Category Archives: Job Search Blog

…CBD oil and your employment drug test

Well, it was bound to happen somewhere along the line. One of our candidates gets a job offer and is told he needs to take a drug test. No problem, he’s 51 years old, three children, one in college, one in high school and one just getting ready to go to high school. He has a stable family, a stable employment background and an excellent track record.

After he takes the drug test, one day later the drug testing company calls him and tells him that he tested positive for a very small minute amount of marijuana. He laughs and tells them that they must have been confused with someone else. They explained to him that it was an extremely minute amount, but nonetheless was there. Then he remembers! He’s been using CBD oil for his sore joints and it has been working very well. He had absolutely no idea that it would show up… or at least a trace of THC…would show up in the test. (CBD oil is derived from hemp and can have very small amount of tetrahydrocannabinol or THC… the same chemical that comes from marijuana.) The drug testing organization explain all this to him.

Now, our client believes him. In fact, even the drug testing organization says that a false positive can result from the use of CBD oil. The hiring authority and even her boss not only researched the issue, but have gone to bat for the candidate at corporate. The problem is that corporate’s HR policy states that the company simply can’t hire someone who has failed a drug test. The reasons don’t seem to matter. The candidate has suggested to them that he take another test with more sophisticated testing tools, but so far, the company is still “thinking” about what they should do. (According to the research, older drug testing equipment doesn’t pick up the different types of things that might appear to be THC, but aren’t.)

We don’t know what’s going to happen. The hiring authority, her boss as well as the candidate, are beside themselves. Corporate, especially HR, probably doesn’t care at all. From what we understand, the RVP is appealing to the CEO to try to allow exceptions to the company policy. (I wonder what this company does when they try to hire candidates in California?)

Unfortunately, this whole thing is a mess. They’ve told the candidate that he can’t start working until they figure the whole thing out. It’s really sad because the candidate passed up two other excellent opportunities to go to work for our client.

There are a number of articles on the Internet about this kind of effect with CBD oil. Companies are going to have to start using the right kind of drug testing contractors but also make allowances for this kind of thing. If you’re a candidate, quit using CBD oil while you are looking for a job. Our candidate was totally shocked by the whole situation and had no idea that any of this could happen.

Learn from the other guy’s experience.

 

….your potential employer… doubt uncertainty and fear

Every candidate looking for a job should be aware of just how darned afraid of making a mistake companies are… especially if they’ve had problems with a particular position they are trying to replace.

One of our clients is a $200 million services firm… not real big not real small… over the last two years they had two very, very unsuccessful first line managers in their Dallas office… the first one was a local guy who was hurriedly hired by a regional director who, in hindsight, was leaving the company and didn’t really care who he hired… after that guy failed, the new regional director, out of California, tried to hire a new manager using his own “network” … we spoke to the regional director a year ago, he claimed that his company was so good that they didn’t need to pay a fee to our organization and they had plenty of excellent candidates for the job… they ended up hiring a candidate who they moved from the West Coast because,  they told us, “there are no real good managers in Texas”…(oh,brother)

Unfortunately, the poor new manager who moved here from California wasn’t given much time to turn the Dallas district around… he knew nothing about North Texas… didn’t even know where LBJ was and probably didn’t even know who LBJ was… companies don’t really know how treacherous it is to move a manager here, who has no idea about the area and expect results quickly… needless to say, it didn’t work out.

The regional director out of California was so “desperate” to find a good candidate this time, he not only used his own “network”  but  allowed us to refer a number of very qualified candidates…along with saying that he was so surprised that we could come up with such quality candidates who were not in his “network”… (duh!… I mean, we are here and he is in California… if we couldn’t come up with better candidates than he would know, being from California, we wouldn’t have survived since 1952…)

We found them an absolutely stellar candidate and… and this is important to know… since they had  made such a poor decisions over the last two years they decided that to make sure this was the “right”  candidate they would put him through a number of interviews… and this is where it gets so rather absurd.

Keep in mind this is a first level managers job… certainly an important job and one that would usually require one, two or maybe even three people to interview the candidate… but the past hires had been such debacles they decided they wanted to be “sure”… so after two interviews with the regional director they flew the candidate to the home office… he spent all day interviewing with CEO, the vice president of human resources, the vice president of services, the vice president of marketing, and another vice president of operations who even stated to the candidate that he didn’t know why he was interviewing a candidate, but since he was asked he would oblige… and, oh yeah there was another interview with another vice president whose role the candidate still isn’t quite sure of… at any rate, he went through eight hours of interviewing with six senior managers.

They all seem to think that the candidate is excellent so noooooooooooooooow they are going to send him to California next week for one last interview with another VP … all this for a first line managers job… crazy!

When companies make mistakes in hiring they do all kinds of things to protect themselves the next time around… this gross number of interviews for one candidate really isn’t going to make their decision any better… it’s absurd… but saying so isn’t going to change their approach… if you’re a candidate looking for a job you need to be aware that the people who are interviewing you… especially if they have made a number of mistakes… are going to do everything including a proctology exam to be sure they don’t make the mistake… it isn’t going to do any good to complain about this… it isn’t going to change… fortunately our candidate has been very understanding and is rather amused by the whole thing… he’s a good natured guy and is going to make them a hell of a manager.

Doubt, uncertainty and fear!

…..Sad, unfortunate reasons for not hiring good candidates… Hiring managers!!! please listen up!!

Some of you are going to read this and think, “Tony, you are all wet..these are perfectly good reasons NOT to hire someone. They are a reflection of how the candidate will do in the job.”

Just this week we had candidates eliminated at the initial interview for these reasons: (these were not kids… They were pretty senior, experienced professionals)

  • He put his phone on the desk next to him and even though it was turned to silent, it kept vibrating.
  • The candidate was 20 minutes late to the interview, even though it was raining and she was given the wrong suite number
  • The candidate’s phone goes off in her purse during the interview
  • The candidate couldn’t remember what he earned five years ago
  • The (engineering candidate) wrote a very poor resume

Well, there were probably a lot of these kinds of things with lots of other candidates. Unfortunately, interviewing and hiring authorities have a tendency to come to conclusions about candidates and their abilities to be good employees based on very small and often, very few things. Each one of these candidates was eliminated because of these things they did.

Most of these folks were experienced professionals. Okay, maybe they are not real good at interviewing, or they simply make mistakes. I submit to you that these are not good reasons for

them to get eliminated as candidates. Maybe their interviewing capabilities aren’t so good, but we are trying to hire professionals that are going to help us run our business. We aren’t hiring professional interviewers.

I know these kinds of things will annoy most people that are doing the interviewing. They annoy me when I’m interviewing. But it isn’t smart to judge the candidate’s ability to do a job or their track record based on mistakes like these. In most all of these cases, the interviewing/hiring authority totally dismissed the candidate after these things happened.

Maybe our guard should be up when things like this happen. But to totally dismiss the candidate because of these kinds of things is not only unfair, it’s just not smart. So, let’s all give candidates the benefit of the doubt when it comes to things like this. Let’s analyze their track record, find out how they have performed in the past. Let’s all dig deep into their background, find out their successes and failures, what they can or can’t do for us.

(The engineer graduated from A&M with a 4.0 average in engineering. He had 10 solid years of experience with one firm and had been promoted three times. So, in the eyes of one person he’s a lousy resume writer, but an excellent engineer.)

 

…the difference between the #1 manager and the #4 manager

One of our clients has six managers around the country. Two of them reside in Dallas. One of them manages Dallas and an eastern part of the United States and another manages part of Dallas and some of the Western part of the United States.. Other managers managed  1/6 of the country each.  It’s really interesting to see the comparison between the two managers here in Dallas…the #1 rankied manager in the country and the#4 ranked manager in the country.

Now I’m quite sure that there are probably lots of differences between these two people, but one of them became very clear last week. It turns out that the difference in the revenue production of the #1 manager’s team is almost $7 million a year more than the #4 managers team. each of them manage six people and, interestingly enough the #4 ranked manager has been with the company for years longer than her #1 ranked peer.

But here is one, very interesting observation. We have an excellent candidate referred to us who works in the space that both of these managers and their company do. As we do on a daily basis, will we get an excellent candidate, we call managers we’ve worked with before, inform them of a particular candidate’s availability and encourage them to interview the candidate. It just so happened that we contacted the #4 ranked manager in the country about this stellar candidate and she says, “well, I don’t really have an opening in the company, so I wouldn’t be interested in interviewing him.”

we then call the #1 ranked manager in the country about the same candidate, and he says, “I make it a practice to interview any good candidate at any time. I never know when I’m going to have an opening and if the candidate is strong enough I can always replace my weakest link.”

our candidate starts work for the #1 ranked manager in the country on January 2. The candidate was so good the hiring manageer fired his weakest link (… the guy had been underperforming for at least one quarter) and hired our candidate.

Now you know  one of the different ways of doing things a #1 ranked manager does that other managers don’t. This guy interviews any great candidate we have when they come along. He’s been doing it that way for the last  six years that we’ve worked with him and this is the first time that he has  hired anybody this way. He doesn’t make it a habit of  indiscriminately firing people, but he knows he should be interviewing excellent candidates whenever they come along. It ain’t hard and it ain’t complicated. sometimes he spends 15 or 20 minutes with the candidate and sometimes he hires them.

 

….hey…you all that are hiring…lisssen up!

Three times this week, I had three hiring managers literally yell at me because they were pissed. The candidate they thought they were going to hire from us took other jobs. And I’m just one guy of 20 recruiters. Five of my other associates claimed the same thing. The hiring authorities were actually mad at us because the candidates decided to take other positions.

One of these outfits literally interviews the candidate over a four-week period of time putting her through a “gauntlet” of all kinds of hoops like having her make a presentation to a group of people in their company (in spite of the fact that she had literally a 20 year track record of outstanding experience with all kinds of awards and promotions. And they want to see how she presents? ErrrVey!). “Well, we have to do that with all of our candidates!”, the VP told me. While they were evaluating her presentation skills, one of our other clients interviewed her three times and hired her in a matter of two days. The first client was mad as hell.

We got another one of our candidates’ three offers and he took the one he thought was best for him. One of the clients we presented him to was furious when the candidate took one of the other offers. He literally told us that he thought we should have presented the candidate to him and waited until he made a decision about the candidate before we presented the candidate to anyone else. He was serious.

I understand back during the recession when folks weren’t hiring very many people and hiring organizations really had nothing else to do but to come up with some kinds of cockamamie processes and procedures to make sure that they “don’t make a mistake” in hiring. The blunt truth is that all of those procedures really don’t keep a company from making a mistake in hiring. I’ve seen just as many hiring “mistakes” made with very short one or two interview processes as I have with ones that carry-on for three or four weeks and involve a whole bunch of people. The number of people involved in the interviewing process does not protect anyone from making a mistake in hiring.

The market is hot! We’re having a harder time finding good quality candidates and we have to assume that every time we get a candidate an offer here she is going to get two or three others. I know our clients think that when we tell them they need to move the hiring process along as fast as they can, that what we say is just “recruiter pressure” and “recruiter speak” just so we can get them to decide on hiring our candidate. It wouldn’t surprise me if all of those clients that my associates and I had been upset with thought the same thing… “pushy recruiters. All they want to do is get someone hired. Well, they won’t push me around. We will hire on our own sweet time, because we have a p-r-o-c-e-s-e-s-s…And our process is very important.”

For your own good, if you are looking for quality candidates, everyone else is also. Please, do yourself a favor and make your hiring process short, efficient, and mindful. Please don’t yell at us when the candidate you want to hire takes another job. We’re trying to w

…i didn’t cause it, I can’t change it and I can’t cure it

this is one of the many mantras of Alcoholics Anonymous and it applies to many of the aspects of, especially, a job seekers emotional reaction to much of the rejection and refusal they receive in their quest. It’s so important to remember this mantra, because it reminds the job seeker what they can and can’t control.

Here are some of the things they don’t cause, they can’t change and they can’t cure:

  • Knowing that they are very qualified to perform on a job… If they can get the interview.
  • Not being able to get their resume read by people who would really understand.
  • Not being able to get an interview, even though they tried everything they can.
  • Not hearing anything From a prospective employer after applying.
  • Being told they would get in an interview and then never hearing from the company
  • being told they are a “great” candidate and then never hearing from the company
  • being told that they are “in strong consideration,” and never hearing anymore
  • being told they would be brought back as a “finalist” and then hearing nothing
  • being told they would receive an offer and then never hearing anything from the firm

Remember, as a job seeker you can only control your actions and your emotions. If you do your best to get lots of interviews and try to get into as many interviewing cycles as you possibly can, you won’t have to worry about what you can’t control or influence. Focus on the things that you can cause that you can change And that you can cure.

 

…”God is great…beer is good…and people are crazy!” …Billy Currinngton

I love this song and I find myself humming it or singing it quite often. It expresses to a T the kind of things that we see on a weekly basis in our company. Candidates want to know why they don’t get hired… Just this week we had in our organization:

  • a female candidate use the F bomb in an interview
  • the candidate showed up 20 minutes late for an interview, and never apologized or even acknowledged it
  • a candidate who overwhelmed the client we sent him to with his cologne
  • a candidate immediately sat down at the interview with a notebook, and before the employer could say anything started asking a series of questions like: “How much does this job pay… What are the hours… Can you describe the benefits…and can I work from home?” And when we asked him after the interview where he came up with these questions, he said that he read it in an interviewing book.
  • a candidate who, after seven minutes of waiting, announced to the admin that she was tired of waiting and left the interview
  • a candidate who stood up in the middle of an interview with the hiring authority and stated that he was “overqualified” for the job and walked out
  • the candidate who claims that he just didn’t have time to look on the internet to look up the company and he really knew nothing about them

Now, please remember that not all of our candidates are really this challenged. Our company gets close to 100 people a week an interview. So, when you consider the low ratio of stupid things that people do, these things may not have that much of an impact. But it’s just that these kinds of ridiculous things happen daily and it keeps candidates from getting hired.

Now, before you jump to any conclusions that it’s always the candidate who screws up the interview, let me share with you some of the things that employers did this week in interviewing some of our candidates:

  • One of our illustrious clients asked the candidate, “Just exactly what are you interviewing for?”
  • Another one spent 10 minutes telling the candidate why you would want to work at the company
  • Another hiring authority told one of our candidates that he was the 15th candidate that he and interviewed and that his company really didn’t know what they were looking for
  • One hiring authority asked the candidate how old she was
  • Another hiring authority told the candidate he was just too old to be working in a place like that…that he wouldn’t fit in culturally.
  • Another hiring authority was 45 minutes late for the interview and told the candidate that he (the employer) had “a hard stop in 10 minutes.”

People are crazy!

 

 

….the “team interview”…(for the employer)…”if you were an animal, what would you be

“Well, Tony, we’d like to have your candidate in for the ‘team interview.’ We always have the ‘team’ interview the candidate we think we’d like to hire to make sure that everybody will get along.”… kumbaya!

Unequivocally and indubitably, this is the biggest crock of crap that I hear as a recruiter. What this really says is, “I really don’t have the guts or the courage to make a decision on my own, by myself, as an intelligent, wise businessperson or leader. I need to rely on the opinions of other people to help make a decision that I ought to be making by myself.”

Now the truth is, I really never hear this above statement. What I hear is, “Well, we like the group to help out here, because, you know, they all have to get along, you know, they all have to be together, you know, so, we think it’s a good idea that the ‘team’ get a chance to decide whether or not they like them and whether or not they can live with them.” It’s the most exorbitant form of passing the buck that there is in business. It provides a hiring authority the chance to spread the decision around the company so that if the decision to hire someone doesn’t work out, the hiring authority can always claim that the ‘team’ helped make the decision and they were just as poor at the decision as I was.”

Now, don’t let me be taken totally out of context. It is not a bad idea to have one or more people in the company interview a candidate. I’ve always recommended, however, that it should never be more than three people (including the hiring authority) and those people should only be folks whose livelihood depends on the performance of the person being hired. But I do not recommend a group.

The major problem with the group interview setting is that all of the people in the group are just as concerned about being “impressive” with the peers in the group as they are in trying to qualify the candidate. The interview becomes political. People are more concerned about how they appear to each other than they are about the qualifications of the candidate. This puts a candidate in even more of an awkward position. There are two levels of conversations going on.

The group interview becomes a “popularity” contest rather than its purpose of qualifying a candidate’s ability to do a job. If you’d like to find out what all of the people or any of the people in your organization might think of the candidate (which is again, kind of silly unless their livelihood depends on this person) set up one-on-one meetings with the candidate and all of the individuals you wish them to speak with. It’s really simple.

Twice last week our organization referred two excellent candidates to two clients with very hard-to-fill opportunities. One of these organizations has been trying to find the right person for almost four months. The hiring manager in the “four months old” situation was absolutely thrilled with the candidate. He told us that his search was over and he was absolutely thrilled with the candidate we had referred to him. But, he explained that he had to follow company protocol and have the candidate interview with “the team.” The team couldn’t convene for a one-week period of time. When “the team” finally got together to meet the candidate, one of the members’ cell phones went off three times during the interview and one of the team members had to leave the meeting with the candidate early. The feedback to the hiring authority was that “the team” just wasn’t quite sure of the candidate. As of Friday, the hiring authority was so frustrated he couldn’t see straight.

The second situation involved a candidate who is a 20 year veteran of her profession. Again, the hiring manager was absolutely thrilled with her, but “the team” had to meet with her. “The team” consisted of two relatively senior people and one millennial. According to the candidate, the interview went reasonably well until the millennial, addressing a 20 year veteran, asked her, “If you were an animal, what would you be?” The candidate was so surprised, she started to laugh and said she just didn’t know what to say. After a long pause, she said she just couldn’t think of anything. Needless to say, our candidate didn’t pass the test with “the team.” The hiring manager just didn’t know what to do, so he did nothing at all.

These thoughts probably won’t make any difference with organizations that think “the team” interview is really important. I’ve been doing this since 1973 and I’m absolutely certain that the relegation of a hiring decision to “a team” does not make a better hire.

…..more on body language

Last time, we discussed candidate body language and why it is important in the interviewing process. We discussed posture, focus and the hand shake. Today we will finish our discussion of this important subject.

Demonstrate confidence, openness and enthusiasm with correct hand gestures and arm positioning. The way your arms are positioned says a lot about your state of mind and attitude. The right hand gestures convey much of what you are trying to convey to the interviewer. Let your hands help you express feelings, needs and convictions, without going over-the-top.

There are three categories of hand gestures. “Emblematic” gestures are a signal of unspoken, mutually understood meaning, such as raising the fingers to the lips to imply “quiet”. “Pacifier” gestures, such as burying the head in the hands, are used to relieve stress.

The gestures you want to use in an interview are the “Illustrative” gestures. These gestures develop simultaneous speech and help the speaker find the right words to make the messages and thoughts more emphatic and precise.

There are several types of hand and arm gestures that often say more than words ever can. Supine palms, facing up, imply a lack of something that the speaker needs or is requesting. Supine at a 45° tilt imply candor and openness. Prone palms, facing down, signal power and certainty. The Steeple, fingers intertwined with the index fingers outstretched and touching, express confidence and expertise. The “fig leaf”, with hands grasped together in front of the groin, communicates a state of being closed-off and distrusting.

Rigid hands can emphasize certain, important words. Hiding the hands can come across as you being untrustworthy. Hands touching the face, head, or hair impart nervousness, vulnerability or tentativeness.

Arm gestures above your shoulders broadcast a person being erratic and overly emotional. Arms held at waist height, however, express centeredness and composure. Keep your arms open as a sign of inclusion. Arms crossed over your chest say you’re closed-off, unapproachable and defensive.

Place your hands on the table, if you are sitting at one, or on your lap in front of you. Don’t keep your hands in your lap or sitting on the table through the entire interview. You will come across unenthusiastic. Use your Illustrative hand gestures.

Keep your hands at chest-level or below and use moderate arm movements to help you express yourself.
If you flail your arms about while speaking, you will look uncontrollable, unbelievable and powerless. Rubbing head or neck will make you look disinterested and rubbing or touching your nose displays dishonesty.

Convey a solid self-confidence with the way you position your legs and feet. Your stance and positioning of your feet say a lot about your self-confidence. Sit with legs at a right angle and feet firmly planted on the floor. Stand with legs slightly parted and knees relaxed. That says “I’m solid and sure of myself.”

Crossing the legs during the interview has you appear too relaxed. Locking your ankles tightly together or around the legs of the chair demonstrates non-communication and disengagement. So does pointing your feet toward the door. Shuffling the feet indicates nervousness and discomfort. Bouncing the heels up and down is a sign of nervousness or over-excitement. Standing with your feet too close together says you are hesitant and insecure.

Men and women differ in their body language, speech and perception.

Women are more comfortable with being approached from the front and will stand in a more squared position. They nod when they agree, are listening, empathizing with the speaker or encouraging them to continue. Women recognize good listening skills as using a lot of eye contact and reacting visually. They also maintain a closer physical distance to everyone, including someone they just met, and use touch to signal agreement, sympathy, compassion, connection and celebration. Women often condense their physical space by keeping their elbows by their sides and sometimes stand with their legs close together as they cross one knee over the other. More emotional than men, women raise their voices when under stress and use five different vocal tones when speaking. Because they tend to be more expressive, women use more facial expressions and translate the lack of facial expressions in others as negative feedback, which promotes anxiety. Women tend to smile more than men and are judged as pretty, feminine, shallow and unintelligent when they have breathy, tense voices.

Men, on the other hand, prefer approaches from the side. Two men speaking will angle their bodies slightly. Men typically nod only when they are in agreement and recognize good listening skills as minimal eye contact and almost no nonverbal feedback. They tend to keep a great distance between those they don’t know and see touching as being motivated by power. Men expand in their own physical space by sprawling, sitting with their legs spread wide open, or widely crossed, and stretching their arms on the back of a chair next to them. They also expand their work space by spreading their materials around their office or all over a conference table. Men’s voices have deeper vocal ranges and they use only three vocal tones when speaking. They minimize facial expressions, which often causes uneasiness in others and they also express their anger nonverbally. They tend to quickly expel anger with physical bursts of energy, such as hitting a table. Men often keep their legs apart at 10° to 15° angles, in a more open and relaxed stance and emphasize stature, composure and confidence with body language. They are also judged as mature, masculine and intelligent if they have throaty, tense voices.

The thing men and women have in common is they smile when they are genuinely happy, amused, or when it is socially acceptable to do so.

The important points are to make and keep eye contact, smile, hone a great handshake, show confidence, and express and sell yourself.

More importantly, PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. And when you’re done with that, PRACTICE some more.

Over the years, the biggest difference between candidates who did well in the interviewing process and those that didn’t came down to practicing.

At least once a week, I have candidates tell me things like, “I know how to interview… it’s no big deal… I’m really good at it, etc.” and then they get into the interview and they blow it.

To be successful interviewing, you’ve got to practice!

Good luck to you!

….candidate body language

Ok, so you think you got this down. YOU DON”T…Most candidates never deal with this thought and they should. So, pay attention!

Candidate Body Language in the interview is extremely important. People form an opinion of you in the first seven seconds of the meeting and your body language says a lot. One study from McGill University in the 1960s found that people decide to hire you, or not, in the first FOUR minutes of an interview. There is little evidence to challenge that study even today.

According to Careerbuilder.com, some hiring Managers claim they can spot a possible candidate for a job in 30 seconds or less. Your body language sets the stage.

Why is it important? Looking for a job is emotionally stressful. Most people are very nervous when it comes to interviewing and when people are nervous their body language usually reflects their nervousness. Lack of eye contact, not smiling, a weak handshake and poor posture, along with other issues we will address here, can kill an interview. It will eliminate you as a candidate no matter how good your talent, experience or professional abilities might be.

Here is a perfect example. We recently had an excellent candidate who had 20 years of business project consulting experience, both selling and leading the consulting projects after they were sold. One of the country’s most elite business consulting organizations was interested in hiring him. They were anxious to hire, but they were very, very picky. They already interviewed and eliminated 28 candidates. Their procedure was to have a candidate do telephone interviews with five or six of the partners from around the country before traveling to their corporate office for face-to-face and final interviews.

All of the 28 other candidates were eliminated after two or three of the telephone interviews. Our candidate was not only successful in passing the five very difficult phone interviews with the partners, but one of the VPs told us that he was the best candidate they had spoken to in a year and he couldn’t wait to get the guy to corporate to “get him hired”. The candidate was likewise thrilled and talking about all of the success that he would have with the firm.

He flew to the corporate office late one afternoon and prepared for his first meeting with the CEO early the next morning. The meeting with the CEO lasted a whole 15 minutes. The CEO told the candidate after about 12 minutes into the interview that he was not what the company was looking for. The CEO thanked him for his time and the candidate then flew back to Dallas. The candidate was devastated. He was perfect for the job and every one of the partners as well as the VP with whom he had spoken over the phone thought so too.

Here is what happened. The candidate arrived at the CEOs office 15 minutes early, just as he should. He didn’t smile and was not warm to the CEOs administrator… he didn’t even say anything much beyond, “I’m here to see the CEO.” He was not dressed appropriately. Although he did wear a suit, his striped shirt and polka dot tie were totally mismatched (… according to the CEO). When he walked into the CEOs office, he walked slowly with no authority or energy. He did not initiate a handshake and when the CEO did, he gave the CEO a limp handshake… and his sweaty palms didn’t help. Again, he didn’t smile and he did not look the CEO in the eye. According to the CEO, he slumped down in his chair, crossed his legs and gazing down, almost looking at his own shoes, asked the CEO, “What would you like to know?”

The conversation, according to the CEO, was stilted and lethargic. The candidate continued to slump in his chair, with his eyes darting around the office. His speech came across very slow and tentative. There were long, pensive pauses before he answered the CEOs questions and no animation or enthusiasm in his gestures or his speech. The decisive CEO decided they were not going to hire our candidate and saw no reason to prolong the “pain.” What should have been a day of interviewing resulting in a formal offer of $180,000, which had already been discussed, ended with the candidate leaving empty-handed.

The candidate admitted that he had not interviewed in a very long time. He hadn’t practiced interviewing and, in spite of the fact he had 20 solid years of experience, he really wasn’t prepared for the interview. He said that the CEO’s office and CEO were rather intimidating and, that early in the morning, he wasn’t prepared. He had lots of excuses…he hadn’t gone to the cleaners and gotten the appropriate shirts…his plane arrived at 1 am in the morning because of weather delays and he was tired…and he just didn’t think it was fair to start out speaking with the CEO that early in the morning. His body language cost him the job. The CEO said that he couldn’t imagine the candidate making a good impression with the CEOs, CIOs and COOs of the Fortune 500 firms they sell to.

So here is a primer on candidate body language:

Prepare yourself before you walk in the door for an interview. Stand up straight, with your shoulders back, head held high, with a smile on your face. Blow your nose, adjust your apparel, touch up your makeup or hair, silence your cell phone and put it away. Raise your eyebrows to widen your eyes, make you look more awake and give you a friendlier expression. This expression and body-posture tells your audience you are confident and comfortable with what you’re selling – YOU.

Look people in the eye and smile with your eyes. This means from the Receptionist or Assistant who greets you, to the hiring authority and anyone else you may be introduced to. A helpful way to make eye contact is to take note of the other person’s eye color. It will help you stay focused and engaged.

Keep your eyes focused on theirs in a friendly manner, “smiling” with your eyes. Staring at them blankly will make you appear “distant” and not present in the moment. If you look down you’ll seem submissive or dishonest. Looking around the room or away from them will make you come across as nervous and uninterested.

You must initiate a great handshake. The handshake is the most familiar and traditional of business gestures and makes a lasting impression. You develop an immediate and positive connection with someone from touching their hands.

Step forward slightly and reach out YOUR hand to the other person, with your palm facing sideways. Make sure you make full contact with the web of your hand to the other person’s hand. Press firmly in the handshake to “affirm” the gesture as being genuine. Shake with your right hand and, if your left hand is empty, touch the other’s right arm with it to re-affirm the sincerity of the gesture. Keep that smile on your face while maintaining the eye and hand contact. Introduce yourself by name if this is your first meeting. Follow that by saying, “It’s great to meet you” or “I’m so glad to be here, thanks so much for seeing me.” It’s not recommended you hug them, no matter how well you know them.

Hold the other person’s hand a second longer than you normally would. This conveys additional sincerity and quite literally “hones” the other person’s attention when you exchange greetings. Honor their personal space by keeping a distance of a minimum of 20” between the two of you.
Don’t lose hand contact during the introduction. If your palms are sweaty, wipe them off right before you meet the other person. If you shake with a “limp grip” you’ll be perceived as indecisiveness or weak. Shake with firmness and confidence.

Briefly mirror the other person’s body postures, gestures and expressions. Mirroring builds the ability to influence other people to think like you. It also leads them to experience the same emotions you are experiencing or expressing. Mirroring the interviewer’s posture, just briefly, will have them connect with you and follow your posture. You only want to mirror someone long enough to get them to begin to mirror you.

Mirror the other person for about one or two minutes before gradually changing your body’s language to proper interviewing posture. Do this in a subtle manner so you don’t look like you’re mocking or mimicking the other person. The idea is to mirror them so they will then follow you and mirror you. As you move into your own, professional posture, start being more animated, energetic, passionate and enthusiastic – this will lead the other person into energy and enthusiasm.

Don’t mirror the other person beyond a minute or two or go overboard when you move into your own posture and become more animated and enthusiastic. Maintain decorum and control. Don’t worry if they don’t adopt your amount of enthusiasm and mirror you completely – they will still see it in you, and identify with you.

Proper upper body posture is essential to making a good impression. Position your shoulders and torso toward the interviewer. Good posture has you appear interested, engaged, and ready to interact and will most likely compel the interviewer to mirror you.

Orienting your body away from someone conveys detachment or disengagement, regardless of the words spoken. Facing your body towards the door assumes you can’t wait to get out of there.

Sit up straight, with shoulders back, and torso squarely faced toward the other person. Lean slightly forward in the chair to show eagerness and attention.

Don’t slouch down as it will have you appear disinterested or unprepared. If you recline with your shoulders back against the chair and your legs outstretched or crossed in front of you, you’ll appear too relaxed and lazy. Whatever you do, don’t lean back with your hands behind your head. It’s a sign of arrogance.

More next time!