You did what? Job Seeker and Interview #Fails

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Few things make you feel as vulnerable as a job search. You can invest many hours and dollars into creating a marketable resume, leverage your connections to produce excellent networking opportunities and fine tune your interviewing skills; yet you may still find yourself waiting on pins and needles for someone else to decide your future. For some, the wait might be less painful. You are confident in your ability to demonstrate your differentiators and value proposition. For others, the entire exercise of job searching is wrought with stress and, unfortunately, bad decisions.

Throughout my 17 years in recruiting I have encountered quite a few job search and interviewing “fails”. While some of these might seem like obvious gaffes, others were simple examples of good professional decision making gone wrong. Ultimately, what you as the job seeker need to remember is that you are still “interviewing” for the job, looking to prove that you can do what you committed to during the formal interviews, for at least 60-90 days after you start the new position!

Case and point, here are a few Job Seeker Fails to avoid (believe it or not, 100% actually happened).

1. Assuming the final interview is simply a “rubber stamp”. If, after completing 5 interviews with the likes of HR, several VPs, the CEO and a board member, you are told the final interview is a simply “meet and greet”, don’t dismiss its importance. Some companies want to test your resolve and commitment to the job by observing how you conduct yourself when your guard is down. At no matter what, do not arrive at your final interview, with tobacco in your lip, and a Pepsi can as your spittoon! Likewise, showing up for your final interview too drunk to stand up without relying on the table, bringing your own “refreshments” in a non-descript cup, probably won’t land you that dream job. In fact, I guarantee, it will not end well for you.

2. Renegotiating your compensation for the wrong reasons. I am a big proponent of seeking the compensation you deserve. It might seem like most companies are looking to bring in the best people for the least amount of money; but that is not always the case. If you are able to demonstrate how the value of your skillsis higher than the suggested compensation, by all means, make the sale and those doing the hiring will generally do the listening. However, returning to the hiring manager and asking for an increase in compensation simply because your spouse makes more money than you… Not recommended.

3. Sharing your recent weekend on social media. Once you have landed the job, you are still “interviewing”. Simply put, employers are expecting that you will validate your skills and culture fit in the first few months, by going the extra mile, taking on more than you are asked to do, and being on your best behavior. Calling the boss to let her know you will be coming in late on Monday because you aren’t feeling well – 2 weeks after starting your new job – only to arrive in the office and proceed to show your co-workers your pics from your all-night binge in Tijuana, is probably not going to score many points. Once again, chances are, this is not going to end well.

4. Feeling a little too “at home” at the office. Office culture ranks fairly high on most job seekers’ list of “demands”. The days of standing around the water cooler might be over, but offices without walls, communal break areas and office gyms are an excellent way for companies to make the office a more comfortable home-away-from-home. However, no matter how “homey” the second floor might be, it is not, in fact, your home. Therefore, taking a 6 minute phone call from a family member during a staff meeting, napping on your desk, and leaving the office in the middle of the day because you feel like it’s been a “long week” – only 1 week into your new job – are not choices we would endorse.

Every job seeker wants to put her best foot forward and find the perfect role with a company that supports work/life balance, provides an opportunity for growth and equips its employees with the necessary tools and training to succeed. There’s a lot of pressure to “get it right” ideally landing a long term, lucrative position that will both challenge and engage you. Just remember, taking your interview or new position for granted is never a good idea, and if you’re not careful, your activities may just land you back in the unemployment line.

About the Authors

Ken Schmitt is the President and Founder of TurningPoint Executive Search and the Sales Leadership Alliance. Specializing in placing sales, marketing and operations professionals across the country, Ken’s 16 years of recruiting experience have equipped him with the knowledge to serve as a thought partner to his clients for all recruiting, hiring and human capital-related initiatives. Ken sits on the board of Junior Achievement, the American Marketing Association, the San Diego HR Roundtable and is an Advisory Board Member for San Diego Sports Innovators (SDSI).

Vicky Willenberg has served as the Social Media Manager for TurningPoint since 2011. In 2014, she was elevated to Digital Marketing Manager, broadening her participation across all things digital for the firm. A former teacher with a Masters in Education, Vicky is an active and published blogger at The Pursuit of Normal and a marketing professional. She has her finger on the pulse of the latest trends in the recruiting, hiring and leadership sectors.

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