Early in my career, I did a lot of college recruiting (i.e. traveling to campuses to recruit students who were about to graduate from college). One of the things that is especially important in college recruiting is making candidates comfortable. They often don’t have a lot of interview experience, so they’re usually nervous. It’s important build a rapport and to get them to relax a bit, so that the experience isn’t so painful. That way you get a clearer picture of whether they’re good candidates for your company.
I was recruiting for a large company, and they had a very defined recruiting process, which included a list of behavior-based questions I was supposed to ask each candidate. She had been doing great so far, and the interview was going well. Apparently I’d been a little too successful in making her comfortable and building rapport, thought, because when I asked the last question (“Tell me about a time you had a conflict with a co-worker”) she laughed and said:
“Oh, people know not to f__k with me.”
And then she froze.
And you could see the realization slowly cross her face. It was painful to watch.
She actually ended up getting hired, because I decided to leave this out of my interview notes. This was a 21-year-old who had very little experience in job interviews. She had been extremely nervous at the start, and she grew more and more comfortable as the interview progressed. We had been laughing and the tone was chatty throughout, and I think she just lost her focus for a second. It happens.
She turned out to be an excellent employee.
Not every interview misstep is fatal. It’s okay to be human. If you can avoid dropping f-bombs in interviews, that’s good, but if you’ve said something dumb in an interview, stop obsessing. Nobody’s perfect.
Tales of the Cluefree appear pretty much every Friday. Past stories are here.
Photo by platinumblondelife