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

HR pros reveal job interview dos and dont’s.

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

Surprising Field Where Job Opportunities Abound

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

8. “Make sure you’re nice to everyone, especially the admin person at the front desk. If you’re not, we’ll hear about it.” –Michael Slade, HR director at Eric Mower and Associates, a marketing communications agency

9. “We do understand that sometimes your cat really is sick, or maybe you really did have stomach problems the morning of the interview. But we probably aren’t going to believe you.”  –Rich DeMatteo, a recruiting consultant in Philadelphia

10. “Never tell us you were fired from a job. Your résumé will automatically go into the trash. In 90 percent of the cases, depending on the reference immunity laws in your state and your former company’s policy, we have no way of finding out.” –Cynthia Shapiro

11. “Know how to pronounce my name, even if you have to call and ask the receptionist before you come in.” –Senior HR executive in New York City

12. “One time I said to a candidate, ‘Tell me a little bit about yourself.’ An hour and a half later, I was afraid to ask question No. 2.” –Sharlyn Lauby

13. “How soon should you send a thank-you note? The next day seems a little desperate. Wait a week, and I’ve probably interviewed a bunch of other people and you can remind me again how great you are.” –Cynthia Shapiro

14. “When it comes to getting a job, persistence does not pay off. Checking in once or twice is fine. But if you call and call and call, you’re not going to get the job, because you’re annoying.” –HR manager at a medical-equipment sales firm

15. “Sometimes we’ll tell you we ended up hiring someone internally—even if we didn’t—just to get you off our back.” HR representative at a Fortune 500 financial-services firm

16. “If your former supervisor hated you, don’t give me his direct line for a reference. Instead, give me the number to HR. Most of us will give out only the dates of your employment and what your title was.” –HR professional at a midsize firm in North Carolina

17. “Yes, we do look at your credit as part of our background check. And if you’ve got a bankruptcy or if your credit score is below 650, you’ll have a hard time getting a job. [But] background checks are expensive. Sometimes we bluff, get you to fill out the form, and don’t even run it.” –Cynthia Shapiro

Surprising Field Where Job Opportunities Abound

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

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest