It’s the small details that stick with me about job candidates. As much as I try to disregard some of the red flags, I find that when I do, my instincts always prove me right. This is why we recruiters are hired by clients, right? We are to act as the funnel or the strainer that screens through the the tell-tale signs that others let slip through the cracks. You may think I’m being overly “sensitive” about such pet peeves. However, I assure you, that experience has shown that careful interpretation of such behavior aligns perfectly with the type of employee such individuals are or will become.
Following is my list of top 5 pet peeves:
1. Candidates who become the interviewers: Particularly candidates who are senior level or are in human resources, tend to turn the tables and wrongfully take the lead during interviews. Oftentimes, such candidates take initiative in all of the wrong places: like asking more questions than they care to answer or ending the interview before it’s actually officially done. What this goes to show is that these Type-A personalities are not great collaborators, don’t have great listening skills, and/or are simply control freaks. My word of advice–no matter what your role is/was at work, if you’re looking for a new role, refrain from becoming the interviewer.
2. Candidates who repeatedly reschedule: We all have hectic schedules and I know that interviewing becomes like somewhat of a second or part-time job. However, if you are making the commitment to take on this new challenge, then sticking to your part of the deal (i.e. keeping appointment times) is crucial. It’s no fun chasing a candidate who cancels more than twice, especially if it’s for a job that can easily be filled by someone whose schedule is more amenable to interviewing. Decide whether you are fully committing to taking time off beforeyou engage in any sort of interview process. More times than not, candidates who chronically cancel appointments, tend to have issues with follow-through and reliability at work.
3. Candidates who suck the life out of me: Sure, you have have questions, and by all means feel free to ask. It’s when you ask the same questions (phrased differently), or you bombard with a 10-part question that you overwhelm. Structure your questions in a smart and strategic way, so that you don’t pester or become the unbearable candidate who never gets a call-back for an interview. If you suck the life out of me in a 40-60 minute conversation, I can only imagine what you’ll be like once you’re placed (no matter what your references say about you). Remember to listen closely before asking any questions, as many of your questions may be answered before you have to ask. Additionally, if you ask all of your questions during your first interview, what will you have left if (by chance) you are invited back? Too many questions also makes you seem like you haven’t done enough homework or outside research to prepare yourself for the interview.
4. Candidates who think they fit every job: It may be arrogance or insecurity–yet, no matter how brilliant and educated you are, you are not right for every job I am working on. It’s great that you can be a chameleon within certain parameters of your skill set, but to claim that your experience and talents can cross you over from being a CEO to a CIO is more than a bit of stretch. “To thine own-self be true.” Spare yourself the disappointment of not being considered for any job by shooting yourself in the foot by overselling your experience. A candidate who thinks he/she fits every job makes me think they over-promise (and under-deliver), are unrealistic, or just plain desperate. Remember, that remaining a specialist gets you farther than marketing yourself as a Jack/Jill of all trades and master of none.
5. Candidates who don’t follow up in a timely matter: The 24-hour rule does apply here, and the style and content get points too. If there is no follow-up with a thank you note, then I take it that you don’t want to be considered for a job, or that you are not interested in continuing a working relationship. Additionally, if the follow-up or thank you note is generic, then it tells me that you didn’t capture the details of our conversation. I’m really not a huge stickler of a note being handwritten or emailed, but it should be written promptly and with compelling reasons as to why you should be considered for the role based on our conversation. Note writing shows finesse and proper business etiquette. Bypassing doing so shows lack of soft skills and that is often the point-of-difference in elevating your next step from a job to a high-profile career.