Recruiters see it all during the interview process, from impressive candidates who wow them, to others who do mind-boggling things that quickly eliminates them from the job search. Case in point, one recruiter I know mentioned how a job seeker, in the middle of the interview, suddenly removed her cigarette pack from her bra and put it in her purse. Another recruiter tweeted how during the middle of an interview, a woman started going into labor; while one recruiter referenced how one male job seeker flat out belched right before yawning in an interview.
We can understand a woman going into labor, but the others? Unacceptable.
At the same time, job seekers hear some wacky things from recruiters, too. Like one project manager who said her address and place of residence played a role in her getting judged inappropriately by the recruiter. Here is her story:
"I have been out of work for a few years. I live in Edina and a recruiter told me that I probably didn't even need the job because I lived in Edina and was wealthy. This made me very upset. I am not wealthy, I need a job! Why do recruiters stereotype or label us all before even considering our skills?"
Good question. while not all job seekers lack interview etiquette like the examples above, not all recruiters judge candidates by where they live, or do they simply judge candidates for the wrong reason. What's especially alarming was, this was in the interview situation where the recruiter had already determined the person’s skills were at least a match and they wanted to bring this person in to take the next step in the process.
"Please be aware that not all recruiters are the same, and as you don’t want us to stereotype job seekers, please don’t put us all in the same boat either," says Erica Edgar, a recruiter with CorTalent (cor3talent.com), a Twin Cities-based recruiting and staffing firm.
That recruiters behavior was flat out a prime example of poor taste and doesn’t reflect how most professionals will assess your skills, says Jennifer Brigham, a 30-year recruiting veteran and VP at SEEK Careers/Staffing (SEEKCareers.com).
"While that specific comment is not likely to come up again, you should be prepared to turn any conversation to instead focus on the skills and abilities you bring to the job," says Brigham. "If you feel the interview or conversation veering into areas that are “labeling” you, be prepared to politely steer the conversation to your job abilities."
Your neighborhood isn’t reason enough for anyone to dismiss your abilities, says Brigham.
"Make sure that your resume, your desired job objective, and your specific talents, skills and abilities are what you focus on. Your gap in employment will also need explaining, and make sure when you do so, you don’t mention personal problems, bemoan the economy, or anything that doesn’t specifically relate to your skills."
Focus on what you did do during those few years you weren’t employed, in a way that is strictly professional and job related. Don’t try to hide or lie about a big employment gap, but be prepared to put a recruiter’s mind at ease regarding your availability and value now.
For example, if you chose to be off work to stay home and raise your family, you can mention that now your family is more self-sufficient, you are entering the workforce full time. You have school transportation, day care, and other obligations handled (no need to detail), and you have proven, on past jobs, to be 100% reliable.
In this case, this recruiter/company certainly wasn't right for this job seeker. And that happens. Recruiters interview quirky job seekers and job seekers sometimes meet quirky recruiters. That just proves not every interview means it's a match.
"I believe everyone has experience and skills that can be a fit for certain jobs, but that doesn’t mean that you are a fit for every job that crosses our desk," says Edgar. "At CorTalent we feel it is important to find the right fit, for both the employee and employer, and this can take time."
Remember, the interview is a chance for both sides to get to know each other. Job seekers should ask questions to make sure the company is a match. They shouldn't have to ask questions about where they live and in this case, the job seeker would be best served saying "thank you for your time" and moving on.