No matter how good a track record you might have… no matter how successful you have been… no matter how smooth you think you are…you gotta think about what you say to a prospective employer when you get asked a question. You got to ask yourself, “If I don’t know me or my situation, how does this sound to a prospective employer?”
This week, I had an excellent candidate interview for a position with an outstanding consulting firm. The job in the company would’ve been a very nice step up for him and, certainly, the company needed his track record and his potential. The guy had been phenomenally successful at a much smaller,very unknown, consulting firm. This was going to be his chance to get into the “major leagues.” And the company was going to be able to hire a star.
Here is what the employer wrote me after the interview:
“I am not able to move forward with ———- as a candidate.”
“He told me that he had issues with his expense reports being too large for client dinners, and not getting approved. He also told me that he went around his manager’s back to do things he wasn’t supposed to (outside of his role), because he felt like he should do them anyway.”
Why, why, why, why, why would anybody communicate that to a prospective employer? Now, the truth is that the candidate’s present firm is first class cheap. He ended up paying some of his expenses out of his own pocket. What he was trying to communicate was that, “I go the extra mile and do what I have to do.”
But obviously, what came across to the potential manager was, “This guy doesn’t mind breaking the rules and goes around his management and does whatever he wants to do! I can’t afford to hire anybody that’s going to be that deliberate in breaking my or my company’s rules.” End of consideration!
I’ve known as candidate for a number of years and he’s really a good guy. A really good guy. He’s not a malcontent. In fact, he’s a top producer. The situation unfortunately is really sad.
I don’t have a problem when one of my clients doesn’t hire one of my candidates because they don’t think the candidate would perform well, or even if they eliminate the candidate because of a personality mismatch. But this is really unfortunate.
If you’re a job candidate you got to think, “How was this going to come across to this hiring authority?” You got to remember that employers identify with employers. Anything a job seeker says about their last employer, whoever is interviewing them is going to assume that they’re going to say the same thing about them. How you treat your present or last employer is going to be the way you treat them.
The candidate realized when I sent him this email from the employer what he had done. I give him credit for not being defensive about it or saying something like, “That’s not what I meant!” A lot of candidates would just plain old deny that they said that and defend themselves and claim that the interviewing or hiring authority got it all wrong and they were crazy not to consider hiring the candidate anyhow. But my candidate understood. He agreed that it probably wasn’t the smartest thing to say and said he was sorry. He was as graceful as he could be about it.
So the lesson is: THINK!