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!