NottodoWith the recruiting market picking up, I am screening more candidates than I have in a long time. A majority of the candidates I am talking to haven’t looked for jobs in years. I’m not blaming the candidates for being a little rusty on their interview skills. I must admit, I get a little frustrated with the answers I get from some individuals. You have to remember, I interview people for a living. The longer I am in this industry, the more direct I am with the candidates. I am not trying to piss candidates off as much as I am trying to help the candidates. Last year I wrote 10 Questions Recruiters Ask In a Screening Interview which is to this date, the most popular and most read post on Bulls Eye Recruiting. This year, I have to go further and talk about some of the ridiculous things I hear and hopefully you won’t make the same mistakes.

There are some things you just don’t say. There are some things you just don’t do in a screening interview. The examples I am going to give are REAL. They DID happen and more importantly, they continue to happen. If you aren’t getting to the next round of interviews, you may not even realize what you are doing. I know you may be perfectly suited for a job, and as a 3rd party recruiter, I want to help you. I know I am not the only guy calling you and I genuinely want to help you succeed.

  1. “I got fired”- Seriously- this shit happens. People, I know things happen to you. It is 2015. There are “corporate layoffs”, there is “restructuring”, companies “lose their funding”. All 3 of those are pretty good answers. Please for the love of Moses, don’t tell me you got fired. You are just shrinking your credibility. I’m telling you, spin it a little better than that. You don’t have to lie, but getting fired is a pretty bad answer.
  2. “My boss sucked”- Okay, don’t be an idiot here. Telling me you can’t work with others is not the smartest thing you have ever done. Tell me about the things you learned. The good relationships you built. Tell me about the positives of your job. Don’t start on a negative. Make a negative into a positive.
  3. “I can talk after 5 or before 8″- Listen, I get it. You are busy. You have a life. You have a job. I am a recruiter and will take calls whenever I can. There are only so many calls I can make before 8 or after 5. If you don’t take initiative, the next candidate that does will steamroll you in this candidate marketplace. If you wait too many days to talk to a manager or recruiter, the candidates that took the time during the business hours will potentially get the job first.
  4. “I forgot”- There is nothing more like fingers on a chalkboard then I forgot. Believe me when I tell you, it makes you sound like you don’t have it together. If you have a scheduled interview, have it on your calendar and be available. I understand things come up and if you had a conflict. Life happens. Don’t lie and try to backtrack through. You will get caught. It will cost you a job opportunity and your credibility.
  5. “I won’t” OR “I can’t”- I’m searching for the best of the best. I don’t want to hire people who say those things. Again, I would prefer to hear “I’m open to learning” or “here is an example of what I did when I didn’t have the skills”. Don’t have a defeatist attitude. You are not my candidate if you say those things.
  6. “My LinkedIn profile is my Resume”- In 2015, you should have a great LinkedIn resume. You should also have an updated resume. If you are looking for a new job passively or actively, you should think about putting your resume together. You never really know when a recruiter is going to call and offer you your dream job. In 2014 there were more jobs created than any other year since 1999. You should always have your resume handy.
  7. “That sounds good. I’m interested”- So if you aren’t interested in the job, don’t move forward! Be true to yourself. There is nothing more that pisses me off than someone who goes through the screening interview and says they want to take next steps and are nowhere to be found after you talked. You don’t have to commit if you are unsure. I am okay with someone thinking about the opportunity and exploring further.

Hopefully these things helped. I know they sound basic, but they happen way too frequently. Getting through the screening interview is just the first step. Once you get past that, you have a slew of additional questions. If you somehow make it to the next rounds and say these things, you will not get very far. Trust me.