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Oh, No You Didn’t! Top 10 Mistakes Candidates Make During the “Courtship” Period, Part 1

Bad interview

By Nicole Cox, Chief Recruitment Officer
With Tom Brennan, Senior Writer

“The candidate was wearing a stained blouse.” “He answered his cell twice during the interview.” Believe it or not, these are real mistakes candidates make. Whether you are a job seeker or a recruiter with an opportunity to “coach” candidates, consider applying the same common sense you would use on a date to interviews and other interactions with hiring managers. Of course, you’ll need to know the limits of the analogy — best not to lean in for a goodnight kiss at the end of an interview!

The faux pas and advice presented here are compiled from real stories shared by Decision Toolbox’s team of seasoned recruiters. No doubt you have some stories about mistakes made by candidates during the recruitment process — share them!

1. Inflating your salary is a little like posting a profile picture on eHarmony with your head pasted on Arnold Schwarzenegger’s body. You don’t want the hiring manager to lo-ball you, so why hi-ball the hiring manager? Instead, focus on the skills and knowledge that make you worth the salary you want. Besides, strong relationships are based on trust.

2. Showing up like a ragamuffin can cut short a date or an interview. Dress the part and consider first impressions. It doesn’t take a hardcore grunge look to put the hiring manager off — a wrinkled top or an unshaven face can put you at a disadvantage from the initial handshake. Low-cut tops or tight leather pants may add a sexy touch to a date, but you’re better off going professional and even a little conservative for an interview.

3. Letting your attention wander effectively tells the hiring manager, “You’re not that important to me.” Set your cell to silent mode and leave it alone during the interview. People may be coming and going in the office and there may be activities out the window, but you want to give the hiring manager your full attention.

4. Giving TMI is as perilous in an interview as it is on a first date. Going on and on about your ex is a big no-no, whether he’s a jerk or she’s a great gal. Likewise, hiring managers can draw the wrong conclusion from your story about a bad relationship with a co-worker, your clueless ex-boss or how getting this job is going to help you cope with your divorce (it may very well do that, but the interview is not the time or place to air your dirty laundry).

5. No pencil for class is a little off the dating analogy, but doesn’t thinking about dating take you back to high school and college? One way or the other, you should show up to the interview with a copy of your resume (free of spelling errors!) as well as pen and paper to jot down notes. And do your homework — look up the hiring manager on LinkedIn, spend time on the company’s website, Google the company to see where they’re showing up in the news.

Next week I’ll share the rest of the top 10 mistakes candidates make, and in the third week of February I’ll provide the first installment of the top 10 mistakes that hiring managers make — mistakes that scare away candidates on the first “date!”

View part 2 here

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6 Responses to “Oh, No You Didn’t! Top 10 Mistakes Candidates Make During the “Courtship” Period, Part 1”

  1. February 08, 2013 at 10:20 am, Top 5 Workplace Blogs of the Week HR, Recruiting, Social Media Policies, Human Resources, HR Technology Blogging4Jobs said:

    […] Oh, No You Didn’t! Top 10 Mistakes Candidates Make During the “Courtship” Period, … […]


    • February 08, 2013 at 11:47 am, dtkgraham said:

      Thanks so much for including us in your Top 5 list, Blake & Blogging4jobs!


  2. February 08, 2013 at 12:31 pm, Lauren @ AchieveIt said:

    LOVE the dating analogy. Another thing about an interview and dating that is similar: you go home and think about what they thought about you and stress over it endlessly until they call!


    • February 08, 2013 at 2:35 pm, dtkgraham said:

      Thanks Lauren! Too funny, and very true!


  3. February 18, 2013 at 7:55 am, Oh, No You Didn’t! Top 10 Mistakes Hiring Managers Make During the “Courtship” Period, Part 1 | Blog | Decision Toolbox said:

    […] I write “wooing”? You bet. In fact, in my last two posts (here and here) I’ve advocated that recruiters encourage their candidates to use the same common […]


  4. April 08, 2013 at 5:00 am, Shaping Perception in the Art of Communication, Part 3 | Blog | Decision Toolbox said:

    […] perception you want. To see some examples of how NOT to manage interactions, see Nicole Cox’s blog series on the Top Ten Mistakes Hiring Managers and Candidates Make During the Courtship […]


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