What would you do to get your dream job? Bribe the employer with food or gifts? Hit on the hiring manager? Become a stalker?
Job seekers will do almost anything to stand out among the competition. There is no length a candidate won’t go to and no line someone won’t cross in order to get a job. Hiring managers nationwide see it all and have shared the most unconventional methods job seekers have used to grab the employers attention in one of CareerBuilder.com’s “How to Get in the Front Door” survey.
While some candidates efforts were effective and impressive – like giving a PowerPoint presentation, distributing a portfolio of their work on a CD, and offering to work for a day to demonstrate their talents – others’ completely missed the mark and were complete turn-offs.
Here are a few of these examples:
One candidate called incessantly for weeks before and after the position was filled. Another clueless candidate asked for another interview after being told that the job was filled. One job seeker brought coffee for the entire office, while another asked the interviewer out to dinner.
If you think these examples are weird, here are some of the most bizarre things job seekers did to try and get noticed/hired:
- Wore a tuxedo.
- Used a celebrity official fan site as one of their portfolio accomplishments.
- Brought a baby gift to the interviewer who was pregnant.
- Sat next to the hiring manager in a church pew.
- Left Yankee tickets for the interviewer.
- Sent a nude photo of himself to the hiring manager.
- Tried to do a stand-up comedy routine.
- Waited for the hiring manager at his car.
- Came dressed as a cat.
- Said they “smiled on command.”
- Applicant’s very first question to me was “Do you discriminate against someone who has been convicted of attempted murder?”
- A job application was sent in completely ripped to shreds and taped back together. Stained brown. I hope it was coffee.
- Applicant asked if she could fill out her own written reference for herself.
- Applicant sent about 45 pages of personal documentation (military records, letters of recommendation, good citizenship awards) along with the application.
- A guy pulled out a guitar and started singing to the interviewer during the interview.
- Following the interview, one candidate sent a heart-shaped balloon and box. When the interviewer open the box the note said “If you’re looking for a candidate that rises above the rest that you’ll love, remember me.”
- Candidate asked for a cigarette during the interview.
- A mother brought her two young children to the interview (ages 2 and 4).
- A lady apologized for being a few minutes late the interview and explained that she was at her husband’s funeral.
- One candidate when asked “Why did you leave your last job?” answered “Because the HR guy was a f***ing idiot”.
- An employer was interviewing a young lady when her cell phone rang. She took the call, and the conversation went like this: “Hey, what’s up?…I’m interviewing for a job…I don’t know what the name of the company is……No, I don’t know what they do…..the job I’m trying for is Information Specialist..no sh*t, it really is.”
- One employer asked for e-mails on their job applications and saw the following e-mail addresses on two of them: “email@example.com” and “firstname.lastname@example.org”
- An applicant who wouldn’t take a typing test because the keyboard was black.
- In hoping to help diversify the company, one man came to the interview as a drag queen.
Multiple people are vying for the same open positions in most situations. Trying something out of the ordinary to market your skills and accomplishments can give you an edge over other applicants. The key to executing effectively and making yourself memorable for the right reasons is coupling creativity with professionalism and persistence.
According to research by L. Huang and associates, of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and published in Psychological Science, your posture speaks volumes about whether you are a take-charge, in-control person–or a “yes” man or woman. This research validates what I have been teaching for many years in my career development courses: how you sit or stand produces behavioral changes in you and the people around you.
For example, if you take up a lot of space when you sit, messages are sent to your brain that make you feel more powerful. Subsequently, those around you also perceive you to be more authoritative and powerful.
But body posture alone isn’t the only thing that can help (or hurt) you in a job interview. Here are some body language tips to help you non-verbally ace the interview…
1. Sit up straight. Do what your mama told you, and don’t slouch. Slouching portrays lack of interest, lack of confidence and a poor work ethic.
2. Make – and maintain – eye contact. I’ve had mock job interviews with clients who would look down at the floor, up at the ceiling, out the window, or at my desk when answering interview questions. Making eye contact shows that you have confidence and, perhaps more important, that you are honest. But here’s a caveat to eye contact: hold it for too long, and you come off as creepy; if you don’t hold it long enough, you come off as “shifty” and non-trustworthy.
So, what’s an interviewee to do? As a general rule, maintain eye contact with someone for at least four seconds before looking away. If you don’t want to have to count “one-thousand-one, one-thousand-two…” in your head until you get to four seconds, just look at the person’s eyes long enough to know what color they are—that’s about three to four seconds.
3. Lean forward. If you lean in as the other person is speaking, it shows interest. When you lean forward as you answer your questions, it shows enthusiasm.
4. Don’t move around when you are being asked a question. This tip comes from my days as a jury consultant. If you move around as you are being asked a question, you send the impression that you are uncomfortable with the question, and are literally “squirming.” The same holds true for taking a sip of coffee or water: don’t do it while you are being asked a question. If you need to shift your body weight, or take a sip of water, do it after you have answered the question–and just before the interviewer asks another question.
5. Use animated facial expressions. Often someone will demonstrate appropriate and enthusiastic body language, but have a stone-cold facial expression throughout the interview. Smile throughout the interview. Also, open your eyes slightly more than normal to simulate the “eyebrow flash” — the universal signal of recognition and acknowledgement. The eyebrow flash builds rapport quickly, and enhances your likeability factor.
6. Master the art of the handshake. Such a simple act can go wrong in so many ways! Have you ever had a bone-crushing handshake? How about that was wimpy? Or one where the person wouldn’t let go of your hand?
The first thing to master in the handshake is timing. Wait until the introduction is finished before extending your hand. If you extend your hand too quickly, the perception is that you’re like a bad used car salesman—pushy, and a bad listener.
Next, deliver the handshake with a smile and eye contact. Make the grip firm, but not bone-crushing.
Finally, start and stop the handshake crisply. It should be no longer than three seconds, and no more than three pumps of the arm.
Of course, landing a job also requires that you have the skills, experience, and attitude for the position. But tweaking your body language can help start the interview off on the right foot, and increase rapport with your interviewer.