Recently I was discussing interview tactics from the perspective of the employer and this memory came to mind. It’s been nearly a decade but stands out in my mind so clearly.
I was working as an intern for a project management and design firm in the Bay Area and one of my duties was coordinating and assisting Human Resources, both with interviews and new employees. While most interviews came down to the hiring manager’s discretion the HR department gave input and options were most often respected. It was summer and when a strange car parked in our visitor’s space I knew it was one of the interviewees. I stayed at the desk around the corner from reception so I could escort the candidate to our conference room.
Minutes passed. I had no idea why the interview candidate did not come inside immediately but soon heard the door open and the woman asked, politely, if the receptionist could take the peel from her half eaten banana and throw it away.
At first glance it seems harmless right? This wasn’t a horribly rude request, nor did she act demanding in asking. We were all grateful she didn’t simply throw it on the ground. While I could even understand not leaving a banana peel in a hot car in the summer it was interesting that the woman did not use the trash can outside or ask to use the bathroom where she could throw away any trash without being noticed.
But what left us completely bewildered was why this woman, who was interviewing for a high level position in a professional office environment, would make her first impression here, please take my banana peel.
The goal in any interview is to stand out as extraordinary but for the right reasons. When you’re presenting yourself and your business, it’s easy to let something innocuous become a distraction to the message you’re trying to convey. In this case when told, the hiring manager for the position could only image our team entering a client meeting or proposal and having this employee hand over half eaten fruit.
After years of working in human resources, dealing with lost candidates, late candidates, screaming in their car on the phone candidates, I can honestly say this one woman stands out in my memories.
If you’re prone to feeling scattered when you’re out promoting your business try a simple checklist so you check your teeth for lettuce, have business cards handy and leave half eaten fruit in the car.