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Language, Liquor, and Lies

August 17, 2012
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 People are simply amazing, wonderful creatures to watch, especially in an interview setting. Some candidates prepare for days while others rely on their people skills to get them through without any preparation whatsoever. Bad move. To totally rely on your gift of the gab is risky, especially when the interviewer begins to ask questions – or peels back the layers of the onion. Without some advance prep, most candidates just can’t keep it up - a few softballs - and then, game over.

Even if you are incredibly prepared, you should always stay focused on the mission - why you are there. Letting down your guard makes you vulnerable and gives the interviewer more information than they probably want to hear. In my business, I've seen it all.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Language– I've written about this phenomenon before. It goes both ways - at some point in the interview process, a candidate or client suddenly feels comfortable and that they're really (no, not really) connecting with their audience by dropping inappropriate language. They feel like they're building rapport - forging a solid relationship - by sharing their 'human side' with other person. Dropping 'F-Bombs' is NEVER appropriate during an interview. Just last month one of our candidates decided to use inappropriate language in their very first interview with the client, and it went over like… well, it didn’t. And it never will.

Liquor – I’m not a fan of boozing it up during a dinner interview (and please, never at lunch), but some people feel compelled to order a drink if the person conducting the interview decides to enjoy a beer or a glass of wine. This can feel like a way to connect with the person you are with - especially is they could become your future boss. I always suggest abstinence when you can, and if you can’t, just one, please (and nurse it for a very long time). I've seen cases of over-consumption of alcohol during a dinner interview (loose lips prevailed), and it’s always downhill from there. When it doubt – club soda with a twist of lime always works, and sounds cool too!

Lies– People in HCIT leadership positions most likely know someone who knows someone who knows you. Name-dropping is never a good idea- especially if the interviewer knows that person well. This, of course, becomes very problematic when a candidate embellishes the truth about a career milestone or tries to take credit for something they never did on their own. Remember the onion analogy above? Be careful! A safe answer that is always acceptable is “I don’t know,” or “I don’t remember”. I have story after story of how stretching the truth came back to bite the candidate in more ways than one. Go ahead and tell it like it was!      

My final tip is regardless of how comfortable you are with the audience (on the telephone or in person), remember to NEVER let your guard down!