Meet the One Nobody F__ks With

Meet the One Nobody F__ks With

by Kerry Scott on 13 November 2009


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

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Anonymous November 13, 2009 at 11:25 am

I had an interview with a regional bank for a back-office math geek job. I got the boot for saying the word “sucks” during a more informal part of the interview. That and letting it slip that I wasn’t a morning person.

Which was cool, cause I ended up at a place where I don’t have to show up to work until 10am if I don’t feel like it, and nobody cares if we think something sucks or not.

(Remember people, fit is a two-way street and it’s not a cliche.)

Kerry Sandberg Scott November 13, 2009 at 11:32 am


I never would have survived at a place where you couldn’t say that things suck.

Melissa November 13, 2009 at 12:29 pm

What a pit she must have had in her stomach right after that moment! And how smart of you to see that she was really a qualified candidate who shouldn’t be penalized for a little slip.
.-= Melissa´s last blog ..Three Easy Tips to Promote Your Online Presence =-.

Marsha Keeffer November 14, 2009 at 12:08 pm

Thanks for illustrating that HR people understand being human and know which details count….and which can be dropped. Great post, Kerry!

Carla November 15, 2009 at 5:22 pm

I think if I were to do that, I would have probably been shown the door.

Actually I was show the door when I was working for the corporate office of a housewares company early in my career. I said the F word under my breath out of frustration and a manager heard me. I was called into a meeting and was told that type of language was not appropriate or acceptable. I apologized, but the building’s security guard was already waiting for me outside the door.

To be fair, it turns out that other people, including long-time employees were getting fired left and right for nothing because the company was recently brought out. We were going to be given severance packages in a few months – but not if you’re fired!

Despite the circumstances, I don’t even say “darn” at the workplace. I don’t want to be wrongfully labeled as some ‘angry black woman who has a bad temper’.

I think cursing is generally more acceptable if you’re an older white male in the position of authority.
.-= Carla´s last blog ..Documentary – Schmatta: Rags to Riches to Rags =-.

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