We all screw up interviews now and then – even someone who’s been through this whole job interview thing many many times and writes a blog just brimming with interview advice! Here’s what happened to me just this week.
I decided to reach out beyond my usual consulting clients and look for something new. One job in particular interested me because it offers a chance to work with various locations and people, helping make sure a major project for the City of New York flows smoothly. So I sent my resume and waited.
Two days later, I got an e-mail from the consulting firm giving me a full job description and asking if I was still interested. I was reading the e-mail at the office while trying to balance at least 3 other things, and quickly responded including the phone number at my current assignment where I could be reached during the day.
As I clicked “Send” I saw I had accidentally typed the phone number with two of the numbers interchanged. Aaaargh! So I quickly sent a note with an apology and the right number.
And THAT e-mail had a typo too! Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeh!
It had been a long day of technical editing and dealing with tiny oh-so-tedious details, so I can understand why I made the typos. My eyes were on overload. But that’s no excuse.
My mistake was not giving proper attention to this very important part of the job interview process – communication. Better to deal with it later at home when I can focus and do it right, than try to fit it in between work demands. Each time you communicate with the recruiter or HR person or any of the interviewers, you need to engage your best game. The slightest error – as wonderful as we may be and as unfair as this sounds – is cause for rejection.
Now here’s the part where I have to admit something from my past. Once when I was helping screen applicants for a help desk job, I suggested we reject a candidate because he left a message with the wrong contact number. My reasoning was “How could he work the help desk, which involves lots of small details, if he didn’t take the time to carefully provide us with the right phone number for his interview?” (Well…turns out he was hired after all and many years later is still working for that company. Not sure how many numbers he’s gotten wrong, but they like him and so do the customers – and he always has a big smile for everyone, including me.)
Could my recent experience be rightful karma for my being so quick to judge? Maybe so. I’m smiling at the thought. Always something to learn.
Oh…in case you’re curious, I sent a third e-mail (without typos) trying my best to assure the recruiter I am usually extremely careful about such things, but I haven’t heard back since. C’est la vie!
I think this whole thing is a good reminder for all of us to take these things in stride. If they do happen, do your best to correct as much as possible – and then just let it go and move on. If this is the reason a job is lost…then so be it. You can only do your best. But at least remember what just happened to me and take the time to communicate carefully – and that includes your resume and cover letter.
I’m a big believer these things happen for a reason so I’m not upset. Truth is I haven’t worked for a consulting firm…well…ever. I contract all my work directly and enjoy the lack of a middle man with extra rules. So maybe…just maybe…this got me out of a potentially awful situation.
But I like to think the real reason it happened is for me let you know that if you screw up before, during, or after a job interview…please don’t kick yourself. Stuff happens. Even to the best of us. Ahem.
New Work Coach Cafe Policy:
Although I had to stop answering individual questions (to preserve my sanity), your thoughts and stories are VERY welcome here.