He Sabotaged The Job Interview


From time to time I hear something a job applicant has said in a job interview that killed the job opportunity on the spot. Yesterday I heard a new one.

Earlier this week a colleague of mine sent an email around the office, letting us know that a landscaping company that also provides winter snow removal services was in need of a Snowplough Driver. The requirements included a clean driver’s licence and the availability of the person to work 24/7. Seems the preference for the company is to do the bulk of their snow removal overnight while most cars are off the road, making the plowing much easier.

Now granted this job is not full-time, it’s definitely seasonal, and it depends greatly on the amount and frequency of snowfalls. Still, at $15.00 per hour, a person could put some money in their pockets and a job on their resume. The company was willing to train anyone who was successfully hired, and as far as I could see, there was a chance that come the time to put away snow shovels, the person could catch on doing landscape work.

As this email came to me, I happened to be filling in for one of my ill co-workers and was working in our drop-in employment centre. Right in front of me was a tall, muscular man sitting at a computer looking for a job. As it happens, I’ve worked with this fellow before and I’ve found him to be one of those guys who works hard when he knows what it is he’s to do. At the same time however, he’s got a very simplistic view of things, says it like he sees it, without thinking of how his comments might work against him. And such was the case during his interview for this job.

When I told him about the job possibility, he said he would prefer stable year-round work, but he’d apply for the job anyway and see what it’s all about. That’s a good decision on his part; go for the interview and get the experience if nothing else, and if the job offer is a good one, take the job if offered. He thanked me for letting him know about it; and that’s another good thing he has – manners. He forwarded his resume to my colleague right away with an indication of interest and he gets full marks for taking prompt action too. So there’s a lot of good behaviour there to acknowledge.

The last thing he did which also shows me that he made a good decision is that he called me up after the interview to let me know he’d actually had the interview. When I asked how it had gone, he said quite well he thought. The only concern he raised with the employer was about taking public transit to the company property to get the truck he’d be driving. He wasn’t sure if the buses would be operating when he started or finished shifts. Fair enough, but I assured him there are taxis, and in the wee hours of the morning he might even borrow a friend’s car or possibly hitch a ride with another driver if he found one lived nearby.  And so he waits…

This brings us up to yesterday and what I learned that he didn’t share with me. Oh I found out though. I got an email mid-afternoon from the colleague who had been contacted originally by the employer looking for a driver. He did in fact interview the client, and he would have hired him too except for a comment he made. Given that the posting said right on it that people had to be available 24/7 and that most of the work was done in the evenings and overnight, he thought he had been quite clear. So he was surprised and the interview terminated when the applicant said he wouldn’t work on the nights he went bowling.

Bowling? Everyone has their own values and I get that. This unemployed fellow who is frustrated looking for work has a job put before him which is his for the taking, but sabotages the job interview by putting his bowling evening ahead of employment. There are two explanations for this kind of behaviour; he didn’t want the job and set himself up to be rejected, or he has no idea that he killed the chance by putting his bowling ahead of the job. I need to find out which it is.

Unfortunately, my referrals are now questioned, and my colleague’s reputation with the employer is questioned. What kind of pre-screening are we doing if this is the kind of person we are sending? I’m not saying it’s about us, but if we want employers to call us with offers of employment for our clients, we do want to build good relationships with them by sending them the right people. This opens the door to more calls, more opportunities, and more clients hired.

I share his story so you think carefully of your own priorities and pause to think before you speak in a job interview. You don’t want to be your own worst enemy and kill your own chances of finding employment. Whether it’s your dream job or a survival job, don’t talk your way out of work.

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