Language, Liquor, and Lies

People are simply amazing, wonderful creatures to watch, especially in an interview setting. Some candidates prepare for days while others rely on their people skills to get them through without any preparation whatsoever. Bad move. To totally rely on your gift of the gab is risky, especially when the interviewer begins to ask questions – or peels back the layers of the onion. Without some advance prep, most candidates just can’t keep it up – a few softballs – and then, game over.

Even if you are incredibly prepared, you should always stay focused on the mission – why you are there. Letting down your guard makes you vulnerable and gives the interviewer more information than they probably want to hear. In my business, I’ve seen it all. Here are a few of my favorites:

Language– I’ve written about this phenomenon before. It goes both ways – at some point in the interview process, a candidate or client suddenly feels comfortable and that they’re really (no, not really) connecting with their audience by dropping inappropriate language. They feel like they’re building rapport – forging a solid relationship – by sharing their ‘human side’ with other person. Dropping ‘F-Bombs’ is NEVER appropriate during an interview. Just last month one of our candidates decided to use inappropriate language in their very first interview with the client, and it went over like… well, it didn’t. And it never will.

Liquor – I’m not a fan of boozing it up during a dinner interview (and please, never at lunch), but some people feel compelled to order a drink if the person conducting the interview decides to enjoy a beer or a glass of wine. This can feel like a way to connect with the person you are with – especially is they could become your future boss. I always suggest abstinence when you can, and if you can’t, just one, please (and nurse it for a very long time). I’ve seen cases of over-consumption of alcohol during a dinner interview (loose lips prevailed), and it’s always downhill from there. When it doubt – club soda with a twist of lime always works, and sounds cool too!

Lies– People in HCIT leadership positions most likely know someone who knows someone who knows you. Name-dropping is never a good idea- especially if the interviewer knows that person well. This, of course, becomes very problematic when a candidate embellishes the truth about a career milestone or tries to take credit for something they never did on their own. Remember the onion analogy above? Be careful! A safe answer that is always acceptable is “I don’t know,” or “I don’t remember”. I have story after story of how stretching the truth came back to bite the candidate in more ways than one. Go ahead and tell it like it was!

My final tip is regardless of how comfortable you are with the audience (on the telephone or in person), remember to NEVER let your guard down!

Interviews and “F” Bombs – A Lethal Combination.

I am often asked by candidate’s good (and important) questions about interview etiquette.

Let’s go over a few no-no’s…shall we?

Q. Should I bring up compensation during the interview?
A. Never. Once you get to the offer stage compensation will be discussed. To try to weave it into your interview and you send too many mixed signal to the hiring manager.

Q. At dinner, if the hiring manager orders a drink – should I order one too?
A. Never. Loose lips sink ships and your boat is still on dry land at the interview stage. Tonic – with a twist of lime- if you feel you must. Order iced tea, soda, water with a lemon or coffee – but never any booze. If you are hired there will always be time for having a cocktail with the boss in the right setting. Let’s make sure you get the job first!

Q. At what point do I tell the hiring manager why I hate my current job, boss, company (you fill in the blanks)?
A. Never. Refrain from making any disparaging comments – you may come across as whiny or worse they may detect a major character flaw in you and paint you with being a negative person. Not good. Take the high road at all times.

Q. Should I let the hiring manager in on some secrets from the competition (your current employer?
A. Never. They will see what you are doing and never hire you because they will not be able to trust you. Dumb move.

Q. What if the hiring manager drops a few ‘F” bombs or tells a story or joke that’s off color? Should I jump in with a few of my own?
A. Never- Never- Never! Under any circumstances. There is NO room for that in any business setting – especially with someone you don’t even know. Professionalism will always be in vogue. Take the high road here too! You will be glad you did.

OK. It’s your turn now! Ask me any question you have on your mind about what’s in play and what’s off limits during an interview.

Don’t be shy….