By Rich Figel
While putting together the first two Career Changers TV shows, co-producer Ron Darby and I asked employers and staffing firm owners what bugged them most about candidates who came in for job interviews. Frankly, I was surprised to hear how ill-prepared applicants were!
Here's some recurring themes:
• Candidates who did no research on company they were interviewing for.
• Sloppy appearance. Chewing gum or answering cell phones during interview. Bad body language. Failure to make eye contact.
• Resumes that were poorly written or not tailored to job being applied for.
• Lack of passion in candidate or interest in company they were applying to. Employers want people who ask good questions and show they really want the job.
I also heard complaints from staffing firms about job applicants who brought their entire family with them to interviews and left them sitting in the reception area. One even brought their dog.
Some stories were funny. Signe Godfrey, president of Olsten Staffing, chuckled when she recalled how a job-seeker wrote "911" for her Emergency Contact number on the application form.
Many of the resume and interview tips we put on the show and our website seem like common sense, or things that should be taught in high school and college. But apparently they aren't -- at least not in public schools.
However, at job-oriented schools such as Heald College (one of our sponsors), they actually devote class time to resume writing, and do mock interviews prior to graduation. The faculty and Career Services counselors coach students on how to dress, act professionally, and do the little things like sending a "thank you" note after the interview...
Which is another employer pet peeve: applicants who don't follow up after the interview aren't considered to be very interested in the job, and that counts as a mark against them.
So any employers or HR people out there who have a story to share? Also, do you think rude behavior -- answering cell phones, chewing gum during interviews -- is mostly a generational thing?