People and Projects

Jumping to judgement could lead to missed opportunities

I recently read a blog, “Interviewing with a Recruiter – It’s a Real Interview” by Angela Roberge, a recruiter with Accurate Staffing. In the blog, Roberge expresses her frustration with interviewees who show up ill-prepared and describes a cut-and-dry philosophy of dismissing the candidate when such a thing happens. While I appreciate her no-fuss attitude, I prefer a different approach.

I do agree that you should treat the interview with a recruiter as an actual interview, but sometimes people need help. Sometimes people are completely oblivious to their surroundings or make simple mistakes and just need some very direct feedback.

For instance, I brought an individual into our office for a prescreening interview and when I met him in the lobby I almost laughed out loud. For context, he was interviewing for a warehouse manager position to drive a hi-lo and manage a small team. On paper, he was very qualified and had 10 years of previous relatable experience. I went out to our lobby to grab him and walk him back to one of our interviewing rooms, offered him a seat and sat down across from him. I looked him directly in the eyes and I said, “Listen before we start this interview I have to address something.” I asked him to explain to me why he chose to wear the shirt he was wearing. Instantly, he looked down, then looked right back at me and said “Oh my god, I can’t believe I wore this. I have a polo in the car that I was supposed to switch out before I walked up here.”

His shirt read “Smoke Weed Every Day” with a huge pot leaf on the front. I said “You understand why this is a concern for me right? You have to submit a drug test if you are offered the job and the actual interview would be in two days.” He said that it was an old shirt and he that he sweats a lot so didn’t want to wear his polo on the drive-in and have it be awkwardly wet under the pits. I jokingly said, “I totally get that, but I think that would’ve been better than wearing the shirt you currently have on.”

After moving on from the initial interaction we went on to have a great interview and he was extremely professional (minus the shirt). He was very charismatic, clean-cut, had great eye contact and was surprisingly charming. I knew that he would get the job if I just helped smooth out some of the bumps. After coaching him on a few things, he ended the interview by saying, “Thank you for calling me out on the shirt, that is a mistake I will never make again.” He went on to get the job and live happily ever after.

The point I am trying to make is that if you are quick to write people off you may miss out on a lot of talent. As a recruiter, it’s part of the job to educate, coach, and help navigate people through one of the most intimidating things people do: interview for a job. Understanding that not every person’s situation is the same and many need help getting interviews ready is part of being a good recruiter. People make mistakes and are not perfect, it doesn’t mean we need to write them off.

Contributed by Kelly O’Brien, business development manager for the EV Group.