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A real life horror story: the worst candidate I ever interviewed

Posted by
30 Oct 2015
With Halloween around the corner, I thought I'd share my own hypothetical horror story about a candidate interview so we can all feel festive and so that you can think about your own bad habits in the future and be more conscious when you are in an interview situation.

It was a dark afternoon in the Sellick Partnership office when the sound of the phone ringing startled us, sending shivers down our spines. I should have been expecting this as my candidate was now 20 minutes late. The tall dark figure had barged through the doors and rudely interrupted the receptionist moments before she had called. His lateness didn't set a good example, it made me question his timekeeping skills and I considered that if he was interviewing in a tight schedule he may make it difficult to schedule or he may miss the interview slot as a result. I often ask the receptionist her thoughts of our candidates because this is when the candidate's guard is down so their true self is more likely to come out. When I found out that he had interrupted the receptionist I was embarrassed. However, I would rather that he did this where the receptionist knows me, and I can apologise, rather than with a client's receptionist who could see this as a bad reflection on me and my company.

This alone would have made me question whether I would represent him. The tall mysterious figure greeted me with a strong handshake, but I was disappointed to see his casual appearance. My general advice is that for a business meeting always dress formal unless it is stated otherwise or, if for some reason you cannot come dressed smartly make a point of this to the person you are meeting so they know what to expect. Alternatively arrange the meeting at a time when you can dress smartly.

It may sound like a cliché but first impressions can only be made once, by not being smartly dressed he gave the impression that he wasn't serious about the role. We made our way around the grand staircase and towards the meeting room door, the door creaked open as we approached it. When we sat down and started talking and I started asking him questions about his skill set, he was patronising about recruitment agencies making claims that I should know everything about finance as I am specialist in the sector, as I pointed out to him I don't claim to be a financial specialist, I am a recruitment specialist so therefore know how to recruit and help with recruitment needs. Respect is so important in the workplace, if he couldn't show me the respect when I was trying to help him secure a new role, I was worried how he would come across to the HR manager or manager. He had a distinct lack of eye contact with me which made me feel uncomfortable, it demonstrated that he wasn't paying attention to what I was saying, so I was wasting my time. His body language was closed with folded arms, making me feel like he was guarded and had something to hide.

At another point he was slouching in his chair which added to him seeming uninterested in myself and the opportunity. When I tried to address his patronising (and sometimes rude) nature he didn't apologise for this, couldn't take the criticism and said that in his opinion I was wrong. I wouldn't expect many people to be this extreme in an interview, but if the interviewer picks up on anything about you which is constructive, take it on board and apologise if you are in the wrong. It's much better to admit and accept your mistakes as it shows you are willing to listen and improve. It's also good to take this feedback and use it in your next interview.

Needless to say we wouldn't represent a candidate who displayed his behaviour. Luckily my interviewing skills are stronger than my horror story writing skills!

If you have an upcoming interview and would like more hints and tips please get in touch on 0191 261 8585 or email me
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