They were no­ticed but not hired

The Washington Post Sunday - - BUSINESS - MICHELLE SIN­GLE­TARY

One would think that in an econ­omy where un­em­ploy­ment is high, ap­pli­cants for the pre­cious few job open­ings would be on their best be­hav­ior.

How­ever, many peo­ple just can’t help but show their true selves, even when so much is at stake, ac­cord­ing to a new na­tion­wide Ca­reerBuilder sur­vey of more than 2,400 hir­ing man­agers. The man­agers re­ported some of the re­ally out­ra­geous ac­tions of job can­di­dates.

Can we just take this op­por­tu­nity to shake off our eco­nomic blues to have a laugh at the way some job ap­pli­cants be­have? They won’t know.

One man­ager re­ported that a job-seeker ate all the sweets from the candy dish while try­ing to an­swer ques­tions. Maybe the ap­pli­cant hadn’t eaten be­fore the in­ter­view, as ex­perts ad­vise, and sud­denly got so hun­gry he couldn’t con­trol him­self. He didn’t want his rum­bling stom­ach to be a dis­trac­tion.

An­other per­son blew her nose and lined up the used tis­sues on the ta­ble in front of her. She was just be­ing metic­u­lous, right?

Or what about the guy who wore a hat to the in­ter­view that said, “ Take this job and shove it?” Just demon­strat­ing a sense of hu­mor?

One man tossed his beer can

in the out­side trash bin be­fore com­ing into the re­cep­tion of­fice. How thought­ful he was to throw it out­side so clients wouldn’t think the com­pany tol­er­ated drink­ing on the job.

In the sur­vey, one man­ager re­ported that a can­di­date brought in a copy of a col­lege diploma, but it was ob­vi­ous that liq­uid white-out had been used to add the per­son’s name to the doc­u­ment. Maybe the school spelled the per­son’s name wrong on the diploma.

Here are some other things that job can­di­dates did:

Ar­rived for the in­ter­view ac­com­pa­nied by a par­ent. The pos­i­tive spin: The woman didn’t want to be late and her mother is al­ways on time.

Brought con­fi­den­tial doc­u­ments from a pre­vi­ous em­ployer. The pos­i­tive spin: He doesn’t lose track of im­por­tant pa­pers.

Con­fided that she was a witch. The pos­i­tive spin: Think of the ad­van­tage you might have over com­peti­tors.

An­swered ev­ery ques­tion only af­ter re­fer­ring to a de­tailed binder of notes. The pos­i­tive spin: Won’t make a move with­out do­ing a lot of re­search.

Told the in­ter­viewer that her fa­vorite pas­time is to walk around in her pa­ja­mas all day and do noth­ing. The pos­i­tive spin: She would be well rested when she did show up for work.

Talked bad about a spouse. The pos­i­tive spin: To get away from the spouse, the per­son might ar­rive at work early and leave well af­ter ev­ery­one else has gone.

Pro­vided a de­tailed list­ing of how a pre­vi­ous em­ployer made him mad. The pos­i­tive spin: The per­son won’t be afraid to speak up to im­prove the work en­vi­ron­ment.

Hugged the hir­ing man­ager at the end of the in­ter­view. The pos­i­tive spin: The per­son has a warm per­son­al­ity.

Talked about how an af­fair had cost the can­di­date a pre­vi­ous job. The pos­i­tive spin: He’s hon­est. Of course, the neg­a­tive spin: He’s dis­hon­est.

In the same sur­vey, Ca­reerBuilder asked hir­ing man­agers what they con­sider to be the most com­mon in­ter­view mis­takes:

71 per­cent said an­swer­ing a cell­phone or tex­ting dur­ing the in­ter­view. I have no pos­i­tive spin on this. It’s in­sanely rude, and I would end the in­ter­view im­me­di­ately. One hir­ing man­ager said a can­di­date walked into the in­ter­view ses­sion tex­ting.

69 per­cent said dress­ing in­ap­pro­pri­ately.

69 per­cent don’t like it when an ap­pli­cant ap­pears bored.

66 per­cent said ap­pear­ing ar­ro­gant.

63 per­cent would rather you didn’t talk neg­a­tively about a cur­rent or pre­vi­ous em­ployer.

59 per­cent said chew­ing gum.

“ The goal of any in­ter­view is to stand out from the other can­di­dates and ul­ti­mately land the job, but make sure you stand out for the right rea­sons,” said Rose­mary Haefner, vice pres­i­dent of hu­man re­sources for Ca­reerBuilder. “Even though the job-search process can be frus­trat­ing, can­di­dates should stay pos­i­tive, fo­cus on their strengths and be pre­pared on how to best sell their skill set.”

In a dif­fer­ent sur­vey, Ca­reerBuilder found that with smaller re­cruit­ing staffs and larger amounts of job ap­pli­ca­tions, em­ploy­ers are turn­ing to technology to help find work­ers. Six per­cent of the em­ploy­ers sur­veyed re­ported that they have con­ducted video in­ter­views with po­ten­tial job can­di­dates. Eleven per­cent said they plan to be­gin us­ing video in­ter­views this year.

So, folks, be care­ful out there. Not only could your bizarre be­hav­ior cost you an op­por­tu­nity, but these days, there’s also a chance your in­ter­view tape could end up on YouTube.

Read­ers can write to Michelle Sin­gle­tary c/o The Washington Post, 1150 15th St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20071. Her e-mail ad­dress is sin­gle­tarym@wash­post.com. Com­ments and ques­tions are wel­come, but due to the vol­ume of mail, per­sonal re­sponses may not

be pos­si­ble. Please also note com­ments or ques­tions may be used in a fu­ture col­umn, with the writer’s name, un­less a spe­cific request to do oth­er­wise is

in­di­cated.

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