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Oh, No You Didn’t! Top 10 Mistakes Candidates Make During the “Courtship” Period, Part 2

bad interview

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

You’ve led that near-perfect candidate all the way through the pre-hire process, including several interviews . . . the offer letter is typed and ready to send . . . just a quick routine background check and it’s done. But hold on . . . a felony conviction? Aaargh! This kind of situation leads us to #6 on our list of Top 10 Mistakes Candidates Make. If you missed the first 5, you can check them out here.

I’m suggesting you consider the recruitment process a little like dating, and apply the same common sense to avoid these all-too-real pitfalls. The advice applies to candidates as well as the recruiters who coach them. I’ve assembled the list from real stories shared by Decision Toolbox’s team of seasoned recruiters, and we’d love to hear your faux pas stories as well.

6. Fudging the facts almost always catches up with you. Your goal is to start a long-term relationship (at least on the employment side) and hiding the truth is a step in the wrong direction. Be up front. Rather than lying about not having a degree, make it part of your self-promotion: “My experience includes accomplishments that set me apart from people with with degrees from Ivy League schools.”

7. Dominating the conversation can be a turn-off on a dinner date or during an interview. Brush up on your listening skills. Embrace the pause and think before answering a question. It’s okay to say, “Let me think about that for a moment” — in fact, it might distinguish you as a sensible, levelheaded professional.

8. Talk the talk to demonstrate you walk the walk. If your date is looking for a man who isn’t afraid to do laundry, talk about separating darks from lights. If the job posting requires “strong P&L management skills,” talk about how you drove improvements in both the top and bottom lines. And be sure you answer the question on-topic and on-target. If asked whether you’ve ever written a database query, don’t try to prove your tech savvy by describing how you set up your home Wi-Fi network all by yourself.

9. Swear off taboo topics — but don’t swear! Sex, politics and religion probably shouldn’t be at the top of the list of topics for a first date conversation, and they are definitely off limits during an interview. One hiring manager reported that a candidate actually bragged about sleeping with co-workers! Really??? And keep the language clean. An expletive during an interview might cause the hiring manager to freak the freak out.

10. Date ’em but don’t stalk ’em. Don’t be late, shake hands, make eye contact, ask for a second interview (or date) and send a handwritten thank-you note. Your mother will be so proud! But there’s something creepy about a candidate who keeps calling, emailing and texting even after a firm “thanks but no thanks.” You may be highly qualified, but once the hiring manager has made a decision, respect it.

11. (Bonus — it’s your lucky day!) Leading with demands is just bad form. Consider the old joke about someone trying to make wedding plans on a first date. In the same way, don’t start the interview by insisting on a corner office. Focus on what you bring to the table — that will lay the foundation for the negotiations when the time is right.


Next post: Top 10 Mistakes Hiring Managers Make During the “Courtship” Process.

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2 Responses to “Oh, No You Didn’t! Top 10 Mistakes Candidates Make During the “Courtship” Period, Part 2”

  1. February 25, 2013 at 8:59 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 sense in […]


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