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Will A Little Harmless Flirting Help You Land The Job?

October 14, 2009
by Gwen Darling
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A couple weeks ago, I was contacted by a very experienced Healthcare IT professional who was interested in pursuing one of the opportunities at Healthcare IT Central. Usually potential candidates use the site’s resources to apply directly for the position, but since this candidate was so well-qualified I was happy to forward his resume to the recruiter directly, since he truly seemed like the “perfect” candidate. I was not alone in my estimation, for the recruiter excitedly called me soon after, thanking me for the lead and telling me that Mr. Perfect was flying in the following week for an interview.

So far, so good. Until I heard from the recruiter yesterday, who had a rather amusing (but costly) story to share. Mr. Perfect arrived a bit early for his interview (perfect), treated the receptionist like a valuable person by introducing himself to her and shaking her hand (perfect), and was impeccably dressed (perfect). He waited for the interviewer (recruiter) to sit down before he took his seat, nodded affirmatively at all the right places and didn’t interrupt, and asked if she minded if he took notes. Perfect, perfect, perfect. He was qualified, articulate, and witty. As the interview progressed, it quickly became apparent that he was the best candidate for this job. According to the recruiter, in her mind, he had the job offer nailed – the rest of the interview process was simply going to be a formality. Until she asked him if he had any questions for her. And then the story went something like this:

“I’m guessing from those two pictures behind you of the adorable children, you’re married, “ said Mr. Perfect.
“Uh, yes. Yes, I am,” said the recruiter.
“Well first of all, you don’t look old enough to have kids that age,” he said.
“Uh. Uh. Well, thanks,” said the recruiter.
“And secondly, damn, your husband is one lucky guy to come home to you every night,” he said.
“Uh. Uh. Uh,” said the recruiter.
“Do the rest of the women in this company look as good as you do?” he said.
“Thank you for your time. We still are in the midst of the interviewing process and will be in touch when we make our final decision,” said the recruiter.

And that marked “THE END” for Mr. Suddenly-Not-So-Perfect.

This particular example features a male acting like a clueless idiot, but I’ve seen plenty of examples of females attempting to use their feminine wiles to sway their interviewer – it definitely goes both ways. Is it ever a good idea to flirt in an interview situation? No. It’s not. And this goes for non-verbal communication flirting, as well (wink, wink). For although the intention may be harmless, if the flirting does, in fact, influence the interviewer in an inappropriate way, it will only cause headaches later as word gets around (and it will) that so and so earned their position the “easy” way. Bottom line: There’s a fine line between attempting to develop a personal connection with your interviewer and crossing inappropriate personal boundaries. Know the difference!

So, since we’re on the subject, is it ever okay to flirt at work? Stay tuned – we’ll tackle that one another time. . .

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