The Sweaty Dude Example
Let me demonstrate. As I was sitting at work yesterday, a guy comes in for an interview. So there he is standing in the room, in baggy jeans and an untugged short-sleeved plaid shirt. At least it was a button down. And while I wouldn’t ever recommend dressing like this for ANY interview, I suppose he was forgiven as he applied to a creative agency. So here he is, hunching his back (dude, stand up straight!) and has this goofy smile on his face. So there he is, this guy I was already pitying, completely nervous and probably sweating. And I was quietly thinking: “He’ll never get the job. I hope he doesn’t get the job because I cannot see myself working with this dude.” (Yes, maybe I am currently being a bit TOO honest!! How ironic!)
So my boss gets up and they go to the conference room to have their interview. As I keep working, I try to listen, but I couldn’t hear. Well, I didn’t have to try for long because just about ten minutes later, they emerge again. Sweaty dude first (Fauxpas). My boss right behind him. As he is walking in front of her, she glances over at me with disaster written all over her face. Thank goodness, I thought, I will not have to work with him. So the dude walks out and my boss comes back to sit at the desk.
What Got Him Fired Before He Was Hired
She immediately proceeds to tell me what was wrong with him. To my surprise, it wasn’t his perceived stupidity. Even though, admittedly, he didn’t seem to know very much about the job he applied for. But that’s not what didn’t get him the job! What didn’t get him the job, what was the breaking point for my boss, was that he lied about knowing more than he actually did. He pretended to have a professional background in the field, when he just kept talking about doing it very low budget for his friends. So he basically took his bit of experience to make himself look like he knew it all. And then my boss tells me that had he said he was really interested in the field and would love to learn more, she would have considered him. But he chose to lie about his background.
Something to ponder about:
He may have been hired for the job – even not knowing much about the field – had he only shown passion. But he lost his chance because he lied.
To HIM, it was probably not lying. He never thought of what he was saying as lying. In his mind, it was probably more like trying to look good or justifying or inflating at the most. But he was perceived as lying. And then I was thinking: Well, don’t we all do that? How often have we walked out of an interview and it went great. We gave all these great examples of our work, and we pointed out all these great numbers and achievements… and we never heard from the interviewer again.
What's One Man's Treasure Is Another Man's Trash
Here is what we can’t forget: As much as we make up numbers/inflate numbers (no one is ever really going to check), we tend to forget one thing: We are entry level or close to entry level workers interviewing with a seasoned professional. They know that we do not have all the experience in the world. They don’t expect us to. That’s why they’re hiring us into an entry level job. If we had more experience, we’d be interviewing to be managers. They just want to hear that we have a basic understanding and passion. If you tell them you’re an expert or you have this huge portfolio to showcase, they know you’re not being honest.
Now, you may honestly have experience working on projects. Within internships or project work, or even from another entry level job. And you may honestly know how to do your job perfectly and in the most professional way. But compared to THEM, or compared to what you will be doing there, it’s small fry. So don’t inflate your numbers. Don’t inflate your experience. You mean well, but you’re perceived as a liar. And no one is going to hire a liar.
This principle particularly applies to new and young professionals. That’s the reason why you’re not getting a call back. But even if you’re not entry level, you can still apply to concept. You are interviewing for a higher-up position with someone probably much more higher up than you. What you have to tell them may be great – but remember who you’re talking to. Much more important than numbers are commitment and passion. And honesty.
This guy didn’t mean to lie, he only meant to use his experience to make himself look good; but he made himself look like a fool – and worse, a liar. A liar in baggy pants and an untugged shirt.
So next time you wonder why you didn’t get the job, ask yourself if you did anything like sweaty guy. Were you confident but humble and honestly excited, or was your agenda to show off? Leave your comments about your experiences and share your wisdom!