We asked a hiring manager to give us tips on how you can impress HR—and how you can avoid making horrible mistakes when hunting for a job.
To ensure their honesty, we’ve granted anonymity to an assistant director for a university-based academic youth program. Check out his/her job tips on behaving professionally in an interview and the office, as told to Aaron Weber.
We once had a candidate who looked absolutely great on paper—really looked like a perfect candidate. During the interview he dropped f-bombs as if they were going out of style.
I almost ended the interview early, but was more interested in keeping track of the number of times he cursed. This is a casual office environment, but it’s not a profane one.
LET’S TALK ABOUT MONEY
If you’re a candidate, it’s best to wait until the end of the interview to ask about money. However, if I suspect that we won’t be offering as much as they currently make, I’ll bring it up earlier—or even before the interview. I don’t want to waste my time or theirs, and if I think the money could be a deal-breaker for them, I’ll talk about it first.
I won’t be offended if someone asks for more, but I can’t give it to them either: The university has an official set pay scale, and in my experience, they don’t deviate from it.
LEARNING FROM MISTAKES ON THE JOB
There is always a learning curve. I want a new hire asking questions rather than making assumptions.
You’re bound to make a few mistakes, and when you do, the ability to take responsibility and show a bit of humility goes a long way.
I’ve definitely had to fire people, though. Once, I had someone who was clearly in way over his head, who just couldn’t do the work or handle prioritizing multiple tasks. He actually thanked me for firing him. I’ve also fired summer employees for making really poor decisions, like drinking on the job.
WHAT I WISH I’D KNOWN
Don’t try to be funny right away and don’t talk too much at meetings when you are still learning the job. I was pretty sure I knew everything when I was getting started, and it took me a while to figure out that I didn’t.
If nothing else, it rubs people the wrong way when someone new or inexperienced jumps in with unsolicited advice. You wouldn’t be there at all if nobody wanted your input, but you have to be polite about providing it.
For example, you’ll get better results if you ask someone to explain a process to you, instead of just telling them it should be different.
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