Back when I was looking for jobs, temp agencies didn’t have the best reputations. They were fine if you were just looking for a filler job until something you really wanted opened up. There also was the hopeful temp to perm position, but it all seemed a little shady to me.
However today more and more companies are outsourcing their recruiting to these firms and some have some pretty prime slots to fill. This past Saturday I spent the morning manning a desk at an open house of an agency in Stamford, CT. They recognize the benefit of having me there to help the people who have great resumes but aren’t confident in an interview, or the people who are great in an interview but their resume could use some work. In return I got some great insight into what their candidates are like. They told me some great anecdotes.
Now I will admit that some temp agencies (or recruiters) are better than others. I’d consider this firm one of the better ones because they recognized the value of having me polish a candidate for a position rather than pass them by until a person with the perfect resume and interview came along. That makes a difference-they care. On some level it is more cost-effective for them to improve the person in front of them rather than keep looking for another person, but they do care about the candidate. Everyone I met was friendly, thoughtful and we had a good time considering it was a Saturday-they’re real people.
I wanted to set the stage there a bit because I’m guessing from some of the stories they told me that candidates still consider them “just a temp agency.” I believe that the root cause of these examples of poor candidate behavior is not taking the company or the interview seriously enough.
One recruiter recounted a time when he walked out of his office to meet with a candidate, saw that they were dressed in Timberland shoes and jeans-thanked the candidate for their time and walked back in his office without interviewing them. No second chance, no explanation, just Good-bye. Same story for a candidate who was chewing gum in an interview.
He cited another example where a candidate answered her cell phone in the interview with him and chatted with her friend for a minute before saying that she was in an interview and had to go. BZZZ She was outta there! Her excuse was that she’d never do that in a “real” interview-which was an insult to him. He wasn’t worth the same consideration as a “real” interviewer? How could he trust that she wouldn’t do the same thing in the “real” interview when he sent her to his client?
Another recruiter gave the example of a student who didn’t have a car at the time of the interview. After she finished the interview she had to wait 2 hours for her ride to pick her up, so she sat in the company’s lobby. This is the kind of thing that I’m not sure I’d immediately sense as a problem, but she said that while the company liked her, they worried about the reliability of her transportation if she had to wait that long to get a ride home. Would she be late to work in the morning because her ride couldn’t get her there on time? If you’re ever in that situation, it’s better to wait at a nearby coffee shop or walk around some stores in the area rather than wait in the lobby (no matter how large the building’s lobby may be), until your ride picks you up. Not necessarily a terrible thing, but goes to show you how an interviewer will draw conclusions on something that could be very innocent.
Your appearance and attitude should show that you are serious about getting a job. It is a MILLION times better to be overdressed for these situations than under dressed. You want to treat anyone you’re interviewing with as if they hold the keys to your happiness, your financial success and your future. Because they do. Show them that they’re important enough to dress appropriately and give them your full attention.
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