This is a guest post from Sarah White. Sarah is the Cheif Strategy Officer at HRMDirect. You can find Sarah on Twitter @ImSoSarah, and check out her HR, HR Technology, and Recruiting blog over at ImSoCorporate.com.
One day, not that long ago, I was a college student. I remember how anxious I was when I was going through on campus interviews and trying to get a “real” job or even a “real” internship. What if I said this wrong, how should I word that, does this suit make me look fat, I hope I don’t smell like incense, should I really have used that pink letterhead the guy at kinkos talked me into….and the list went on and on.
After college I became a recruiter and not far out of school I started doing some college recruiting…and now on to the most uncomfortable interview by the best candidate story….
I’ll never forget my very first college campus recruiting visit to Michigan State. It was fall and I was looking for a super star. I had gone through the resumes, the emails, the cover letters and narrowed it down to 3 candidates for the open slots. I liked them all, but one girl was an obvious stand out. She was president of her sorority, on leadership of 4 professional organizations, had completed 2 prior internships, had a 3.98 GPA (4.0 in major), worked part time and still had time to volunteer. When she walked in the room she was polished, poised and looked like she had just stepped out of magazine. With every question I asked, she won me over more and more – her answers were concise, educated, deliberate and natural. Nothing seemed rehearsed or practiced.
As we wrapped up the 30 minute interview, I casually asked her, “Of all of the accomplishments you have – what is the one thing you are most proud of?” This was not an interview question. This was me, a little in awe that someone had accomplished so much by 20 and was so poised compared to the other candidates I had talked to. Her response was one that I will never, ever forget.
In a room FULL of recruiters and other students interviewing for positions she uncrossed and recrossed her legs, slid her hand through her hair before tossing it to the side in an uncomfortably seductive way, tilted her head and with a grin said “I’m the only virgin in my sorority”. The comment was followed up with a little mix between a shoulder nod and shimmy and regardless of what it was, it was awkward.
The room went silent. I was only 22 and they all looked at me then her then me then her trying to decide who just said that statement outloud. I was 8 shades of red and she was clueless at just how inappropriate that statement was.
JOBSEEKERS: Please know we want you to succeed if we bring you in for an interview. Try hard, do your homework, look nice, but we are really hoping you just don’t fuc@ it up. Seriously. Have some common sense. This is my one random story, but I know enough recruiters that I’ve had a beverage with that have shared other stories with me of equally embarrassing and inappropriate statements made that ruin an otherwise perfect candidates shot.