Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Annoying Co-Worker Chronicles - Ep5, Employment Prevention

Looking for a job is tough under good economic conditions. I'm told that these days it’s downright brutal out there. In this installment of “The Annoying Co-Worker Chronicles” we’ll examine three ways to assure that you never wind up the subject of one of these sorts of tomes. Unique strategies that are nearly assured to grenade any chance one might have at landing a position from which to annoy prospective co-workers.

Expressing yourself to the point of demonstrating bad judgment.

There is nothing inherently wrong with body art and modification. I have tattoos and once wore a stainless bead ring in each ear. The thing is that the tattoos are easily covered by anything even remotely considered “professional attire” and the rings pop out in seconds.

A few years ago I interviewed a young man for a customer facing position that showed up with a pair of stretched ear-lobes similar to the below along with a pierced lower lip and eyebrow.

His education and resume more than qualified him for the position or he wouldn’t have been called in for the interview, but the prospect of placing him in front of the variety of clients he’d be exposed to was just silly. The thing is that one has but a single chance to make a first impression and his was to walk in the door and effectively say, “I don’t give a rip about what you think nor do I care about your corporate culture. You need to accept ME!” Wrong POV kiddo.

The organization I was with at the time did business with companies that were far less formal than ourselves, and we also did business with the biggest of the big Fortune 500 suit/tie type corporations and government organizations as well. No matter how "open-minded" a company is, at some point they are going to attempt to do business with another company that isn't. At the end of the day, regardless of your role in a professional capacity you are being hired to in some way represent the company you are working for.

It just screams “bad judgment”. If I'm interviewing someone I expect that they’ve done their due diligence to learn about the standard of dress/appearance for the organization, if they consciously present themselves in a manner contrary to that I am led to believe that they don't care what the organization thinks or values. 

By extension, it's not a real stretch to imagine that they mightn't care what our clients think or value either.

The next two gems are too humorous not to share.

Many years ago the group that I worked in found ourselves in need of a new admin. The previous admin had left when she became pregnant and decided to be a stay at home mom. She left some big shoes to fill and we sought recommendations and placed an open req on the companies “careers” website.

We’d interviewed a number of applicants whose qualifications and work history demonstrated a good fit and had one left, we’ll call her “Kim”. Kim had an appointment for a series of 30min interviews with the people she’d be supporting starting at 10am. Since the interviews would spread across lunch we’d sent out for catering for the meetings to ensure everyone would be able to attend to their normal duties, conduct interviews and not have to miss lunch.

10am came and went and Kim was nowhere to be found. At 10:30am with no sign of Kim we called her number and got her home voicemail. At 11am we gave up. At noon, a full two hours after the interview was scheduled to begin Kim traipsed into our lobby and asked the receptionist to announce her arrival. My boss got wind of this and decided to have a little fun and perhaps pass on to Kim a valuable life lesson.

He went to the lobby and met her. She offered no explanation for being late until asked. I guess she thought it wasn’t a big deal, and when she was in the midst of explaining how she used public transportation and had missed a couple of connections her cellphone rang...her cellphone rang.

My boss told her that we’d have to move some things around and that he’d send for her when we were ready…and 30min passed, then an hour, then after two hours I went to the lobby. Kim was noticeably upset. I explained to her that we’d be unable to interview her today as we couldn’t rearrange our schedules. She asked, “Couldn’t you have told me that an hour ago instead of letting me sit here and wait?” To which I replied, “Sure I could have. But I decided to show you the same regard for your time that you showed for ours. Goodbye and good luck with your job search.”

The Modulus Of Elasticity Of An Apron String.

Same company as above but this time we were hiring for an entry level engineering position. The majority of applicants were new college grads so the interviews were based far more on personality and fit than on qualifications though some applicants did have Senior Projects that offered compelling insight into their abilities. One particular applicant among them did have an impressive list of previous internships and had worked on a Senior Project that was right in the wheelhouse for the position. On the day of the interview I strolled up to the lobby to bring him back and as one would expect I found a fresh faced young man in a slightly ill-fitting suit that was eager to get started. What I didn’t expect was his mother.

…(no, really, this actually happened!)…

He brought his MOTHER to the interview. Not to give him a ride mind you, they both expected to have her sit in on the interview. It was all I could do to resist an uncontrollable fit of laughter at the suggestion but I buckled down and did so. Biting my lip I managed get out a simple, “Why?”

I'd insert a hilarious Joan Crawford pic here but how many would get the gag?

His mother answered, “I want to make sure that he covers the important points of his education, ensure you don’t ask any unfair questions and see to it that the job offer is fair.” Again I struggled to not laugh out loud and nodded in reply to her and turned to the young “man” and explained to him. “Since you have no working experience in the field, a job interview such as this exists to determine how well you might fit in with the team, how you solve problems and how you respond to challenging inquiry. For future reference, having your Mother along on the interview precludes that process and doesn’t impress upon a potential employer that you are an independent thinker and self starter and frankly, calls into question your level of personal accountability.”

I told him that he had an impressive educational history and said that if HE’D like I would be happy to interview HIM for the position. His response was to look at his mother and SHE was incredulous in her reply, “I don’t think WE want to do it that way.” I felt a little bit bad for the kid and felt really bad when I finally lost it and laughed and told them that would not be possible and to have a nice day.

If you've got any good stories about blown interviews feel free to share..change names to protect the innocent of course...

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