Conducting a job search can be a stressful and worrying process. For example, applying for roles and not hearing back can be a cause for concern, while being offered an interview can also be a nerve-wracking experience.
Attending a job interview can cause sweaty-palms, fears of blurting out the wrong answer, not remembering an interviewer’s name and even getting lost on the way to the interview venue, all of which are enough to send anyone into a frenzy.
In fact, research by JDP previously revealed that 93% of job candidates have experienced anxiety related to their interview, with many citing not being able to answer difficult questions, not being able to address a weakness and not coming off as intended as common reasons for concern.
Despite this, it’s critical that jobseekers remain as professional as they can throughout the whole process, in order to make a good impression when meeting hiring managers.
This has been pointed out more recently in a forum on Reddit dubbed Life Pro Tips. In it, one woman has shared how a single mistake scuppered a jobseeker’s chances. She stated that a candidate “blew his interview in the first five minutes after he entered the building”.
“He was dismissive to the receptionist. She greeted him and he barely made eye contact. She tried to engage him in conversation. Again, no eye contact, no interest in speaking with her. What the candidate did not realise was that the ‘receptionist’ was actually the hiring manager,” she said.
She explained that after the incident took place the applicant was invited into a conference room where the hiring manager told him that every person in the team is valuable and worthy of respect.
The Reddit user added: “Due to his interaction with the ‘receptionist’, the hiring manager did not feel he was a good fit. Thank you for your time but the interview is over.
“Be nice to everyone in the building.”
Commenting on the post, other Reddit users stated that they had also experienced similar tests. For example, one stated that they were hired after they helped the caretaker by holding the door open, which the receptionist had witnessed. The user continued: “The receptionist said, ‘that's so nice of you’. I said it was just decency, but apparently, she was in the hiring manager's ear later that day.”
In addition, HR Grapevine’s sister site Executive Grapevine reported last year on another test which was handed out by Trent Innes, who heads up an Australian accounting software firm. He shared that he uses one particular technique in order to judge whether a candidate will be a good hire or not.
It involves a coffee cup, and whether the candidate in question offers to take the empty cup back to the kitchen once the interview has finished. Innes said: “One of the things I’m always looking for at the end of the interview is, does the person doing the interview want to take that empty cup back to the kitchen?”
Are interview tests fair?
Another user raised the query that nerves can sometimes get the better of candidates, which may cause someone to blank an individual. The person wrote: “My only ? About this is I have horrible anxiety and struggle to focus on stuff other than the actual process so I'm sure I've blanked on responding to a receptionist.”
This prompts the question as to whether tests like these are fair in the first place. Managing Director at Ambitions Personnel, a recruitment specialist, Mandy Watson, believes that assessing someone’s manners and politeness in an interview is “not really an effective test”. She also agrees with the comment mentioned above that nerves could get the better of some candidates.
“As rude as this candidate might have seemed, it also needs to be taken into account that nerves can be frayed and personalities may not shine through until a candidate feels they are being assessed. The perceived rudeness may well come from a place of anxiety on the candidate's part and therefore is not necessarily the best measure of someone.”
She advised instead to “take this initial 'test' into consideration and still go ahead with a thorough interview”.
The recruitment expert also added that hiring managers should try and consider the phrase to never judge a book by its cover.
“By all means the receptionist should be treated with respect, but a response like this might mean you are letting an otherwise suitable candidate go. Employers need to assess a team fit and this is a powerful initial indicator, but to have it as the first hurdle seems needlessly wasteful,” she concluded.