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August 02, 2013

Interview Communication Cracks in the Ice

Let’s talk about the small self damaging work that candidates do to ensure they won’t be hired.

Many people in career transition learn to tout and promote their achievements, find a way to practice their elevator pitch and at least have a decent brand of profile. Unfortunately, many people in the interview process quickly eliminate themselves with becoming unforced errors. But they are errors nonetheless and these mistakes often ensure you will not be hired. For now let’s focus not on the most common errors but those perhaps that may be most often ignored. Some of what will be mentioned below could be interpreted as small or insignificant, but they are not. What are some of those so-called small mistakes many candidates for hire miss? Sadly recruiters and hiring managers don’t miss these errors. The errors happen in between the traditional interview procedures we think will happen.

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Here are some of the mistakes and where and when they happen:

First communications start the initial hiring perception of you. The Hiring Perception of You often starts long before you arrive at the interview. Keep in mind the interview starts and even negotiations start at the first impression or contact with any decision maker or someone who knows a decision maker. That’s pretty early. In fact often first communication happens based on what someone else says, what people see about you on Linked In, Facebook or any social media and what they Google search and find about you. So the perception of you precedes you in almost every case. You may not be able to control what others say about you but you can control the brand and look of you on anything social media. You certainly need to coach your contacts and references about what they will say about you.

 

Perhaps we could call it Slip of the Tongueitus. Many people make a small but significant hiring killer move right here. They polish up the answers for interviews, defend their background positively and tout their achievements in story form. One recruiter said to me that a candidate he was interviewing really ranked as his first choice for the company until the very end of the interview when the candidate said they wanted to ask for one more thing. “What was that James?” the recruiter asked. And James responded, “I would really like consideration for a company car.” The recruiter mentioned that in no way was there an offer about a company car on the table, so why was he asking for a car? The recruiter asked him. The reply? “I was feeling good about this so, you know, I just thought I would throw that in there.”

A so-called slip of the tongue about anything not relevant to the job can hurt or kill a candidacy – politics, religion, education, attitude and outlook. Another executive recruiter told me, “John, once I know the person has the core parts of the job we need, I then start looking for cracks in the ice. I want to know their secret pet peeves, their attitude, their ticks, likes and dislikes. I listen for them to make a mistake and I usually don’t hold it against them but I am looking for patterns to tell me if they will or will not fit into our culture. When people talk, especially informally to me, to my assistant, to a receptionist or to anyone they often reveal a fault or give us a tell-tale as to how they will really be in the job and amongst our culture. To be real honest, most people just talk themselves right out of the job. The dirty little secret is we want the most qualified person for the job but that does not just mean the laundry list of technical skills we say we want. It’s all the little things, the everything else that matters most to me.”

Asking for something not talked about when you don’t have an indication of an offer surely may seem basic but people make the mistake too often. They reveal their frustrations during the interview or one minute before the interview starts. They text while waiting for the interview. They use a facial expression of dissatisfaction at the wrong time. They don’t say or do the extra things that would propel their candidacy and marketability past the pet peeves of the people they will work with next.

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