Help! I Dropped an F-Bomb in my Interview! Job Applicant Disasters.

green and purple flip flops

Recent events make it clear that a certain number of people didn’t get the memo :) about what to wear to their job interview, not to mention a few other basics. Starting with the small, silly stuff, and moving up to the more startling, my office has seen all this in the last months.

  • Reason for leaving last job: “Quit.” (Could you elaborate?) Another person answered: “At-will employment.” (I’m left wondering which party chose to sever the relationship?)
  • WPM: 13.  (It appears that keyboarding is not your forte. Leave it off your application if it’s not essential  to the job.)
  • Another applicant misspelled the names of two of his last three employers.
  • In an interview for a position requiring driving, I asked, “How is your driving record?”  She answered, “Not that good, actually.” (Too much honesty maybe? She could have said, “I have one speeding ticket on my current record,” which was in fact the case, as I learned.)
  • An applicant called me to check on the status of her application, then put me on hold twice to attend to other matters.
  • The candidate arrived in flip-flops and an extremellllyyyyy low-cut outfit. To cap off her casual look, she kicked off her sandals when she sat down.

My examples have been pretty tame so far. Hold on to your hats.

  • 1.) The candidate answered his phone during the interview with my associate. 2.) It rang again and he answered it again.  3.) He carried out actual conversations rather than quickly silencing his phone and apologizing. 4.) And worst of all, he dropped the F-bomb during his little side chat!

So my readers, I’m thinking we all need to do more to get the job seeking memo out to more people.

Jobseekers: Educate yourself, especially if it’s been a few years since you’ve been looking. Find out what the is norm for your industry. If you work in an industry like mine, where the work environment is known to be somewhat casual, don’t underestimate the hiring process. Prepare for, dress for, and expect a real interview.

Jobseekers’ friends and family: Remember, friends don’t let friends go to job interviews looking like they are heading for the beach or a nightclub. Speak up! Stage an intervention. And offer to proof their resumes. Refer them to contacts who can help them succeed with their search.

Human Resources, Hiring Managers and Recruiters: I often hear that we aren’t career coaches and it’s not our jobs to give candidates feedback on their interview performance. But what would happen if we did?  (I could tell Miss Microwear, “Although you have some great experience and training, we did not select you because we believe your attire could be distracting and confusing to your clients.”)

In addition, my HR friends, I believe we should do more to call people on their obnoxious behavior, though I realize doing so may limit our ability to collect content for juicy blog posts. :)

When the person called me to check her status and attempted to put me on hold for the second time, I interrupted politely and said, “This appears not to be a good time for you to talk. Why don’t you call when it’s more convenient?”  With the F-bomber, my associate was probably unprepared for such unexpected behavior, but I would suggest she interrupt when things get out-of-hand. She could get the person’s attention with a time-out signal, and if that was ignored, excuse herself from the room, saying, “Come get me when you’re ready to continue.”  When he emerged from his phone call, short of some kind of compelling explanation, he would probably be told the interview was over.

Thoughts? Comments? Especially, what do you see as the role, if any, of HR and recruiters in delivering feedback to rejected candidates? And if you have any funny resume and interview stories, I’d love to hear them!

Photo by lincolnblues

Note: Some small identifying details have been changed for confidentiality reasons but all these stories are completely true.

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