That half-a-minute

It is an axiom of human resources that all the crucial decisions are taken within the first 30 seconds of a job interview, even before the candidate has sat down. What is often overlooked in that self-conscious half a minute is that first impressions cut both ways and that employers can turn off potential employees without realising they are doing it. A survey conducted among 4,400 jobseekers by online recruiter found that 68 per cent of them admitted that they were likely to be influenced by general impressions at interview rather than practical considerations. Nearly a third said that in the past they had taken a lower salary to move jobs just because they liked the interviewer.

While just what constitutes a seductive interviewer remained elusive, the survey group found it easy to identify the turn-offs. Poor punctuality and scruffiness were obvious concerns. Candidates disliked being kept waiting. Once those crucial 30 seconds have passed, employers can still blow it. Personal remarks in general — never mind derogatory ones — are not welcomed by candidates and sexual innuendo should be avoided at all times.

Employers should also make sure they know who they are talking to, and if they do get it wrong, apologise, rather than continue to question the candidate from someone else’s CV. It is also felt to be disrespectful to doodle on a candidate’s CV in his or her presence, or even to produce a CV that has been doodled on. Nor should employers eat during the interview or take personal calls — or any calls, if possible. And a poor interview can cost an employer more than wasted time. Another online recruiter, total, had recently discovered that two thirds of disgruntled interviewees are likely to become unhappy customers too and boycott the employer’s goods or services. A satellite television service calculates that the cost of one cancelled subscription adds up to a loss of thousands of sum of revenue over that customer’s entire lifetime. — The Guardian