Never chew gum…or anything else… during an interview

Imagine yourself as an Engineering Manager for a Fortune 100 corporation. You are about to walk into your office, where you expect to find waiting, a good prospect for the project engineering position you are trying to fill.  The Recruiting firm, which you have been working with, has informed you of the superb project management skills of this individual and of the high level of professionalism that he will undoubtedly bring to your Company. You are excited about the possibilities and look forward to meeting this person, having promised your VP that you would personally take care of the hiring for this position. 

As you enter your office, the front two legs of the guest chair in front of your desk hit the floor with a loud thump! The individual in the chair glances back for a brief moment then stands up to greet you. His bottom lip is bulging and the piercing aroma of wintergreen fills the air. Before he can shake your hand, he quickly places his Styrofoam “spit cup” on the edge of your desk and in the rush of things, knocks the half-full cup over.  Its contents slowly stream down the front of your desk. Guess what happens next…..That’s right… Interview over!  Although this candidate looked well qualified “on paper”, as evidenced by his resume, the hiring Manager, gave the disrespectful, unprofessional candidate a failing grade on “judgment”, which of course cost him the job!

Believe it or not, this actually happened!  The moral here is that when you are interviewing, you are not only representing yourself, having invested your own time in travel and preparation, but also the reputation of others.  In this case, it was the reputation of the Recruiter who was trying to open a door of opportunity for a candidate.

Taking a less-than-professional approach to a face to face interview is a direct insult to any hiring manager.  The manager has scheduled his own time and the time of his staff for your interview.  Don’t take chances on foolish mistakes. There will be a time to relax and “be yourself” after the interview.  During the interview stay focused on presenting yourself as the professional that you aspire to be and the professional others expect you to be. A skilled  Recruiter will help prepare you for success. All you have to do is listen and remain coach-able.  Follow the seasoned advice of your Recruiting Professional. 

Your goal should always be to get the job offer.  To ensure success, your total behavior must reflect integrity.  Your personal judgment calls, good or bad, will be evaluated during the interview.  The hiring authority will expect to see similar behavior when you are actually on the job site.   So do your best. Consider this:  Until you actually get the job offer, you may not even realize the true potential of the opportunity.  So for now, “chew on this little lesson” and leave your gum and anything else at home.