Lindsay Olson

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Common Courtesy and Bathroom Breaks...


About once a month, I check out the Google Analytics statistics for this blog. It's always a mixture of entertainment and enlightenment. As I was combing through the keywords section, I noticed a strange pattern. Several people who landed here searched "no bathroom break" or "bathroom break during an interview."

I don't know the actual story behind these visitors attempts to find information about bathroom breaks and interviews, but I assume these hits came from job seekers who have fallen victim to the etiquette oblivious interviewer. Sadly, it happens more often than it should as this blog reader described in a recent experience

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Hiring Managers: I'm concerned. Let's treat candidates the same way we would if we were to invite them to our homes. If you keep a candidate sitting in a conference room for a marathon interview, offer a restroom break. It's common courtesy and a small, but important detail that determines how a candidate perceives your company and your overall employer brand.

I see how this can happen. Each interviewer has 30 minutes to an hour with the candidate and when the interviewer's time is up, he's back to work and on to other priorities. The next person comes in and starts with their business. And so on...

My suggestion: Assign one person on the team the responsibility of taking care of the candidate. This person is the first and the last person the candidate will see on interview day. This one person walk the candidate through the process, making sure that everything runs smoothly, the interviews start on time, and proper attention and courtesy is extended to the candidate.

Photo credit: Mass Distraction

Cell phone happy interviews


I despise cell phones. I've seemed to curb that addiction a few years ago and it was the best thing I've ever done for myself. If it's not the owner speaking unbearably loud, it's ringing at the most inopportune times. If it's not ringing with a horrific ring tone, the owner is responding to a text message in the middle of a dinner, a movie or while driving in his car. It's amazing we live in an era when cell phones are so commonplace, yet we haven't seemed to figure out cell phone etiquette.

Like this candidate who went on the job interview....true story.

Candidate goes for an interview with a PR agency. She showed up drenched, completing dismissing the idea of cleaning up quickly in the restroom before walking through her potential employer's door.

Now that's a little strange. First impression is everything, right? Maybe it was because when she showed up, she was still talking on her cellphone! Actually, yelling. Yelling at her spouse about picking up some paperwork and the kids.

If that wasn't an awkward enough start, it gets worse. She left her phone on and then answered it during her interview

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, continuing to make her arrangements and argue in front of the hiring manager. I can only imagine it was some annoying ring tone.

Of course, she didn't get the job. Deal breaker.

Lessons Learned

    50 First Dates movies

  • Avoid the situation from happening completely. Leave the cell phone in the car. Or in a briefcase or purse - turned off.
  • If the cell phone rings, don't answer it. It's the quickest way to get escorted out the door. Apologize, turn it off, and move on quickly.
  • Check the weather before leaving for the office. Better yet, keep a small umbrella in the car or office - just in case.

And one extra tidbit: Put a professional message on the cell phone voicemail. Nothing is more annoying than listening to the new Radiohead song before leaving a message.

Photo by: Cayusa

Thank You Letter vs. Yankees


A candidate interviews for a senior level position and after several in-person interviews we get to the writing test stage. The company then calls me with an update: "Skip the writing test and cut the candidate loose. Poor writing has already been demonstrated in the follow-up thank you letter."

Wow, is it that bad? I immediately called the candidate to break the news. I hadn't seen a copy of the thank you letter at this point and so I first asked to see a copy of it. This is what I received.

"Are you sure you sent the right letter, I mean, I see you wrote 'reflect those skills necessary...' twice. And... Maybe you accidentally sent your draft?," I asked.

"No, it's impossible. This is a letter written by a career professional for me! I send this to everyone!," the candidate answered.

It wasn't an easy call. I continued to express my opinion and advised the candidate that the letter never leave that inbox again.

We nicely parted ways and a few minutes later this arrived:

Red Sox vs. Yankees. Ummm... no, I think we missed the point here.

Lessons learned

  • Always write your own content - thank you letters, writing samples, interview confirmations, resume, etc. Everything

    Dr. Dolittle: A Tinsel Town Tail divx

    . You need to know what it says because your every move is being evaluated during this interview process. Look at it once, twice, three times. Read it out loud. Even a simple spelling mistake in a follow-up note could cost you the job.

  • Always take responsibility for your actions. This person was obviously very embarrassed by the letter, but rather than reflecting on the situation and using the opportunity to fix it, the person found whatever reason to blame it on non-contributing factors.
  • Try not to take rejection personally. This one is hard, especially if you really wanted that job and it was down to the wire. Only one person gets the job and competition is fierce. If you choose to take it personally, at least don't act out on it. How one accepts criticism and rejection is a good sign of their character and nobody should burn bridges. In the PR industry, it is very likely you will run into the hiring manager or a recruiter again in your career and unprofessional behavior is something that always sticks.

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