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Interview Faux-Pas: Our Recruiters Dish The Dirt On The Mistakes You’ve Been Making

Interview Faux-Pas: Our Recruiters Dish the Dirt on the Mistakes You’ve been Making


By Cindy Schwartz
Group Manager, Recruitment Solutions
& Contributing Writer at Quantum

With 50 years’ experience recruiting top talent for our clients, our recruiters at Quantum have seen it all!

While we’re sure that candidates come into our offices with the best of intentions, interviews don’t always play out the way you’d expect.

Ultimately, as one of our candidates, we want to help you succeed in finding your dream job, and your preparedness increases the likelihood that we can do just that – matching you with one of the outstanding clients we represent.

Many recruitment blogs out there tout the more obvious interview missteps, such as arriving late, chewing gum, and having your cell phone ring during the exchange. However, there is more to consider.  Our Montreal team shares some of the less obvious faux-pas of the interviewing game.

Dress code

Leggings or jeans are not appropriate for a corporate interview. EVER. We’ve heard it a million times – that you are wearing them now, but you would never wear them to an interview with our client. What does that imply to the recruiter sitting across the desk from you?  It sends the distinct message that you don’t value the role that he/she plays in your job search. Remember your interview with a recruiter is an interview that counts. Always dress for success, as the impression you leave on us is the impression that our client, who trusts us, receives second-hand.

Olfactory factor

Try to come into an interview smelling as neutral as possible. Perfume, especially too much, can be just as offensive as smelling like body odour. One recruiter recently recounted that she had to interrupt an interview with a great candidate to open the door, because the overwhelming smell of her perfume was giving her a migraine and she literally couldn’t breathe!

It’s not just what you say

The way you interact with the recruiter physically says a lot. The ideal posture? Sit back in your chair and act as natural as possible. Don’t inch forward and put your elbows on the desk, and be mindful not to start playing with items that don’t belong to you. (Yes, it happens!) Also, be a dear and don’t leave your half empty coffee on our desk. (Unless you bring us a latte too! ?)

Be more discreet

There is a time and place for everything – and that includes telephone interviews. Don’t take calls for alternative employment while sitting at the desk of your current job. We had a candidate recount how much he hated his boss, who happened to be in the office next door and heard everything! (P.S. He got fired.)

Schedule calls on your lunch or, if you must, step into a more private space. You should also send applications exclusively from your personal e-mail account. Talking about personal, always keep the conversation as professional as possible. Whether on the phone or in person, an interview is not the appropriate occasion to discuss your love life or your messy divorce.

Set and present realistic expectations

Come to an interview having done your research on what your value is within the market. If you just graduated, don’t expect a role in management or a job that pays 10-20K over your market range.  Suggesting the unreasonable will come across as professionally inexperienced and naive. (Similarly, don’t deliberately exaggerate or attempt to mislead the interviewer. Good recruiters are excellent detectives and can smell a lie from a mile away.)

Final thoughts and considerations

  • Coming in as prepared as possible can really go a long way to making a favourable impression and helps recruiters understand better what you are looking for.
  • Relax, be yourself, and be prepared to tell us your story in your own words, without following along on your résumé.
  • Be clear on what you have to offer and what is unique about your profile. Tell us what makes you great at what you do.
  • Showing up on time, with motivation, passion and concrete examples that back up your skills, makes you a dream candidate! Dream candidates get dream jobs.
  • Flexibility opens doors. Considering an opportunity that you were not initially seeking may lead to a rewarding employment experience.

Building a relationship with an experienced recruiter is worthwhile and can lead to connections that you might not have access to on your own. The first step is to apply to one of our jobs.

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