Q: I am a manager of a small IT (information technology) team. I am disgusted at how unprofessional many candidates are when supposedly they are so very interested in a new job. Candidates don't dress appropriately. All of their answers are filled with "you know" or "like" or other slang terms. I had one candidate refer to me as "dude" in our interview. Here I am ready to hire and I can't find anyone that understands basic professional decorum. No one sends a grammatically correct thank-you note. And their follow-up is non-existent. And I won't even mention the texting, checking their phones, etc. during breaks between interviews. Do you see this as frequently as I do? I don't feel it is my job to coach candidates on how to behave professionally.
P.S. I often post this column on my office door to share with my team members.
A: I can sense your frustration as a hiring manager. You share many valid concerns, many of which I have heard before. I have personally witnessed some of these concerns as well. Let me try to offer some (hopefully helpful) advice to these candidates.
1. Dress the part and then some. What do I mean? Dress NOT for the role for which you are interviewing. Dress how the hiring manager dresses. It is better to be over-dressed than under-dressed. No wrinkly shirts or pants. Good hygiene. Get a haircut. Brush your teeth. Look professional, presentable and enthusiastic.
2. Have a trusted colleague or family member ask you sample interview questions. Be careful of the crutches many of us use. The "you know" is a common one. Especially when nervous, these phrases seem to slip out more frequently. "Dude" is definitely not a noun that should be used to address a hiring manager, ever.
3. Thank-you notes are a must. Make sure that the note is polished and crisp. In some companies, an emailed thank-you note is fine. For more formal companies, I would suggest a type-written mailed thank-you note.
4. Keep your phone out of sight and silent. No one should even know you have a phone with you.
5. Before ending an interviewing (whether in-person or on the phone), a candidate should always ask about follow-up. An example: "Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me today about the IT Specialist role. I am very interested in this role. What are the next steps? How should I follow-up with you?"
Good luck with your future hiring!
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Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton. She works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience.
Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.
Cindy Atoji Keene is a freelance journalist with more than 25 years experience. E-mail her directly here.
Peter Post is the author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business." Email questions about business etiquette to him directly here.
Stu Coleman, a partner and general manager at WinterWyman, manages the firm's Financial Contracting division, and provides strategic staffing services to Boston-area organizations needing Accounting and Finance workforce solutions and contract talent.
Tracy Cashman is a partner and the general manager of the Information Technology search division at WinterWyman. She has 20 years of experience partnering with clients in the Boston area to conduct technology searches in a wide variety of industries and technology.
Paul Hellman is the founder of Express Potential, which specializes in executive communication skills. He consults and speaks internationally on how to capture attention & influence others. Email him directly here.