Interview Tip: Don’t forget hygiene (Contest winners announced in post!)

by Rich DeMatteo on October 22, 2009 · 37 comments

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BodyOdor1(Towards the bottom of this post you’ll find details for a contest, prizes included)

Winners Announced at the bottom!

Basic hygiene means taking showers daily, coating our underarms with deodorant, and spraying nice smelling cologne or perfume on our body (even if you are still using Cool Water).  Keeping oneself well groomed, with freshly brushed teeth and neat finger nails are other obvious learned duty’s.  Our entire lives we make it a habit to take care of basic hygiene, and I’d like to thank (most of) humanity for doing a pretty damn good job, however, through my career adventures I’ve been forced into conversations with those who needed a quick hygiene reminder.  Awkward?  Just call me Larry David.

I’m going to have to ask you to take a shower”

I know I’m not alone, plenty of others in the recruiting industry have started off a conversation with similar words.  For me, these talks came mostly when I was working in a staffing agency, supplying out IT contractors to my clients.  Client managers would send messages like:

“Jim works hard, has strong technical knowledge, and works well with customers, but people here have complained about the way he smells.”

I’d also receive similar comments after certain candidates completed an interview.  ”You have the job, but you need to shower more often.”  There’s no way to beat around the bush when completing a “hygiene prep-talk”.  You need to nip it straight in the bud, and hope the other person accepts the truth.  Luckily, the last couple years I have been free of communicating any sort of hygiene reminder.

The point of this is just to serve as a reminder to everyone to watch your hygiene.  It’s just as important as the way you dress for an interview and can cost you the job.

Contest Time

Welcome to the first contest on CornOnTheJob!  Rules for participation:

  • Send in a comment below regarding a work related hygiene issue.
  • Don’t mention the name of your target.  No need to be specific.  Your target might even be YOU, if that’s the case just make up a name.
  • The contest will run until Tuesday, October 26th at 12 PM.  At that time I will put all of the names in a hat and pick our winner!

Prizes:

  • First Place – A brand new stick of Axe deodorant, and 2 CornOnTheJob magnets!!  Bling Bling!
  • Runner-up – 2 CornOnTheJob magnets!

* Please note that I will pay for shipping.  This is serious people.  Very, very serious.

Winners

  • Runner Up – Sabera
  • 1st Place and Champion – Andrew

Thanks to everyone that participated.  Your comments were hilarious, disgusting, and brilliant.  Please keep an eye out for future contests, and your chance to win more incredible prizes!

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35 comments
Laila Birdwell
Laila Birdwell

I undoubtedly must think a lot more in that way to see a few things i can do about this.

Andrew Parkes
Andrew Parkes

Wow - what an honour to win!! I want to first thank the Academy... then my Mom & Dad... Seriously, thanks!

Sabera
Sabera

Whoa! I NEVER win anything. Thanks for the runner-up prize! :-D I will proudly add the Corn on th Job magnet to my heavily adorned fridge. :-)

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Sabera, great comment! Sometimes we need to know when to suck it up and just concentrate on maybe an important issue at hand. In your case, learning was more important than the awful smell. Thanks for the comment!

Sabera
Sabera

The comments here are absolutely hilarious! My work-related hygiene issue made it incredibly difficult for me to work with a colleague, who very frankly, I loved for his brilliant ideas and client management skills. He was a smoker and, as if the very smell of nicotine emanating from his clothes after every break he took wasn't enough, his breath smelt of a mixture of crap and stale food. To further add to the melange of odors in the cubicle, he often took his feet out from his shoes, and it goes without saying - they stank too. It took me while to tell myself to JUST IGNORE THE ODORS and start concentrating on learning from the man already. I'm glad I did. He was an excellent mentor.

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Anybody ready for a math equation? Great resume + Smell of Ass = No Job I'm ready for #3, Marty. Give it some thought and then send us some gold.

Marty McDonald
Marty McDonald

#2 "Ummm can we use this guy" Another Recruiter brings a candidate through the office to the interview room. As he walks past the rest of the team catches a HUGE whiff of bad B.O. The kind that lingers and is unmistakable BAD B.O. Recruiter finishes interview and grabs the hiring manager/project manager for a quick meeting. 30 seconds later the Manager comes out and the Recruiter finishes up and sends the candidate on his way. Recruiter sits down to talk to the rest of the team to get feed back and hears: " Your candidate has a great resume but we can't use him... he smells like ass"

Marty McDonald
Marty McDonald

Ok... I have 3 quick stories but I might not be able to publish the 3rd until I figure out some creative ways to state how stinky that one was! #1- "The Hey I smell good stink!" So everyone thinks that the bad interview or co-worker experience needs to be stinky B.O.... I submit to you the B.O. cover up with a gallon of cologne Comba. I have had the privilege of both, So lucky! This one particular interview stands out in my head... The interview starts and I begin thinking "wow, this guy has a ton of cologne on" about 2 minutes into the interview, I realize my eyes are watering from the over powering stench of cologne... then it hits me the mix of BO and cologne. Now first whiff you are unsure if your mind is playing tricks on you... is it the cologne screwing up my nose or is this a "cologne mask" that this candidate is wearing? Interview continues on for another 5 minutes and I reach back an open the window a crack, pretending I am warm. At the 10 minute mark I get the second whiff of B.O. "yep stink is confirmed" and it is a Stink to end all stinks, a combo of wet dog, bologna and day old hockey gear (yes that bad)... now I need to finish this interview pronto... my eyes are watering and the underlying B.O. is BAD, REALLY BAD. At this point I reach out grab an application form and reference sheet give it to the candidate and ask him to fill it out, while I leave the interview room. THANK GOD Fresh air. I walk out and the office manager/receptionist is looking at me and says: "how bad does that guy smell, at first I thought it was the cologne but he stunk up the whole reception area!" As she sprays glade all over the place. (cue Seinfeld reference)... Reluctantly I walk back in grab the forms and begin to walk "stinky" out of the office. I exchange the normal formalities and send him on his way. Total of 20 minutes and that smell is seared permanently into my mind for life. Head back to the office and since it was a small office it hit everyone... all windows were open and lots of spraying going on! Horrible. Interview tips #1 don't stink, C'mon Maaan, be a good member of society #2 don't wear too much cologne period. Many people are sensitive to strong smells, the last thing you want to do is be the best candidate and lose because you stink. ( even if it is a nice perfume or Cologne) #3 NEVER, EVER, WEAR COLOGNE OR PERFUME TO COVER UP B.O.

Matt Cheuvront
Matt Cheuvront

We have a "maintenance" guy who religiously smells of grain alcohol and ass. I'm not talking BO, this is BEYOND BO - It's BBO (Seinfeld reference). Very rarely do you come across someone with an odor that inhibits proper breathing, but this is one of those cases. Take a frickin' shower man, seriously. How do you live with yourself? (End Rant)

Elisa
Elisa

I think anyone who has "that" co-worker that multi-tasks their lunch break with a run has experienced the grossness of hygiene. My first job out of college...oh yeah, I WAS that co-worker. I'd go running in the on-site gym during lunch and jump in the shower afterwards. Unfortunately, being a girl there's the whole "can't get your head wet" thing (wet long hair, wet makeup, etc.) so I'd never wash above my shoulders. Just some dry shampoo and go. Til I saw a photo of a happy hour and realized what that looked like. Ummm...why don't friends ever tell friends when they look disgusting?! Needless to say, the 45 minute run became a 35 minute run to work in time for getting ready (again) for work. :)

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Why do that at work? I guess because I'm a man and don't pay my toenails, I must not realize how time consuming it is? Thanks for your comment, Bridget!

Bridget Marie
Bridget Marie

I have coworkers who paint their nails at work. It makes the office smell like a nail salon. I don't really mind it so I've never said anything. But I mean, it could be done at home. Lol

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Sheila - thanks for the comment. Well, that's disturbing. Spitting anything in the office, let alone another persons cubicle is pretty nasty.

sheila aka benefits betty
sheila aka benefits betty

i had a male coworker who liked to chew the skin off his fingers and spit the skin on the floor of my cubicle to gross me out. it worked. also, he just got promoted.

Sharalyn Hartwell
Sharalyn Hartwell

I never saw it, but everyone at my old office claimed a colleague literally had a booger wad. No joke....they said he picked his nose and kept it all in a wad on the desk. I never dared look closely enough at his desk to see. I did catch him in a pick once though... Super gross...

Andrew Parkes
Andrew Parkes

I have worked with 2 people that clip their finger and/or toe nails at work. This drives me absolutely nuts.

Gus
Gus

I went to ask a woman I worked with a question. Mid conversation, she decided to start using nasal spray. It threw me off for a couple seconds, and I just couldn't remember what she answered me with.

Jenny
Jenny

I worked with a woman once who came to work with her head shaved and a wig in hand. I'd assume that this fits into the hygiene aspect? Coffee breath is another killer. Hello. Feed your caffeine addiction but spare us all. Chew on some spearmint.

Lorraine Ranalli
Lorraine Ranalli

Too funny, but serious, of course! I would like to share with COTJ readers a very helpful tip that I learned while sitting in the audience of a video production. (The person on the set, under the hot stage lights, shared this little secret.) My contribution is purely altruistic, so please do not enter my name in the contest as I do not wish decrease the other contributors' odds of winning. This tip can be applied to anyone, but men might find it most helpful as they typically sweat more than women. This is also very beneficial to anyone who frequently speaks or presents before groups of people. Are you ready? Here it is: To avoid the embarrassment of sweaty armpits, as demonstrated in the above picture, place a pantyliner on the pits of your dress shirt. Please Note: *The liners should be used in conjunction with your deodorant, not in place of. *Liners with wings might work best for you. *Men should consult their girlfriends or wives on this matter. *Avoid liners with deodorant. We don't you want you smelling like a French whorehouse. Have a terrifically dry day!

Erika
Erika

Haha wow..... well..... I don't need any COTJ magnets (no offense, it's just that I have a stainless steel fridge that is non-magnetic) and I don't need any deodorant (I buy in bulk when it goes on sale lol)..... but I have had a few very bad hygiene situations at work! It's understandable for clients to be stinky when they are finished working out, but I have met a few that stunk before exercising, as in during everyday life! On the other hand, I have met a few training clients that mentioned leaving their former trainers because they had stinky breathe. They couldn't take their dragon breath trainer breathing down on them!

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Sabera, I'll message you privately to get your address so that I can send your prize!

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

I knew I could count on you for a great smell story. The "way too much" cologne smell is just as overpowering sometimes as BO, but when they are combined it's like chemical warfare. I don't want to hear anyone say that recruiting isn't dangerous. The story you presented above clearly proves just how risky a business it can be. One man contaminated an entire office. Good for you for sticking with the interview, and getting him successfully out the door. Loved the day old hockey equipment reference. Most of the guys I coach refuse to wash any of their equipment, and one of them even wears the same socks to every game. It's terrible, so referencing that really hit home for me. Thanks, Marty!

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Thanks for the Seinfeld reference! So bad that it inhibits breathing can be seen as a safety issue. Hmm, sounds like someone over there may need to have a talk with the maintenance guy. How about you, Matt? Want to take one for the team and have a hygiene talk with Mr. Maintenance?

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

I wish that companies that I worked for had a gym. Also, there goes another reason why I'm happy to be a man. My hair dries with one swift motion of the towel! Thanks for the comment, Elisa!

Marty McDonald
Marty McDonald

Yep.. been there too! Unreal... I have seen a lot of things both good and bad.

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Thanks for the comment Andrew. I have trouble understanding clipping finger nails, so I really have no tolerance for someone taking care of their toe nails. Wow. That's bad.

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

That's pretty funny. I think I'd have about the same reaction..

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Hmm, I do think that counts as a matter of hygiene. That story is Hair-larious

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Thanks for your tip Lorraine. If I see a sweaty dude on the street, I'll drop the pantyliner hint. That in itself could be an awkward conversation.

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Erika - no offense but you will receive any price that you win. I'm sure you have friends that could use a magnet, and it's a lovely magnet. Oh, a lifting partner with bad breath is not fun. I can understand why they might want t find another trainer.

Elisa
Elisa

You have hair? :)

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Really?! People do this? It's common? Questions? Why? Barf.

Jenny
Jenny

It was one of those "ummm am I allowed to laugh? or is this lady seriously losing her marbles in real time, right now?" Although, she was NOT wearing hot pants. So I'll give her that much.

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