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Social cues and job interviews: mistakes you don't want not to make

Jul 11, 2019

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Sometimes on a job search, even the most qualified of candidates can be oblivious to the obvious when it comes to socially acceptable behaviours.
A resume acts as a candidate's professional first impression, but those perfect-on-paper qualifications can be easily dismissed if the hiring manager feels in-person meeting is overshadowed by interview improprieties. 

Hiring mangers admit to knowing within the first 90 seconds if they want to proceed or dismiss a candidate, and there are certain social circumstances that should be avoided in a professional interview setting. 

Here are a few formality faux pas Procom recruiters advise getting rid of if you want to get the gig. 

1. Showing up with shopping bags
Giving yourself plenty of commuting time is a wise move; however, you may find yourself having some time to kill if you were a bit early with your ETA. So, a quick trip to the store may seem perfectly acceptable—but it’s not. “My candidate was quite early for her interview, so she decided to pick up a few groceries and arrived at the interview with 3 grocery bags. The hiring manager was not impressed,” admits Valerie Anderson-Migliore, a Technical Recruiter with Procom.

Bottom line? Interview then shop!

2. Being a victim of the weather(man)
Inclement weather is unavoidable, but planning for it isn’t. If the weather man calls for sun but the sky is threatening something different, bring an umbrella.  Similarly, in the warmer months, you may want to opt for air-conditioned transit rather than walking on a hot day. “A candidate once decided to walk 30 minutes for an interview at 1 p.m. on a hot day when the temperature was 30 degrees,” says Richa Dhupar, a Recruiting Manager with Procom. “The interviewer mentioned that the candidate was sweating and smelled.”

Making these types of mistakes may give the indication that you don’t plan ahead.

3. Drinking
Come on, right? That’s probably what you’re thinking, but some candidates do fall off the wagon before showing up for their interview. “The worst was a candidate turning up smelling of liquor,” says Marnie Pertsinidis, an Account Manager with Procom, “You can do your best to coach, but people are unpredictable and you can't control everything.”

Drinking and bad decisions often go hand-in-hand when it involves a hiring manager.

4. Confess to creeping
Due-diligence/creeping…semantics aren't important here, but the fact of the matter is that internet research is a must-do when preparing for a job interview. But keep the personal profile knowledge you acquire to yourself. “A candidate once started the interview by telling the interviewer that she looks much better in person than on her profile. The hiring manager wasn't flattered," says Marnie. 

What is perfectly acceptable to admit to, however, is noticing LinkedIn groups you’re both a part of or mutual connections you share. This ignites rapport, instead of the inclination to revisit privacy settings.

5. Getting too personal
You want to appear likable to the hiring manager (it's the #1 hiring factor, after all!),  but you need to find the balance between professional and personal. "A candidate once went for an interview at one of the banks; it went very well and the hiring manager walked her to the elevator to say goodbye, fully intending to make an offer,” explains Valerie, “While waiting for the elevator, the candidate thought it appropriate to comment on the hiring manager's gold crucifix - asking if she was Catholic.  The hiring manager found this highly inappropriate, and let us know that she would not make an offer based on this.”

Picking up on social cues isn’t a talent everyone can possess, so be sure to stick to your professional talents when meeting a hiring manager.

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