Pardon me while I answer my cell phone and commit other interview blunders...

I love being connected; perhaps a bit too much because getting away becomes more and more difficult the more technology I add to my life. However, there are times when it is completely inappropriate to take advantage of that which instant connectivity has to offer. Specifically I’m referring to answering your cell in the middle of an interview.

I have been working on a position in the treasury group of my company and called a very promising looking candidate today. When I asked if it was a good time to discuss his resume he politely declined citing that he was in the midst of an interview but would be available in approximately 30 minutes.

Pardon me for being harsh, but I didn't call back.

After I got over the initial shock of a candidate answering the phone mid-interview I started thinking about other faux pas one can engage in during the interview process. While some offenses are worse than others, there are some relatively universal guidelines one can follow.

-When putting on jewelry, don't go for the Mr. T look
-Cologne/perfume application should be very light if done at all
-Deodorant, however, is still a must
-Oral hygiene should not be ignored if there is any chance of a face-to-face interaction
-A suit is still considered professional interview attire
-Avoid verbally bashing your previous/current employer
-Avoid verbally bashing the company that you are interviewing with (or their affiliate)
-Posture is important and reclining with hands behind head definitely sends the wrong message
-Try to avoid any displays of gastronomic discomfort
-Regardless of level of interest, a thank-you is always appropriate

Although some of these items may seem silly, I had at least one candidate break each and every one of these cardinal rules of interviewing. Whether the candidate gets the job or not, as long as I book several professionally appropriate interviews in a row I begin thinking that people intrinsically know how to act during said meeting. This had just begun to happen when the gentleman answered his cell phone mid-interview.

Perhaps I should send him a thank-you note for reminding me to continue coaching each candidate I schedule an interview for.

Views: 87

Comment by Maureen Sharib on February 9, 2009 at 7:10pm
Good advice Sandra.

Here's a piece of advice that we all can use, jobseeker or not.
When you're ON THE PHONE (remember that ol' thing?) and your Call Waiting binks in, do not say, to the person with whom you are speaking (shades of Lily Tomlin's Ernestine) "Hang on" and then disappear leaving me gasping out my next syllable. At the very least, ASK ME (if you must) if it's okay with me that you answer your other caller and do I mind? Of course I'm going to say "Go ahead - I don't mind waiting" but do I really "mind" waiting? Probably. But at least you asked so I'll forgive you your indiscretion.

Something happened to me as a very young woman that drove this home to me. Sure, I was buying my very first car (at Marge Schott's buick dealership -remember her?) and the salesman wanted my business. I was sitting at his desk on the open showroom and his phone rang - in those days they were clunky black things that sat on desks. Without skipping a beat (this was the dealership's TOP salesman I later learned) and without removing his eyes from mine he opened a desk drawer and put the ringing thing in the drawer. I was very flattered.

"Hokey," you're thinking. Maybe, but it's stayed with me all these years.

“Flattery is the infantry of negotiation.” ~ Lord Chandos
Comment by Becky Metcalf on February 10, 2009 at 11:40am
Maureen - that sales guy probably has one of his buddies at the dealership make that call in the middle of each of his “sit downs”! What a great way to say to your customer, "you are my number one!" - love it!

Gino, great list. As much as it is horrifying when it is happening, these stories never fail to get a giggle when we think back on them. I agree that some degree gratitude for the swift-kick reminder on that particular piece of our job is well warranted, that should make you think twice before skimping on the interview prep!
Comment by Gino Conti on February 10, 2009 at 1:15pm
Bluetooth cyborg ego > standard ego

I'm going to avoid further commentary on my feelings toward the use of bluetooth headsets during any activity other than driving.

It is odd to me how some people just don't seem to get it when interviewing. Even though I make a habit of prepping people, like Becky said, this gives me that swift-kick reminder to keep mentioning some of the more obvious interview do's and don'ts regardless of how professional they seem on the phone...
Comment by Stephanie VanTil on February 10, 2009 at 1:57pm
I am sure we all have horror stories about idiotic candidates and what they have done to blow the interview.

I actually had a guy that was scheduled to do a phone interview with a company. I prepped him to be waiting for the phone call in a quiet room where he would not be distracted. Did he pay attention to my advice....NO! The company called us immediately after the interview and proceeded to tell us what an idiot the candidate was (thankfully they did not blame us). The candidate answered the phone and was repeatedly interrupted by his children. It would have been one thing if this happened at home...almost understandable, but he was not at home. The guy was actually pumping gas while all his kids (five of them) were in the back of the minivan!!! He took the call pumping gas with his kids in the car!

I can still not believe what an unbelievably stupid mistake this was on the candidates part.
Comment by Maureen Sharib on February 10, 2009 at 2:14pm
People often-times are not aware how unprofessional they sound when they allow themselves to be repeatedly interrupted.
Comment by See_Jane_Recruit on February 12, 2009 at 4:24pm
Another thing candidates need to be cognizant of during an interview is make-up. There was a time when I recruited CNAs (I still have nightmares about that) and I had a young woman come in with lime-green eyeshadow that went from one temple to the other, straight across the bridge of the nose. She looked like she was wearing lime green-framed sunglasses. This girl wanted me to send her into the private homes of the elderly. Save the crazy make-up for the club!
Comment by Maureen Sharib on February 13, 2009 at 5:41am
"Oh, the fun of pretending to be interested in what someone else is typing to someone you don't know," says an exasperated Tyler Barnett, a 25-year-old businessman in Los Angeles who calls himself a "textaholic" but says he rarely does it on a date." Here.


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