Education Career Services

May 10, 2010

Interview Blunder: Out the Window

Over the past month, I have been searching for a writer to join our company. I had our department manager, Ziggy, place a few job postings in various sources. As of late we have been using Craig’s List to find potential candidates (not the best medium to find quality talent but it’s cheap—I tell you this so you do not miss out on any potential employment postings during your search).  After a few weeks, the field of call-backs was reduced from 25 to 4.

We called several to come in to interview, and I won’t bore you with too many details… let it suffice you to know that Ziggy felt all four could do the job well; thus, it was down to “intangibles” to differentiate.  As the four appeared equal on paper, how was the decision to be made? To reinforce what you should do in an interview setting, here’s a quick sample of the things the candidates did which were positive:

* All four candidates showed up ten minutes early (perfect timing)
* All four candidates dressed professionally
* All four candidates engaged in proper pre-interview/company research
* All four candidates asked the right questions

Enough of the positive things for now; let’s get into the gray area:

* Two candidates did NOT send thank you e-mail notes
* Three candidates did NOT send a hard copy thank you letter (a nice touch ignored)

Well, now we have a few items to consider. Here’s the kicker and perhaps I should not be telling you this but I believe the following incident swayed my decision NOT to ask for one of the candidates to return for a second interview.

Blunder: OUT THE WINDOW!

Given the opportunity and time, I make quick trips to the neighborhood bank. On this day we had a deposit to make and I took the trip. An interview was scheduled for 20 minutes into the future so had to hurry on my return. Upon my return, I happened to get behind a well-kept vehicle going the same direction as my office. I followed the mile and both turned right (I used my turning light—the car in front did not). As we neared the front the office, a young lady, driving solo, rolled her window down and flicked a slightly smoked cigarette onto pavement.

Too many, this act of littering would go unnoticed, but I happen to believe trash in my front yard is a blunder which should go noticed. The candidate opened her car door, intentionally missed stepping on the smoking stick, walked 25 feet, and entered our glass door. Moments later I was informed of her presence.

Over the next 30 minutes we talked about how her knowledge, skills, and abilities would contribute to our goals. It was a fine interview, her answers were perfect and, as a recent graduate from UCF, I felt she would fit the dynamics well. Unfortunately all I could see was a total disregard to my front yard; she littered and I could not get past the fact (plus the scent of too much perfume in an attempt to cover the smell of smoke). Needless to say, the field of candidates dropped from four to three.

Lesson of the day: For those preparing and going into an interview, the interview begins BEFORE the actual scheduled time. If you smoke or snack, don’t litter; as a matter of fact, I strongly suggest that if you smoke, do not smoke an hour (or longer) before you dress for the interview. For non-smokers, the smell is obvious and can be a turn off. Just saying…

The employment market is too tight to lose on a flickering butt. Keep your window up and your smile on.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPCC, CPRW
Owner, Author, Publisher
Career Services International, www.careersi.com
Education Career Services, www.educationcs.com
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/dannyhuffman
The Huffman Report, www.westorlandonews.com

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