What the heck are you doing?

Give someone your undivided attention. It’s not old-fashioned to stop multi-tasking for a minute. Manners are what makes us civilised; and they also appear to be in decline.

Just last week I was talking with an Operations Manager friend of mine, who was hiring. He told me he couldn’t count the number of people striding into his office for an interview sipping coffee.

“If they’re going for a cool and nonchalant look, they’re failing” he said, before adding that his favourite line is “Oh did you bring one for me too?” –a line that at least caused several candidates to look a little sheepish. What the heck are these people doing? This is an interview. It’s not a chat over coffee if the other person doesn’t have a coffee. It is not a café. It is an office.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg according to search consultants who regularly cite the mobile phone as being the extra unwanted person in the room at interviews. Buzzing, beeping and at times answered by the candidate, the mobile phone is known for getting more attention than anyone else present.

Just recently, an executive search consultant revealed that a candidate for a Chief Financial Officer role, slouched in the door of this global organisation unshaven and wearing a tracksuit. This vision of motivational and professional splendour was made all the more complete with the addition of “pillow hair”. The consultant gave a sterling piece of advice to this would-be senior-level candidate: “Go home. Think about the way you are presenting yourself and we’ll forget this interview ever happened. If you’re still interested in the role in a week, give me a call”.

What the heck was he thinking?

Jobseekers. Heed this advice. Manners count. A lot.

  • Decision-makers don’t want to listen to your private telephone calls; they want your undivided attention at interview. You will survive without constant communication updates for an hour.
  • Decision-makers don’t want to see you slurp coffee and throw your empty cup into their wastepaper basket. It’s distracting and it’s rude. You will not die of thirst without a drink for an hour.
  • Decision-makers want to think that you considered a meeting as an exciting opportunity and that you dress up for important occasions. Not that you’ve remembered you had to take a detour on your morning jog.

Brush up your manners and look at yourself critically. Ask yourself. “What the heck have I been doing?”

20 Comments

  1. ofigennoe.ru

    Thank you for this valuable post. It changed my way

    Reply
  2. ofigennoe.ru

    Thank you for this valuable post. It changed my way

    Reply
  3. Lynn M

    Wow, Gayle, what a great post! Maybe people “are thinking” that they are somehow more respected in society with their coffee and blackberry/cell phone or robot-looking bluetooth apparrel. Yet, the one of the top things decision-makers are looking for is someone who WANTS the job and sees it as a top priority (not the coffee, not the text, not the phone call). There used to be something known as “appropriate” – you dress and act appropriate to the situation. Turn the situation around: you’re having dinner with a relative you haven’t seen in a long time…do you bring your laptop and opening it up in front of their face on the restaurant table and start working while you’re catching up with them? No, of course not…so why would you bring your social accessories with you on an interview?
    Thanks. Loved it. Hope people heed it.

    Reply
  4. Lynn M

    Wow, Gayle, what a great post! Maybe people “are thinking” that they are somehow more respected in society with their coffee and blackberry/cell phone or robot-looking bluetooth apparrel. Yet, the one of the top things decision-makers are looking for is someone who WANTS the job and sees it as a top priority (not the coffee, not the text, not the phone call). There used to be something known as “appropriate” – you dress and act appropriate to the situation. Turn the situation around: you’re having dinner with a relative you haven’t seen in a long time…do you bring your laptop and opening it up in front of their face on the restaurant table and start working while you’re catching up with them? No, of course not…so why would you bring your social accessories with you on an interview?
    Thanks. Loved it. Hope people heed it.

    Reply
  5. class factotum

    1. In response to my post about Birkenstocks, a friend wrote, “The founder of my company is at least a billionaire. When he travels, he just carries a briefcase for his computer, wears jeans and a t-shirt, and Birkenstocks (with socks).”

    That’s just tacky. It’s a “screw-you” to the world: “I’m so rich that I don’t care how I look.”

    That may be true, but it is possible to be comfortable and well groomed.

    2. My aunt and uncle own and run a commercial stables. People will show up for a one-hour horse ride with huge bottles of water, which makes my uncle roll his eyes. “They’re not going to dehydrate to death in an hour,” he says.

    Reply
  6. class factotum

    1. In response to my post about Birkenstocks, a friend wrote, “The founder of my company is at least a billionaire. When he travels, he just carries a briefcase for his computer, wears jeans and a t-shirt, and Birkenstocks (with socks).”

    That’s just tacky. It’s a “screw-you” to the world: “I’m so rich that I don’t care how I look.”

    That may be true, but it is possible to be comfortable and well groomed.

    2. My aunt and uncle own and run a commercial stables. People will show up for a one-hour horse ride with huge bottles of water, which makes my uncle roll his eyes. “They’re not going to dehydrate to death in an hour,” he says.

    Reply
  7. Stuart

    I can imagine seeing a tweet

    “Interview not going well. Interviewer seems really annoyed and keeps looking at my phone.”

    🙂

    Reply
  8. Stuart

    I can imagine seeing a tweet

    “Interview not going well. Interviewer seems really annoyed and keeps looking at my phone.”

    🙂

    Reply
  9. Jacki

    RT @GayleHoward: #Jobseekers interviews are not the place to text friends, eat lunch or sip the coffee you bought on the way http://tinyurl.com/ydlxq7u

    Reply
  10. Jacki

    RT @GayleHoward: #Jobseekers interviews are not the place to text friends, eat lunch or sip the coffee you bought on the way http://tinyurl.com/ydlxq7u

    Reply
  11. David Sickmiller

    It’s hard to disagree with the advice to give the interviewers your undivided attention, and it does strike me as odd to walk into another business carrying a coffee.  However, I expect the interviewer to offer water to the interviewee, and they’d be wise to accept — taking a drink allows more time to consider the answers to any tough questions.

    Reply

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About Gayle Howard

If you are interested in working with Gayle Howard—an executive resume writer, Certified Master Resume Writer, multi-award-winning resume writer, and Master LinkedIn profile writer, drop her a line now using the contact form at the link above. Gayle can help you get interviews for your dream job and bring the world of business to you by maximizing your exposure and connections on LinkedIn.