Back in the 1950’s, many vacuum cleaners were sold door-to-door; in other words, a salesman would come to the home, be invited in, and he would stage a demonstration of the vacuum’s effectiveness. Usually, that demonstration involved dumping dirt and debris on the carpet and then using the vacuum to remove it.
But what happened if the vacuum didn’t suck up the dirt? The homeowners were left with a mess in the middle of their living room. (And of course, they did not buy the vacuum.)
Surprisingly, people today often use the job interview as an opportunity to dump unwanted “dirt and debris” all over the conference table. Candidates report how awful their past employers were, how horrible their last job was and how impossible the boss was to please. Last week, a candidate complained to me that he had “embellished” his skills when applying for his previous position and was subsequently fired. His exact quote was “if they had just TRAINED me on those skills (that he already told the boss he had), then I could have been successful!”
Not only is the negativity unattractive, it can also show you how they may represent your company should you hire them and then let them go. Once they are no longer employed with you, you could be the focus of their complaints. Even more dangerous, candidates may divulge sensitive information that could infringe on EEOC laws. For example, through “dumping” their issues, problems and complaints, candidates could mention sexual orientation, religious beliefs and even health issues, which could later come back to haunt you if you do not hire them. I have even seen people share sensitive internal information from their past employer, including weakness within leadership, client names and even intellectual property information about a direct competitor. Trust me, this is not information you want shared with you or about you during any conversation, much less an interview looking for the next trusted employee for your team. When faced with a candidate who begins down a road of sharing too much information, it is in your best interest to interrupt and either ask a different question or end the interview altogether,
Just like with non-working vacuums, if there is a big pile of “dirt and debris” sitting on the conference table after an interview, then the candidate isn’t working and you need to keep searching for the right person for the job.