview.  Factor the 17 pages into your decision as you feel is appropriate.

If the person will work out for the job, you're done and you have a great career coaching topic for O3s.  Just because MT resumes are 1 page doesn't mean resumes > 1 page are attached to a "bad" person.


Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge

The fact that someone's resume might be terrible doesn't mean that they're not necessarily a great candidate.  And if we want to be formal, a resume's purpose is to get an intereview, and since you appear to have no choice, the resume is moot.

On the plus side, if you like them that long a resume will give you plenty of ammunition, and if you don't like them, there should be plenty to mine for reasons to rule them out.

Interview them.


thaGUma's picture

I like JHack's approach - ask him as part of the interview to produce a document - reduce his 17 pages down to 1 in half an hour. If you don't hire him, he is probably better placed for the next interview.


ashdenver's picture

It's been a month - I wonder how the interview with Mister Seventeen Pages went ...

asteriskrntt1's picture

It irks me to no end when people don't close the loop.  They ask for help and guidance and then never come back and relate their experience.  Not sure it is my high D or something else.  This is a project, it needs to be closed off.




jhack's picture

...I benefitted from the kindness of strangers and did not follow up, not with thanks nor stories nor gifts.  It was not right.  

There were times when it was simple thoughtlessness.

And there was a time when dire circumstances prevented followup.

And sometimes the thread was simply lost....


My attempts to help or guide are a way to pass along to others the help that has come my way.  Thanks are nice, but that's not why I'm here.  


Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge

Now, now all.  A little grace all around, if you please. :-)

That said, regarding the original post, I forgot to add that I think the writing idea (insofar as I understand it) is a really bad one.  That kid of skill under pressure because they wrote a long resume?  Makes no sense to me.


iann22's picture

 I haven't been on the boards for a while before yesterday - I would like to provide a response and close the loop and I promise to find time in the near future.

iann22's picture

 Here’s what I did:

After recommendations from this board (and a big thank you to all) and after recommendation from my line manager – I did not pursue a demonstration of document production. Instead I asked the following interview probe question:

- Tell me about a time when you received adjusting feedback about your documents and how the deliverables changed as a result of this feedback.

 And the result of the interview was that the candidate was hired.

 I will say that he was hired for enthusiasm over a history of successful and relevant experience. But he did have a history of versatility – and he has been demonstrating his versatility and is doing a good job to date.

 Here’s what I learnt along the way:

  •   The company that I am working with requests that all employees maintain a record of their assignments in a standard format, and label it as a resume – NB. The format is very unlike the recommended MT Resume format.
  • The company standard resume is the standard for internal use. Meaning extra long resumes are quite normal.
  • Creating questions using the MT ‘Quick & Dirty’ advice is effective – and I was surprised at how easily they were accepted without alternation by my line manager.
  • I need to learn more about the art of probing during an interview.
  • My tailoring of ten questions from the Quick & Dirty interview would require an interview of around an hour minimum (and that’s without effective probing).
  • I will be using on 6 questions, created with advice from ‘Creating A Simple Behavioural Interview’ for my next half-hour interview.
  • I am unconcerned by the 10-page resume of the new candidate.
Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge

A great outcome! Well done (and let's hope your trus in his enthusiasm is well today's market, I would guess you could find both).

The GREAT thing about your company's internal document is that it follows our recommendation of regularly capturing your accomplishments for your core document.  They're one and the same for you.