Episode #73 – The Dangers of Relaxing and Being Careless During the Interview

Sharita: Welcome to “The Animal Health Employment Insider,” brought to you by The VET Recruiter. In this podcast, executive search consultant Stacy Pursell, founder and CEO of The VET Recruiter, provides insight and practical advice for both companies and job seekers in the Animal Health Industry and Veterinary Profession. The VET Recruiter’s mission is to help Animal Health and Veterinary employers hire top talent, while helping Animal Health and Veterinary Professionals attain career-enhancing opportunities that increase their quality of life.

In today’s podcast, we’ll be talking about the face-to-face interview. Specifically, we’re going to discuss some of the dangers involved in relaxing and being careless during the job interview. Stacy, thank you for joining us.

Stacy: Hello, Sharita. I’m glad to be here.

Sharita: Stacy, I’m 100% sure that you’ve witnessed some Animal Health candidates and Veterinary candidates who were careless during the interview or relaxed when they weren’t supposed to relax and it came back to “bite them.”

Stacy: Oh, yes. I have witnessed this happen, and it just underscores the importance of staying sharp throughout the entire interviewing and hiring process. In fact, you really can’t relax until you have that offer of employment in hand and you’re prepared to make a decision about it.

Sharita: What’s the first interview mistake that we’ll be talking about today?

Stacy: The first one is called the “rubber stamp interview.”

Sharita: What does that term mean, “rubber stamp interview”?

Stacy: I’d like to answer that by laying out a hypothetical situation. Let’s say that you’re a candidate and you’re involved in an interview with an employer. Everything is going well, and then the hiring manager says something to the effect of “We have one more person we’d like you to meet. We’re really impressed with you and we would like you to come on board, but we just need Larry to sign off on you. So we’ll bring you back in one more time to meet Larry.”

That sounds like you pretty much have the job, doesn’t it?

Sharita: It does, actually.

Stacy: Right, and then the hiring manager says, “Don’t worry, this will be a casual interview. We just need Larry’s ‘rubber stamp approval.’ This won’t be another formal interview. This is just a ‘rubber stamp interview.’”

Sharita: Stacy, I have a feeling you’re going to tell me that there’s no such thing as a ‘rubber stamp interview.’”

Stacy: Sharita, there is no such thing as a ‘rubber stamp interview.’”

Sharita: Stacy, can you elaborate on that?

Stacy: I certainly can. Every second that you spend with someone from the organization with which you’re interviewing is a formal part of the interview process. No matter how informal it seems and no matter how many people tell you that it’s informal or casual, it is NOT informal or casual. There really are no informal parts to an interview process. You’re always “on the clock.”

Sharita: Why is that, exactly?

Stacy: In this particular case study, company officials would not spend the time or the money to bring the candidate back in if it was unimportant. Think about it. Would you spend time, energy, and money on something that you didn’t believe was important?

Sharita: That’s a good point.

Stacy: There’s also another way to look at the situation presented in this case study. The hiring manager said that everyone really liked the candidate and wanted to hire them. However, they were not going to extend an offer until this other person, Larry, had the opportunity to meet the candidate. So apparently, what Larry thinks is very important to everyone else involved in the hiring process.

Sharita: Right, because if what this other person thought was not important, then they would have made an offer to the candidate already.

Stacy: Exactly! Because the hiring manager is waiting for Larry to meet the candidate, it means that Larry basically has the power to deny the candidate the offer of employment. If everyone is waiting for Larry to give the candidate a “thumbs up,” then Larry can also give the candidate a “thumbs down.” So if this person has that kind of power, then this is definitely not a “rubber stamp interview.”

Sharita: So the candidate should not relax in this situation or think that they’re “home free” with the interview or the offer.

Stacy: That’s correct. In fact, the situation is just the opposite of what it appears. It’s actually the most important part of the interview process to this point for the candidate. So they should do the opposite of relaxing. They should make even more of a concerted effort to leave a favorable impression and brand themselves in the best way possible.

Sharita: Because they have to impress Larry to get the job?

Stacy: Yes, because they have to do exactly that.

Sharita: Do hiring managers do that on purpose, tell the candidate that it’s a “rubber stamp interview” or that it’s casual?

Stacy: Yes, there are some hiring managers who do these things. In fact, I know one HR manager who acts in a casual manner during the interview on purpose to see if she can get the candidate to let down their guard and say or do something inappropriate. This is one way that she “tests” the candidate.

This is a clever approach. Hiring managers want to make sure that they hire someone who acts appropriately in all situations and circumstances. They want to hire candidates who conduct themselves with integrity at all times and who are always on their “A-game.”

Sharita: So candidates should never feel as though it’s okay for them to let down their guard?

Stacy: If you go to an interview, you must remember that from the time you arrive until the time you leave, you’re being evaluated. So be careful regarding everything you say and do during that time.

Sharita: Stacy, do you have another example or case study that involves being careless during the interview?

Stacy: I certainly do. One of our clients interviewed candidates for a director-level position within their organization. During the face-to-face interview, one of the candidates made a comment out loud about possibly being “too big for the position” due to the fact that he had a MBA degree. In other words, the candidate thought that because he had an MBA, he was “too big” to be considered for the organization’s director-level position.

Sharita: Wow, he really said that?

Stacy: He unfortunately did say that.

Sharita: So what happened?

Stacy: Well, it probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise, but that was the wrong thing to say. That’s because the hiring manager in this particular instance was also the Vice President of the company.

Sharita: Uh-oh. That’s not good.

Stacy: It wasn’t good. The VP did not appreciate the comment. So they no longer considered the person a viable candidate for the position. For all intents and purposes, the interview was over the second that the candidate made his comment.

Sharita: I’m definitely confused, Stacy. Why would he say something like that?

Stacy: I don’t know why he said that, but this is a classic case of being careless during the interview. As far as your question is concerned, I have a few different scenarios that could provide some insight.

First, the candidate really DID believe he was “too big” for the position. If that was the case, then he was probably okay with the fact he was no longer being considered for it.

Second, the candidate did NOT believe he was “too big” for the position. However, by proclaiming his belief that he was perhaps “too big,” he was hoping to make himself sound more attractive to the hiring manager. If that was the case, then he was probably disappointed by the outcome.

Third, the candidate was honestly undecided about whether or not he was “too big” for the position. Perhaps he just thought of it at the moment and blurted it out. If that was the case, then he might be left wondering if the reason he wasn’t considered was because he was “too big” OR because the hiring manager considered the statement to be a turnoff.

Sharita: Either way, it ended badly for him.

Stacy: It did. And it shows what can happen when you become too careless during the interview. Or too confident. Or even cocky, which might have been the case in this story.

Sharita: It sounds as though this candidate thought that getting an offer was a foregone conclusion for him.

Stacy: Yes, and an offer of employment is never a foregone conclusion, I can tell you that for sure. As we’ve discussed before, your number-one goal in a face-to-face interview is to get an offer of employment. And you don’t have the offer until it is formally made. You can’t assume you’re going to get it, no matter how confident you feel. You don’t have it until you have it.

That also means you can’t make a decision about the offer until you have it. You definitely can’t make a decision about an offer of employment during the interview when the hiring manager has not even offered the job to you yet. The only thing that a candidate should be doing during the interview is attempting to showcase the value they could bring to the organization if they were hired. That’s it. Your value is ultimately why you receive an offer of employment from an organization.

And once again, that value is tied to one of three things:

  1. Making money for the organization
  2. Saving money for the organization
  3. Both making and saving money for the organization

 

So until you receive an offer, you have no decision to make. Don’t go into a job interview worrying about whether or not you’re going to accept an offer that you haven’t received yet. And don’t worry during the interview about whether or not you’ll accept an offer.

There is no offer until you are presented with one. And there is no decision to make until you receive one. So pay more attention to what you need to do to receive an offer of employment instead of what you might do if you receive one.

That’s how you can avoid making careless mistakes that will negate your candidacy and cost you the job.

Sharita: That makes a lot of sense. Stacy, thanks so much for all of this great information today.

Stacy: Thank you, Sharita. As always, I look forward to our next podcast!