What HR People Won’t Tell You About the Job Interview

Human resource pros tell you what to do—and what not to do—when meeting to discuss an employment opportunity.

Plus: What Does Your Office Say About Your Work Style?

1. “It’s amazing when people come in for an interview and say, ‘Can you tell me about your business?’ Seriously, people. There’s an Internet. Look it up.” –HR professional in New York City

2. “A lot of managers don’t want to hire people with young kids, and they use all sorts of tricks to find that out, illegally. One woman kept a picture of two really cute children on her desk even though she didn’t have children [hoping job candidates would ask about them]. Another guy used to walk people out to their car to see whether they had car seats.” –Cynthia Shapiro, former human resources executive and author of Corporate Confidential: 50 Secrets Your Company Doesn’t Want You to Know

3. “Is it harder to get the job if you’re fat? Absolutely. Hiring managers make quick judgments based on stereotypes.  They’re just following George Clooney’s character in Up in the Air, who said ‘I stereotype. It’s faster.’” –Suzanne Lucas, a former HR executive and the Evil HR Lady on bnet.com

4. “I once had a hiring manager who refused to hire someone because the job required her to be on call one weekend a month and she had talked in the interview about how much she goes to church. Another candidate didn’t get hired because the manager was worried that the car he drove wasn’t nice enough.” –HR professional at a midsize firm in North Carolina

5. “Don’t just silence your phone for the interview. Turn it all the way off.” –Sharlyn Lauby, HR consultant in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

6. “If you’ve got a weak handshake, I make a note of it.” –HR manager at a medical-equipment sales firm

7. “If you’re a candidate and the hiring manager spends 45 minutes talking about himself, the company or his Harley, let him. He’s going to come out of the interview saying you’re a great candidate.”  –Kris Dunn, chief human resources officer at Atlanta-based Kinetix, who blogs at hrcapitalist.com

Plus:
Surprising Field Where Job Opportunities Abound

What Job Will You Be Most Successful At? Your Contribution Style Will Tell

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67 thoughts on “What HR People Won’t Tell You About the Job Interview

  1. Is it any wonder why HR always hires the wrong people and pisses off the whole outfit? We need to get rid of people that don’t add value and pretend to serve a managerial function.

  2. Sounds like a requirement for an HR manager is having BPD, narcissism and schizoid personality type.

  3. The human resources professionals are talking about what they’ve witnessed hiring managers do. They are not talking about themselves.

  4. I agree with a lot of these, except the bit about, “There’s an internet. Look it up.” The internet, company website and profiles do not explain the atmosphere. The mission statement doesn’t correspond to whether or not the company is a good fit for an employee. A potential candidate has the right to information about the company. And yes, HR is under just as much scrutiny. If the company has a baseball team, and the environment is cold and corporate, I want to know. If your company is casual and your focus is camaraderie, then I want to know. If you have strict policies, I would like to know what and why. People want and deserve the opportunity to reject the potential employer, too. Job hunting is not all about the employer.

    1. I like to ask, my potential boss, what their management style is; it’s amazing what they come up with, and it gives me a chance to relax.

  5. No wonder people of talent aren’t getting hired. What is this? How embarrassing for HR staff.

  6. What HR also won’t tell you is that they are god awful for a company and have no clue how to do the job that they are hiring for.

  7. I have three degrees. I earned my first one in 1993. I truly believe that’s what keeps me from even getting calls back when I submit a resume; HR sees I graduated in 1993 and does the math. As you can see by the above article, HR managers really do discriminate based on age. In my field, most of the positions are taken by young, hip kids without families or obligations. Middle aged people are considered less healthy, more involved/invested in their families, etc. Truth is, I pose none of the inherent risks of being middle aged. I’m in relatively good health, I don’t drink or smoke, and I am never married with no children. I have decided to take my first degree off my resume because (a) it is not relevant to my career now (I went back to school at 34 and got a second Bachelor’s and then a Master’s in my chosen field) and (b) doing so will be less likely to reveal my age. I’m also only going to go as far back as 2009 for my work experience. Even though I have 25 years in the workforce and bring to the table a myriad of work and life experience, if I put work history back to 1988, they’re going to figure out how old I am. And frankly, I’m tired of being rejected. I’ll fill in the blanks in the interview. Right now I don’t even get that far.

    I’m also overweight, but since I only got called for one interview out of the two dozen or so resumes I’ve sent, I don’t know that I was discriminated against for that. Nevertheless I have lost a lot of weight and am much less overweight than I was before (I had weight loss surgery and am now about 60 pounds from my goal weight). It’ll be interesting to see what happens on the job hunt in future months.

    1. As a professional with more than 20 years of experience
      personally helping people of all ages and backgrounds land good jobs at all levels, the following might be useful.

      The most important issues are: how to get interviews with someone that can hire you, and how to get evaluated on the basis of factors that will be the most likely to influence a positive hiring decision.

      Resumes usually get screened out unless they are from people
      who are currently employed in the same or a similar position in the same industry as that of the hiring company. Thus, they are not an
      effective tool to use to try and get interviews. Instead, here’s a more effective approach.

      Send a marketing letter directly to the hiring
      authority. Do not include a resume with it. Tell the hiring authority about some of things you can do to help him and his company reach their business financial goals faster…as the RESULT of your education and experience.

      Tell him that you’ll be glad to come by for a brief visit to
      tell him more about what you can do for him.

      If he responds to you, he’ll either invite you in or ask for
      a resume. If he asks for a resume, just send a standard, no-frills resume.

      For more reality-based tips and pointers, send an email to CareerKeysMan@gmail.com

      TOM KELLUM

      Job Hunter’s Consultant & Strategist

    2. Eat a piece of fruit, or a vegetable every two hours until 10pm at night. You will loose that weight like crazy. I did, and the first week I lost 7 pounds. In total, I lost over 40 pounds in 2 months; then I started hitting the gym. After two months I started reintroducing foods a little at a time, and made sure I didn’t go back to fast food.

    3. Many of the “Kids” today that are working are jealous of your knowledge, and are afraid you will show them up and prove they don’t know as much as they think they do.

  8. A lot of this stuff is not common and some of it is quite ridiculous. So much of it is arbitrary and demonstrates how incompetent many HR people are.

  9. Bad economy, mean,bankrupcy,shame enough with all these adjectives stop whining and get to work.

  10. I guess I am thankful that I picked a good career.  I have interviewed three times, LITERALLY, in 15 years and have gotten every job with one interview.   I am selective about who I choose to interview with, and do not want to talk to HR people.  I want to talk ONLY to the hiring manager.  The HR person can process my paperwork when I get hired, and can also help me with benefits, etc.   Not only do I research the companies that I interview with, but I heavily research the interviewer, and find out their hobbies and likes, then try to figure out a way to work it into the conversation.  Establishing common ground, etc.  I will modify a resume’ to every different job posting and company.  I keep approximately 9 version s of my resume’, and still find myself massaging the resume’ to the job.

  11. I have had many occasions behind closed doors where the candidate confides in me and asks after I tell the female that my male boss will be in to meet her in a couple of days, “If I wear a low cleavage or revealing top, will that make my chances better?”  Seriously!  She has no clue- He is GAY!!

  12. Be careful of places that always hiring as well. It’s not worth your time. It also says, that people don’t stay there long because of internal situations, due to management, or their not making money.  A lot of places, right now, are hiring many employees for part time because they want to get out of Obama Care.  

  13. While these are frustrating to read, if an employer doesn’t really want you, you probably don’t want to work there.  These say more about the level of internal culture decay than they do about you not getting hired.  Most of these tactics show that the hiring manager is a person I wouldn’t want to work for and, most likely, will not be successful in the long run.  

  14. Since HR people are so blindsided by their egos, find out which staffing company handles employee hiring for the company and go through them. They are eager to place you for the right reasons, and they will collect a handsome fee from the company hiring. Network with friends too.

  15. Complacency breeds contempt.  I’d like to see what would happen to these HR clowns if they lost their jobs.  The invisible barriers they create are pitiful.

  16. Unreal, how do people that do this to the public sleep at night?  Judeing people by kids, weight etc?  Shame on you all.  Karma will come back!

    1. These people are gross. Shame on them. They even posted their names. I would never hire them. Shameful and disgusting.

  17. What is the HR manager is the one with the weak handshake, then what do you do?  LOL!!    

  18. If your field is really really in demand, say for instance a software developer, NEVER, EVER place co-workers as references.  We will call them and RECRUIT them. Many times I had friends competing for the same jobs.  Recruitesr need to make as many submittals for a postion as possible.

  19. I personally have been turned down for a position last year because in the past I made too much money (5-6 years ago made 90K).  I was unemployed for 1 year after that and have been underemployed for the last 3 years (making 45K a year) and working two jobs.  I was also called out for working two jobs.  The employers concern is that I would continue working at least one of the two jobs in addition to the career I was seeking with the new company.  Ridiculous!   I did it out of necessity to make ends meet.  I also have been recently ruled out by a recruiter for ADP because I currently do not make enough money to even interview for a position (no joke).  The recruiter was very interested in my background and experience and when I told her what I currently made, she couldn’t get me off the phone fast enough using that as a reason.  I work in sales and am at 140% of quota in current position with a 70 million dollar company a year.  Industry just doesn’t pay well.  Its discrimination against a persons income level.  What does it have to do with actually being able to perform and excell in the position?  NOTHING!  They are weeding people out from the interview process based on income not based on their experience and ability (which is what should be happening). 

    1. I know this is old, but the reason the recruiter wanted you off the phone so fast was becaused he/she was being paid on commission.

      They’re trained to negotiate with their client using your current salary as a base salary you will accept a job for. If they think you will accept a job for a low salary, you are worth less to them because they make less commission.

  20. if ur interview is faster then 5 minutes YOUR NOT HIRED! if they dont care to tell you about themselfs and the job YOUR NOT HIRED!

  21. UGH! What sucks is I always felt some of the jobs that I was offered and way under qualified were only because I was young and pretty. Now the I am older and slightly overweight, but way more qualified, I am not finding work. I disagree with the small children thing though. I have seen that work to my advantage. You have to play that card right. It shows stability and that you will be with a company for a long time. Really the only answer is to stick it to the man and work for yourself. Start your own business or do consulting work. 

  22. My thoughts about HR trickery ~~~ if a company is going to be playing mindgames with me, i don’t want to be working for them any way.  I am honest and forthright and care about people and i want to work with a company who is that way, also —- a company i can trust.

  23.  #2 : I’ll be sure not to ever take my wife’s 15-passenger van to an interview: we outgrew the Suburban a couple kids ago! :)

    #3 : I work 12-16 hour days, no time for exercise. I’ll be sure to only apply at companies where the hiring manager is overweight.

    #6 : And don’t tell them you have a weak handshake due to carpal tunnel…

    #7 : Too true! Got my current job that way.

    1. Bull. I work 60 hour work weeks which require me to run all over Los Angeles (so as you can imagine, add 12 hour work days + at least 5-8 more hours a week of city traffic alone). I have 2 children, and I am still able to get home, cook dinner, clean, spend time with family, and get an hour’s worth of cardio in. 5-6 days a week. I’m not rich and I don’t have a nanny.

      Even if time is an issue, if you have time to spend with your family, that family time can be doing something active. For most people “family time” is watching tv and/or eating food.

  24. This is absolutely disgusting. To think that HR creeps would deny someone a job based on the car they drive, or how much they weight makes me want to vomit. How can anyone with morals and ethics deny someone the right to provide a life for themselves (or children). This kind of sh*t is exactly what’s wrong with the world. No wonder the economy’s busted and so many people are losing it.

  25.  This is why I work for myself now. Self-employed and loving it! It’s the way to go people!

  26.  

    I have been employed at the New York State Department of
    Transportation for a decade. I can tell you first hand that it is the most disgusting
    quagmire of homosexual creatures on the face of this earth, most of whom sit
    around doing absolutely nothing but play with each other all day, day in and
    day out. I have known a better class of people in prison. YOUR TAX DOLLARS ARE BEING
    SUCKED AWAY!

    1. So you used to be in prison and now you work for the Government? In this Administration that makes perfect sense I guess…

  27. Its a shame that someone will not hire you because of weight; that is probably whats is happening to me. I guess my master’s in business, BA in human resources and 20 years of customer experience dont matter when you are overweight. To employers out there- Extra pounds is not a deterent to make people loose their knowledge and skills!

    1. no, but spelling is; ‘lose’ is spelled w/ one ‘o’, you spelt the word as if something is coming loose… 

        1. Look it up, he’s right spelt is the past tense of “spell” using spelled all the time is silly for anyone who isn’t in elementary school. 

          1. I love it when pedants invalidate the opinions of others based on their  grammar. I especially love it when these pedantic fools can’t construct a proper sentence themselves! Run-on sentence, anyone?

          2. I love it when pedants invalidate the opinions of others based on their  grammar. I especially love it when these pedantic fools can’t construct a proper sentence themselves! Run-on sentence, anyone?

          3. only used in Britain. sorry. In American English, spelt primarily refers to the hardy wheat grown mostly in Europe.

        2. Look it up, he’s right spelt is the past tense of “spell” using spelled all the time is silly for anyone who isn’t in elementary school. 

        3. Look it up, he’s right spelt is the past tense of “spell” using spelled all the time is silly for anyone who isn’t in elementary school. 

        4. Look it up, he’s right spelt is the past tense of “spell” using spelled all the time is silly for anyone who isn’t in elementary school. 

          1. In American English, spelt primarily refers to the hardy wheat grown mostly in Europe.

      1. Grammar is, too; all three pedantic replies to this post are run-on sentences!

      2. It is easier to remember that lose(as in lost) has a “z” sound instead of an “s”.

      3. And you can’t spell either so why you running your mouth!!!!!! Spelt…..lol-some people……

  28. Wow, when did HR become so mean? It seems cruel to deny someone a job if they’re experienced and qualified just because they’ve had to declare bankruptcy. In this economy many people have been forced out of long standing careers and lost everything. Bankruptcy today isn’t necessarily a barometer of an individual’s capability to do the job. And ironically, these are the very people who need a job the most.

  29. Wow, when did HR become so mean? It seems cruel to deny someone a job if they’re experienced and qualified just because they’ve had to declare bankruptcy. In this economy many people have been forced out of long standing careers and lost everything. Bankruptcy today isn’t necessarily a barometer of an individual’s capability to do the job. And ironically, these are the very people who need a job the most.

    1. that’s the way it is in a bad economy. at 59 i’ve been thru this cycle crud about 5 times. they just have that many choices.  you have to have a skill these days.  mine is industrial mechanic skills and there are less than 800,000 with master skills.  when i have had to look for a new job HR acts like i must have forgotten a lifetime of skills in 2 months so i am worth less. when things pick up after our most recent Republican economy blitzkrieg we can go back to our pick of jobs. (5 years)

    2. that’s the way it is in a bad economy. at 59 i’ve been thru this cycle crud about 5 times. they just have that many choices.  you have to have a skill these days.  mine is industrial mechanic skills and there are less than 800,000 with master skills.  when i have had to look for a new job HR acts like i must have forgotten a lifetime of skills in 2 months so i am worth less. when things pick up after our most recent Republican economy blitzkrieg we can go back to our pick of jobs. (5 years)

    3. that’s the way it is in a bad economy. at 59 i’ve been thru this cycle crud about 5 times. they just have that many choices.  you have to have a skill these days.  mine is industrial mechanic skills and there are less than 800,000 with master skills.  when i have had to look for a new job HR acts like i must have forgotten a lifetime of skills in 2 months so i am worth less. when things pick up after our most recent Republican economy blitzkrieg we can go back to our pick of jobs. (5 years)

    4. that’s the way it is in a bad economy. at 59 i’ve been thru this cycle crud about 5 times. they just have that many choices.  you have to have a skill these days.  mine is industrial mechanic skills and there are less than 800,000 with master skills.  when i have had to look for a new job HR acts like i must have forgotten a lifetime of skills in 2 months so i am worth less. when things pick up after our most recent Republican economy blitzkrieg we can go back to our pick of jobs. (5 years)

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