Looking for a Job? Here’s How Not to Get Hired

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“Mr. Beaver, I do the hir­ing for a paint and coat­ings com­pa­ny based in the South and frankly won­der if I am going insane, or if today’s job appli­cants think that a job inter­view is the same thing as Sat­ur­day night with the gang — wear what you want and don’t mind your lan­guage! You can’t imag­ine the peo­ple who come so unpre­pared for a job inter­view. They have lit­tle con­cept of how to dress pro­fes­sion­al­ly or act pro­fes­sion­al­ly — they answer ques­tions look­ing at the floor or ceil­ing and in gen­er­al give an ‘I don’t care if I get the job’ atti­tude. I think it would be instruc­tive if you looked at how not to get hired! Thanks, Theo.”

I ran Theo’s time­ly ques­tion by two friends of this col­umn, senior HR con­sul­tants Mari­nor Ifu­rung and Andu Yohannes with the South­ern Cal­i­for­nia-based law firm Klein DeNa­tale Gold­ner. I asked them to list behav­iors that can ruin your chances of get­ting hired.

Six red-flag behaviors, courtesy of HR consultants

1. Com­ing to the inter­view unpre­pared.

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Andu: A lack of prepa­ra­tion can slam the shut on a job offer. When you are asked to bring a copy of your résumé, a filled-out appli­ca­tion or oth­er doc­u­ments, and you show up with­out them, this fail­ure tells me you are not able to fol­low instruc­tions. So, I would con­clude you may have a hard time fol­low­ing direc­tions and may strug­gle with suc­cess­ful­ly per­form­ing your job duties.

Mari­nor: If some­one real­ly this job, then they will take the steps to show they are pre­pared for it. Show­ing up with­out the request­ed doc­u­ments is an inter­view killer. There are no excus­es. This occurs less when inter­view­ing for an administrative/professional posi­tion than when hir­ing for an entry-lev­el job such as a recep­tion­ist or restau­rant serv­er. This shows lack of inter­est and, poten­tial­ly, the appli­can­t’s inabil­i­ty to fol­low rea­son­able instruc­tions.

2. Fail­ing to con­vince us that you are right for this role. Poor com­mu­ni­ca­tion . Talk­ing over and inter­rupt­ing the inter­view­er.

Andu: We want to know what you can bring to the posi­tion. We don’t know which aspects of your past expe­ri­ence could be high­ly ben­e­fi­cial unless you sell your­self. This is an to com­mu­ni­cate how your past expe­ri­ences will you suc­ceed in this posi­tion.

Mari­nor: If com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills are lack­ing, we can’t tell if this appli­cant will be a good fit for the posi­tion. What can you bring to the table? If you don’t tell us, your chances of being hired are dimin­ished. You have to sell your­self.

3. Fail­ing to dress appro­pri­ate­ly for this employ­er and the posi­tion.

Andu: Show­ing up in a T‑shirt and shorts and treat­ing the inter­view as just anoth­er errand you had to do that day says, “I’m not tak­ing this inter­view seri­ous­ly.” Do that, and no one will take you seri­ous­ly, as you are reveal­ing a lack of self-aware­ness.

Mari­nor: Dress­ing for the posi­tion says a about your seri­ous­ness.

4. Dis­play­ing exces­sive pierc­ings and objec­tion­able tat­toos.

Andu: In the real world, dis­play of pierc­ings and objec­tion­able tat­toos aren’t going to help you land that job. So, before the inter­view, learn what the groom­ing stan­dards are and com­ply. If you’re hired, vio­lat­ing those stan­dards when you come to work will be a basis for ter­mi­na­tion.

Mari­nor: The per­son con­duct­ing the inter­view needs to be direct with the appli­cant and care­ful­ly study their body lan­guage. Often the appli­cant says, “Yes,” but their body lan­guage says some­thing dif­fer­ent, and when hired, they might come to work dis­play­ing tat­toos and pierc­ings. Appli­cants need to know that these are not con­sti­tu­tion­al­ly pro­tect­ed class­es, and there is no right to wear them at work.

5. Believ­ing that phys­i­cal require­ments list­ed for a job do not apply.

Andu: Appli­cants need to con­sid­er the phys­i­cal require­ments of the job and reflect on their abil­i­ty to meet them with or with­out an accom­mo­da­tion. There are posi­tions that require pre-employ­ment phys­i­cals designed to deter­mine the appli­can­t’s abil­i­ty to meet the phys­i­cal require­ments of a job. We often get asked if an appli­can­t’s weight plays a role in the hir­ing process. With the excep­tion of Michi­gan, New York, Wash­ing­ton state and a few local juris­dic­tions, such as San Fran­cis­co, weight is not a pro­tect­ed clas­si­fi­ca­tion unless it is relat­ed to a med­ical con­di­tion or a dis­abil­i­ty.

Mari­nor: There is a com­plete­ly false belief that, regard­less of appear­ance, there is a “right” to be employed. There isn’t. How­ev­er, some states have excep­tions. Cal­i­for­nia, for exam­ple, has a laun­dry list of pro­tect­ed clas­si­fi­ca­tions, so appear­ance mat­ters to the extent allow­able by law. Rather than focus­ing on the appear­ance of an appli­cant, hir­ing man­agers should base their deci­sion on an appli­can­t’s abil­i­ty to ful­fill the job expec­ta­tions as well as the employ­er’s expec­ta­tions.

6. Fail­ing to show up on time for the inter­view.

Andu: Punc­tu­al­i­ty is crit­i­cal. Show up late to the inter­view, and you will like­ly show up late to the job as well.

Mari­nor: Not show­ing up at all! This shows a lack of con­sid­er­a­tion for your poten­tial employ­er. No call, no show = no job.

Some advice for the person doing the hiring

Con­clud­ing our inter­view, both Andu and Mari­nor offered this advice for the per­son con­duct­ing the inter­view: Don’t just hire any­body — that is an invi­ta­tion for trou­ble lat­er. If you doubt your inter­view skills, speak with an HR con­sul­tant. It will be mon­ey well spent.

Check back on Tues­day for my fol­low-up arti­cle to this one, about how to get your­self fired.

Den­nis Beaver prac­tices law in Bak­ers­field, Calif., and wel­comes com­ments and ques­tions from read­ers, which may be faxed to (661) 323‑7993, or e‑mailed to Lagombeaver1@gmail.com. And be sure to vis­it dennisbeaver.com.

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This arti­cle was writ­ten by and presents the views of our con­tribut­ing advis­er, not the Kiplinger edi­to­r­i­al staff. You can check advis­er records with the SEC or with FINRA.

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