IT Employment

Beware of crazy recruiter tricks

One CEO has his receptionist check out the state of a job candidate's car as a means of gauging his or her "character." Read about this and other crazy interviewer ploys.

As I write this blog, I have sparks coming off my head. No, I'm not currently on fire, but I am very angry about something I just read -- Hiring tricks that job seekers must know, by Maria Hanson for LiveCareer. I'm not blaming the author because I think she was just quoting her sources, but oh my gosh, what a bunch of pretentious snobs she interviewed for this piece.

Let me start by saying that there are certain external characteristics a job candidate should be concerned with when going into an interview -- be neat and clean, turn your PDA off during the interview, and leave the pint of Jack Daniels in your briefcase.

But seriously? One of the article's sources claims she knows a corporate president who would find out which car belonged to the candidate he was interviewing and have his receptionist check it out to see how neat and clean it was. In this case, the CEO considered a messy car a sign of a bad character.

Hmm. Maybe the owner is a working parent who has a hour-long commute to and from work every day, and the rest of the time uses the car to transport kids to soccer games and dogs to the vet and all the other things that should take priority over Armor All-ing the dashboard. But I'm not bitter.

The second trick? Some recruiters keep job candidates waiting so they can see how they handle their spare time. Playing games on your phone is apparently cause for concern. A source for the story advises, "Take care in choosing an appropriate activity. For example, reviewing your resume or an industry publication would be a good choice." I'm a little concerned about how they're watching you. Is there a camera hidden in the receptionist's stapler, or is the receptionist herself or himself a member of the Gestapo?

Last, be sure you watch your manners because some recruiters are keeping an eye out. One in particular did not hire a person because during a lunch interview he cut his meat all at once instead of one piece at a time. Unless he was hiring for Emily Post, what possible difference would that make?

One good piece of advice in the article is that recruiters will sometimes try to bait job candidates into gossiping. Do not sink to that even if the recruiter seems to be alright with it.

The good thing about these recruiter tactics is that it allows job candidates to weed out the loser companies they wouldn't possibly want to work with anyway.

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About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

160 comments
JadeCocoon
JadeCocoon

Job agents tend to know a lot less about the jobs than their clients and candidates. Many of the agents have no tertiary qualifications yet interview and shortlist highly qualified candidates. They rarely base their shortlists on genuine merit. They aggressively assert that something is important (when it isn?t) then claim that all other agents have that view (when they don?t). An agent refused to tell me who the employer for the job would be, then went on to say that no agencies would give that information to a candidate. Other agents I?ve encountered did give me that information. The agent also told me that the person who previously held that job was leaving because she couldn?t cope with the ?strong personality? of her employer. An agent asked me ?How would you describe yourself?? After answering, she threw a tantrum, telling me that I didn?t answer it properly and that no agent would accept my answer. Every other agent I?ve encountered appeared fine with my answer. Some even referred me on to their client for a second interview. An agent interviewing me talked a lot about the credit crisis but not much about the actual job or my skills. He told me that he would get back to me that day but never did. An agent got angry at me for not wearing a suit jacket and tie to an interview in the middle of summer. When I calmly explained why I didn?t think it was a good idea, she threw a tantrum and called me stupid. Every other agent I?ve encountered seemed fine with the way I dressed. Despite having invited me for an interview, an agent told me (at the interview) that I wouldn?t get the job because I had included my grade history in my CV. An agent got me doing tests online (over several days) in order to be invited for an interview. I did very well in the tests, so she decided to interview me. At the interview she asserted that I would find the job boring (due to my impressive test results), so she decided not to refer me to the client. It seems to me that many job agents want to dumb society down to their level. Several agents have asked me what my ideal role is. They then told me I wouldn?t be referred to the client because they think I would find the job boring (even though I thought that I wouldn?t find the job boring). Those agents have a very poor command of the English language. They seem to think that an ?ideal role? is the least favoured role someone would settle for. Most agents I?ve encountered are f?n useless.

Kam Guerra
Kam Guerra

Salary: I've lost count about the number of positions on the major jobs boards (Monster, CareerBuilder, HotJobs, Indeed, TheLadders, etc, etc, etc) where the salary is fluffed anywhere from 2x to 4x the actual rate to just get people to apply for it. Location: The position was advertised as being in Crystal City, Arlington VA - only to find out on the first day of working there that it was a "typo" and the actual work was in Tysons Corner, McLean, VA. Just a few miles away. Equipment: Have you ever tried to get a company to commit to paying for development equipment or the software to do the job? Good look. Benefits: The recruiter may send you a few notes about the wonderful benefits with the company, but they "oh-by-the-way" after you start is that not every employee position has benefits that transfer from one project to another one. Health Provider lock-in: Try getting a company to disclose that they don't lock-in to the provider closest to the work site. Recruiters just tell you everyone is just wonderful and awesome. Travel reimbursement: Recruiters may claim that it all travel is reimbursed - that is until a manager is down on his profit numbers, and all travel expenses aren't reimbursed - but you're still required to go.

rwillbanks
rwillbanks

I was a recruiter way back when and spent over 15 years in the staffing industry. Sadly, it is my experience that there are just too many "human" factors that play into the recruiting process. It is anything but scientific. Did the candidate go to the same university as the hiring manager? Does he look like the kid who stole his lunch money in elementary? Did the recruiter/hiring manager just get off the phone fighting with his/her spouse? Is the hiring manager afraid the candidate could take her job? And the list goes on. The bottom line: People hire people who they "like" and/or are like themselves... people they think they can get along with. And those dirty tricks you write of are truly dispiriting. For what it's worth, people who interview the best are not always the best workers. How do you measure perseverance? Moxy? Savvy? For all the pre-employment tests, assesments and the like... it is "people" who make the overriding hiring decision. So tell, me... really... is is an art or science?

bodhik
bodhik

Thats true, I faced same think happened to me recently in an interview (it was in a restaurant) when a glass of juice fell on the table that definitely was because of the unbalance table. I never heard back from this guy..

jemorris
jemorris

I went through all the posts and saw the "salting before you taste" trick mentioned, but these things do tell a hiring manager a bit about your personality. Cutting your meat completely up before you start eating it indicates an obsessive/compulsive personality, salting your food BEFORE you taste it indicates you probably jump to conclusions, completely eating one course of the meal at a time before starting another indicates single-mindedness and/or being obsessive and there are more I can't remember anymore. Went through a short course on resume' building and interviewing oh, about 25 yrs ago lot of interesting stuff there. I understand they even added a section on driving habits later on about what your driving would tell a hiring manager about you. I don't picture a situation though where I would be giving a hiring manager a ride?!?!

Drspectrum009
Drspectrum009

I've had some recruiters try to bait me into gossiping during the interview through asking me what I liked the least at my current/former job. But I go to work and school to work and learn it's as simple as that.

highlander718
highlander718

Of course I find it stupid for somebody to check out cars or spy on the waiting candidate. Still it baffles me how people find excuses to have a messy car (I'm not talking about the "special" cases of just returned from field trip or "using a messy friend's car while you give your spotless one in exchange" - yeah right ..). That just shows laziness however and whatever you want to call it. Why take a shower then, why cleaning your clothes and house ? Why wiping your a_s ?

jkameleon
jkameleon

... for American Psycho (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0144084/) kind of jobs. Jobs I've always avoided like a plague. Seriously, I'd rather drive forklifter for a living. So, in order to avoid this kind of jobs, I'll have to come to my job interviews in messy car (yuck!), play games on my phone while I wait (I've never done that, but it's never too late to learn), cut all my meat at once, and ... gossip? Nah, that's too much. I never gossip. A matter of principle.

Englebert
Englebert

Lunch manners are important, especially if the applicant is going to be lunching with clients. What you order is important as well. If you order messy clams or crabs or pizza with pina colada as a drink, that wont go down well (pardon the pun). Sorry folks, that's the way the cookie crumbles.

PMPsicle
PMPsicle

It's a crap shoot, and until people realize that it is complaints from the supply side will continue. Unfortunately, companies (i.e. lazy managers) have gotten into the habit of blaming when a hire goes wrong. Sorry but that's part of the game! I remember hiring for a construction company many years ago. We averaged 99% good hires but every once in a while ... (like the con man who stayed in the big hotel in town and left a cheque signed by a fictitious exec - the owner's first name and his father's first). The problem as you said, is that people keep looking for a way to guarantee that the person they hire is perfect for the job. And sometimes they go overboard trying. (The alternative is that after 6 mo. of hiring they realize what they're into and quit ... which is the other half of the manager problem). Scary thing is that I just listened to a marketing webinar (long story) in which the hiring specialist stated that we're doing job advertising all wrong. His contention was that rather than job description ads we should apply copywriting theory ... figure out who you want to apply, figure out what would interest them, then write an ad to attract that type of person. Personal opinion is that makes a heck of a lot of sense. Certainly beats the usual "Must have extensive knowledge of bank's IT policies and standards"! Glen Ford,PMP http://www.TrainingNOW.ca

SObaldrick
SObaldrick

But I was brought up to eat this way, and isn't this the system that most restaurants use? Can't remember going to a restaurant where the waiter asked me to order Wine, Appetizer, Entree, Desert and Aperitif, all at the same time. Ok, I lie, but it was an Indian restaurant and they were about to close. Les.

Shellbot
Shellbot

is BS teachings like that :) We all have quirks...would we want to hire someone who is so perfect that they are boring and lacking in all personality and individualism?? Had to chuckle at the "eating one food course at a time" thing..thats me. I segregate everything, the food cannot touch (unless its meant to..like pasta and sauce, potatoes and gravy)..and i eat it a specific order. I have to balance out what I liek the least, and eat that first, or what is going to go cold first.. a lot of thought actually goes into the eating sequence.. Maybe why I was attracted to working with databases?

BFilmFan
BFilmFan

If Texas and Georgia drivers gave interviewers rides while driving, I have a feeling that most recruiters would have white hair. Just picture a Houston or Atlanta driver say, "Do I get the job or do I keep driving up the interstate during rush hour here?" In fact, I like that idea a great deal. We could make a movie about it and call it Let's Scare (the) Interviewer to Death! Only time I can think someone might interview your driving skills is when the job literally involves driving.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

Are you a single father of two boys who are active in sports year round? Are you yourself active in sports? Do you spend an hour or two in the gym everyday? Do you spend hours studying? Are you constantly shuffling kids around on the weekend or doing activities because there is no significant other to help out? Granted my truck isn't filthy with trash everywhere. It is however splashed with trail mud from the weekend, a little dusty and has an assortment of various ball field leftovers (despite changing shoes) in the floor. I'm exhausted by the time I lay down and I'm lazy because my damn truck is dirty?

Sensor Guy
Sensor Guy

If you know you're not getting the job or if you don't want the job at all then by all means chow down! Being a messy animal might just clinch the deal if they want a messy bit twiddler to live 24x7 in the depths of the server room. If they think you're good, and they now are looking for ways to chain you to a job, showing them a little lack of class will help push them over the edge. They'll think they can throw some pieces of pizza into the server room now and then and the chained animal geek that can't find another job because of poor manners and drinking will be kept under control.... Top it off with a good expensive liqueur after lunch and tell them you need the drink "to keep the edge smooth" when dealing with users like your "line management" or even better...."HR wannabe IT experts". I suggest 150 year-old Grand Marnier blend...very classy....and expensive. That ought to clinch it! Unfortunately, it didn't work for me a year ago when I was trying my best to get let go as a contractor for the blue pig...at a team building dinner...the deputy PM just meekly paid the bill and I still had to stay and finish the project managed from hell.

Shellbot
Shellbot

Ooops.. On my part i mean components of the meal.. lets say chicken, potatoes, peas and carrots. The food cannot touch on the plate...peas annoy me, cause they always roll into yer other foods. Peas must be eaten first (to stop them rolling), then carrots, then potatoes then the chicken... Never never does that sequence differ...

neilb
neilb

But then who am I to diagnose anyone? If I ever have a "full English", I have to have at least one sausage - preferably two - between my beans and my egg. :)

jemorris
jemorris

I've eaten one course at a time since I was a kid, my kids do it too. And I know at times I can be a bit single minded, but I do not believe that to be one of my more prominent personality traits/quirks.

JamesRL
JamesRL

My only quirk is that I've picked up the habit, from all my time with Quebecers, that if there is a salad served with the main, I will eat it last. Kinda works as a palatte cleanser. But if the salad is served before the main, I don't wait. I don't care if my food touches, unless its two competing and non completmentary sauces. James

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

...of a Cajun co-worker from my first assignment to Germany, "Dey tree kin' bad dribah in de worl': de foo', de dam'foo', and de Suddenah."

SObaldrick
SObaldrick

I don't think anyone was saying that dirty truck is a sign of a slob. I think it was more associating untidiness in the work place with not keeping the interior of ot vehicle clean. Les.

highlander718
highlander718

in case you didn't notice, so I might have a natural aversion to messines :-), sorry.

highlander718
highlander718

you do sound like a special case, I grant you that. I mind the interior mess much more than the mud outside. The interior you KEEP clean, the outside is indeed harder to control, and if you really do all the things you mention I can see you havin a hard time keeping your car clean. But out of curiosity, do you have time to do laundry, are you cleaning your house ? I mean it takes much more time than cleaning your car ....

BFilmFan
BFilmFan

A new trick has been added to the mix which shall be known as the LeSesne Maneuver!

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

£ You have to use [i]£[/i] to do it. They won't render certain characters if you just enter them, but they [u]will[/u] render the html character set if you use the "&name;" syntax. etu

neilb
neilb

But good... :)

neilb
neilb

still occasionally crop up over here when someone uses a fancy font. My chances of having TR correctly render archaeology are pretty much nil. They can't even show a ? sign! :) That was intended to be a ? sign. Gah! it's a bloody pound sterling!

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

That way they don't roll around. ]:)

neilb
neilb

PeasMeatApplePeasPieCarrotts GraPeasevyCustarPeasdPotatoesPeas Bwahahahaha! Neil :) So, how do you get on with stew? Can you cope with it?

santeewelding
santeewelding

That in English, letters don't touch, and periods don't roll around. Else, we would not hear from you.

SObaldrick
SObaldrick

I like fried egg and I love baked beans, but together .. Uggg, worse than mixing dessert with beef stew. Les.

JamesRL
JamesRL

I will have to take you to Cora's for a Quebecois version of a full English. They have one called a Guargantuan which includes creton, a rough country pork pate which is best with mustard on rye toast. It also includes eggs, beans, sausage, ham and (streaky) bacon. Its not something you would eat everyday. James

Shellbot
Shellbot

oddly enough, my beans can touch my egg..cause I will douse them both in large amounts of ketchup.. however, the bean sauce cannot touch my sausage or bacon... I'm a freak..I fully admit it..

Shellbot
Shellbot

I've done it as long as i rememeber. i wouldn't call myself single minded as such, i just have a certian regime that i need to follow..or it doesn't "feel right".. with me it extends to other areas..like walking home..i cross the street in the exact spot each and every time, and if i am walking with someone else and they make me cross at a different spot, its really disconcerting... maybe James is right and i should get treatment :) hahaha..

Shellbot
Shellbot

thats just wrong..in so many ways.. I think I'd be ill if i was faced with that...

SObaldrick
SObaldrick

.. and another thing, which I mostly experience in the Southern US .. is people mixing fried/baked meat and dairy products on the same plate with dessert. Errr - Yuk! Les.

Shellbot
Shellbot

I like your attitude :) Totally agree about cannot be eaten if served with the wrong things.. hence my salad dilema... salad only goes with certain things..and should never be served with a main as chances are there will be conflict !!

ganyssa
ganyssa

but you're not alone :) Food has order. It cannot touch. Some things cannot be eaten at all if they are served with the wrong foods. Yeah, I have OCD, but it makes me good at my job. It's a skill, really.

Shellbot
Shellbot

I can't confirm that they have taste.. :D i think its the perception of taste that one attributes to the color.. :)

Shellbot
Shellbot

I eat the red ones last.. :) I have a color sequence that has to followed for m&m's, jellybeans ect... but not near as much thought goes into it! I eat the brown ones first cause I like them the least...then yellow, then orange, then blue, then green, then red.

SirWizard
SirWizard

I'm willing to be branded as a complete loony for food. When I have M&Ms, I eat them along the chromocline gradient toward maximal chromaticity. You're wondering, WTF? This is vaguely like translating a number into base 6. I set aside the bunch that contains equal numbers of each of the six colors. We'll assume a standard bag with six different colors, ignoring situations of seasonal color packs, the 2002 international vote for purple, and Colorworks selections of 21 colors. Then I set aside the bunch with equal numbers of the remaining five colors. This continues until there is a last bunch of the remaining single color, typically brown. I eat those first, followed by the two-color group, three-color group, and so forth. This leads to a progressively more colorful feast as I go along: brown brown, yellow brown, yellow, red brown, yellow, red, orange brown, yellow, red, orange, green (to the final glorious) brown, yellow, red, orange, green, blue The order I listed comes from percentage tallies over the years with 3-pound bags. The little snack bags are quite variable in their percentages of each color. I also maintain a small unconsumed collection of all the misprinted ones that say 3, i, n, r, y, and other variants that would make the otherwise ridiculous act of alphabetizing M&Ms into a non-trivial affair. And I still have some of the Millennium Edition with mm on each one "because MM is 2000." Of course, the actual third millennium didn't start until 2001.

Shellbot
Shellbot

I know James..but I resist :) Salad served with a main is always a dilema for me..often I will not eat it at all. Its worse James..I can only use certian utensils. I won't go into details as I don't want to be branded a complete loony :)

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Before I got the company truck, the car was full to the bottoms of the windows with parts, tools, and equipment. Does that count? ;) etu

highlander718
highlander718

are you also a single parent with 2 active kids to raise :-) ? You don't have to be obsessed to keep your car fairly clean. I never meant shiny, spotless clean 100% of the time, but at least without empty cans, pizza traces, all sorts of clothing and cigarette buts all over the place.

highlander718
highlander718

and we are fairly active, there is skiing in the winter, swiminglessons all year long, tennis lessons in the summer, trips and hiking once in a while, true nothing too muddy. What can I say, other than what I already did, I cannot judge a single parent with 2 kids to raise, it must be much harder. all the best,

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

My car would be clean. Mind you I make the boys do their fair share, as well. The inside is harder to keep clean than the outside for me. The only way to keep the inside clean 24/7 would be to spray everyone down before they get in. We're active, we get dirty and stuff gets dirty. I'm not the only exception. Many people with kids and physically active lifestyles suffer the same issues. Go to your local ballpark and scope out minivans, particularly at ballparks where kids are playing. 90% are dirty. It's not their choice, they're just busy. Believe me, it bothers me. When I was younger I always had a super clean hot rod. I was the guy shining up everything including his spare tire. Sometimes life demands that our priorities shift.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

[i]But out of curiosity, do you have time to do laundry, are you cleaning your house ? I mean it takes much more time than cleaning your car ...[/i] I live in my house and have to have clean clothes for work, so I put in the laundry, then clean. I think it's called multi-tasking. The car is simply transportation. It stays as clean as I remember to make it, but I don't obsess over it.

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