These past few weeks have seen a number of guffaws and acts of incivility and decorum. It started with Congressman Joe Wilson, shouting “You Lie” at President Obama. Followed by Serena Williams telling an umpire to place the tennis balls somewhere I won’t repeat. Lastly, Kanye West not being able to control his displeasure at the MTV video music awards and climbing up on the stage to ruin Taylor Swift’s moment. These three W’s (Wilson, Williams and West) together have created a new term for me to remember that I don’t ever want to be accused of doing: “Pulling a W.” Each one of them crossed a line and will spend a long time trying to convince others that they can get back on the right side of the line and stay there. As a job candidate, there are a number of lines not to be crossed because they are irreparable. Here are a few ‘W’-like traits we can learn from for the benefit of our careers:
- Don’t over exaggerate the truth. It’s almost expected these days that people lie on their resumes and falsify their experience. So much so, that any good recruiter will make a comparison to a resume submitted and a LinkedIn profile. People don’t lie on their LinkedIn profiles because their peers, their boss, their subordinates can all see the profile. So, don’t call yourself a VP on your resume and a Director (the truth) on your LinkedIn profile.
- Don’t dis your current boss or company. My parents used to tell me when I misbehaved that “if I was doing it at home, I would be doing it at school”. Same holds true in the workplace if someone hears a candidate bad-mouth their current or past boss and company. They think if they will do this to their current or former employer, they will do it to me. It’s better to be clear about the facts and keep the emotion out of the conversation.
- Leave the swear words at the bar. I may be a little more sensitive than others, but if your vocabulary depends heavily on four-letter words, see if you can curb them from the interview meetings. Even if invited to do so in the conversation, steer away from being pulled in. You may be being tested. No recruiter wants to send forward a candidate who could potentially offend any hiring managers.
- Know the line between assertiveness and aggressiveness. There is nothing wrong with being assertive during or after the interview. You have given your time and energy so you should expect a response and feedback. But check yourself so you don’t cross the line and become too aggressive. I once was told by a candidate that I had made a “foolish decision” by not hiring him. I don’t wish ill-will on anyone but I was not surprised that he did not stay at any of his companies very long. Calling a hiring manager “foolish” or making them feel foolish, attacked, annoyed, or “stalked” is going too far. The hiring manager will feel like a tennis umpire being challenged.
- Don’t take all the credit. A former Board Chairman told me this past week that he hasn’t forwarded the resume of his nephew on to his vast network because his nephew wouldn’t take his advice and revise his resume in such a way that would make him appear more humble in terms of the credit he received from his achievements. The resume was also full of all the championships he won, the awards garnered, and the accolades bestowed on him. Taking too much credit is taking the microphone away from someone else who deserves it more.
Civility and decorum is important in all industries and at all times. Especially in an interview, don’t find yourself ‘Pulling a W.’