How to Make the Most of Your In Person Interview

Episode 14

Episode overview

In this episode, Pete and Ricky discuss winning strategies for an in person interview. From cell phones to body language, the guys cover the obvious, and not-so-obvious considerations that may be the difference between being offered the job, or finishing in second place.

Whether you’re new to interviewing or just a bit rusty, this episode is packed with valuable tips everyone can use!

45 minutes

View transcript

Tips on what to do during your job interview

  1. Bring extra resumes. It shows preparation and interest. If you know four people are going to be at your interview, bring eight resumes.
  2. Turn everything off. No phones, no smartwatches, no distractions. Looking at a watch, in general, is typically a bad sign, so just take it off before the interview and eliminate the distraction entirely.
  3. Practice good nonverbal cues. Maintain eye contact, good posture, and a firm handshake. These things send a message of interest… or lack thereof. All eyes will be on you from the moment you walk into the building until you leave.
  4. Speak confidently and show enthusiasm. Your personality, enthusiasm, and interest in this opportunity could be the one thing that sets you apart from the other candidates.
  5. Honesty is the best policy. Position yourself in the best way possible, don’t lie about previous experiences and what happened, but rather try to find a positive learning opportunity out of it.
  6. Write a thank you note. While it would be easier to type out a quick thank you to send over email, a handwritten note is always more meaningful. This will give you yet another chance to stand out in a personal way.

Additional resources

How To Write a Perfect Thank You Email After An Interview
How to Sell Yourself in an Interview
How To Answer Interview Questions Using the STAR Method
How to Follow Up After a Job Interview

Pete Newsome

About Pete Newsome

Pete Newsome is the president of 4 Corner Resources, the nationally acclaimed staffing and recruiting firm he founded in 2005. His mission back then was the same as it is today: to do business in a personal way, while building an organization with boundless opportunities for ingenuity and advancement. When not managing 4 Corner’s growth or spending time with his family of six, you can find Pete sharing his sales and business expertise through public speaking, writing, and as the host of the Hire Calling podcast.

Ricky Baez

About Rick Baez

Efrain “Ricky” Baez Jr. is a published human resources professional specializing in strategically aligning HR competencies to business goals with a down to earth, common sense approach. Ricky is a four- year veteran of the United States Marine Corps and holds a Masters degree in Human Resources (MHR) from Rollins College and an SPHR certification from the Human Resources Certification Institute. Ricky is also a faculty member for the Master of Human Resources program at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida.


Ricky Baez 0:00
Hello, this is Ricky Baez and you’re listening to the Hire Calling Podcast.

Pete Newsome 0:13
Welcome, everyone and thank you for listening to the Hire Calling Podcast. This is Pete Newsome and I’m joined with Ricky Baez once again and we are your source for all things hiring, staffing, and recruiting. Ricky, welcome back. How are you today?

Ricky Baez 0:27
I’m doing great, man. I’m doing really good. It’s been a very interesting week. But if it wasn’t interesting, then why do I do this job.

Pete Newsome 0:35
That’s right. Well, we have to first go back to our last podcast, how we ended talking about Friday 13th, did you make good on your plan to watch some movies at night?

Ricky Baez 0:47
Absolutely. I did. I saw parts one, two, and my favorite, part three. Over on Amazon Prime. Now we get to send them a bill because they’re not active sponsors for the show. But I saw that on Amazon Prime and man it’s just it’s old it’s cheesy. The CGI is non-existent. But man, it still is a good scare. Really fun.

Pete Newsome 1:07
It’s not the best acting. Right? Like that’s, we watched part three. And you know, great jump scares.

Ricky Baez 1:16

Pete Newsome 1:16
But the voices, the tone, the inflection is all-around terrible acting. I don’t know if, what, 30 years ago now, what, 40 years ago?

Ricky Baez 1:26
40 years.

Pete Newsome 1:27
40, that dates me by the way. But 40 years ago, people were actually talking to each other that way. But it wasn’t pretty. That part of it.

Ricky Baez 1:36
No, no, it was not. But you know what, 40 years, that tells you something about a piece of art, that 40 years later, people still jump. There are some movies that are five years old, like five years ago, nobody cares about, but 40 years later, I mean, that one is still doing what it was intended to do even with the franchise.

Pete Newsome 1:36
It’s solid. And yeah, the reason we watched it is my 13-year-old wanted to watch it. So, you know, they, it’s not like, I was forcing it on him. And now he wants to watch all of them, which is a bit, that’s a little more of a commitment. Now, like, dude, we got to relegate it to, you know, Friday the 13th. And we’ll watch them then. But I can’t do a whole series.

Ricky Baez 2:18
And they get progressively worse. He went to space. He also went to Manhattan. He gets really worried. So next year watch, you know, a Friday the 13th. Jason has COVID.

Pete Newsome 2:31
Exactly. That’s probably next. Well, in the meantime, we have a lot to talk about today, because we left off in our last episode leading right up to the interview room, so to speak. And we promised to come back, which we’ll do today and talk about what happens once you’re in the room.

Ricky Baez 2:50

Pete Newsome 2:50
So, I’ll ask you, you know, you’re the HR guy, you interview people very often. You have for many years, what’s the first thing that you want to recommend to candidates?

Ricky Baez 3:01
So now we’ve got everybody from the research, to the car, getting into the general area a little bit early, and the walk-in about 10 minutes early. So, here’s the first thing that I advise people to do is, now that you’ve researched, you know how many people, give or take, that you’re going to interview, bring extra resumes. If you know four people are going to be there for a panel interview, bring eight resumes because you never know who else is going to be added later on.

Ricky Baez 3:33
So, you always want to be prepared. One of the things I do Pete, when I interview people, I don’t just focus on the interview itself. Well, I mean, I do but not just the questions, but I’m looking at the whole experience. And if I see somebody who just doesn’t bring a resume, is not prepared, is really distracted. Yeah, in my book, throws some points off, understanding that they might be nervous as well. But I start off by making sure that I advise, bring extra resumes.

Pete Newsome 4:04
Well, like so many of the things that we end up talking about in conversations like this, it’s preparation, and it sends a message. And you can send one of preparation and interest or you can send one of apathy. Right. And so, what we know is candidates don’t intend to send that message and they may be extremely interested. But when you’re being compared to the field, so to speak. You want to take that extra step and that’s an easy one. So out of the gate, bring extra resumes, no ifs, ands, or buts. Plan ahead and just print them out in advance.

Ricky Baez 4:41
Absolutely. On good paper.

Pete Newsome 4:43
Here we go, it’s always with the paper.

Ricky Baez 4:49
I’m just saying.

Pete Newsome 4:50
Perfume on the paper?

Ricky Baez 4:51
No perfume on the paper but good heavy stock, you know because once everything is over, we are going to be reviewing each resume, right? And what if your neck and neck with somebody else, you never know maybe the thing that tips you over, is that nice stock of paper, that extra mile of tender loving care that that candidate really put into the whole process? That’s just me.

Pete Newsome 5:14
So as a professional recruiter, I’m going to tell you, I’m going to take issue with the call that I get that says, we would have hired your candidate, but their paper wasn’t thick enough. It wasn’t heavy enough. Right?

Ricky Baez 5:28
Touché. Fair enough.

Pete Newsome 5:31
But perception being the reality, you know, these are the kinds of things that would never be stated. But, you know, maybe it’s subconscious. Right. You know, and I will concede, I’ll fully concede that holding a resume on heavy stock versus, you know, flimsy paper, you do notice a difference, right?

Ricky Baez 5:51

Pete Newsome 5:51
I don’t know if that would ultimately make the difference. But if everything was that even, perhaps. But err on the side of doing that, do not put your picture on the resume, though.

Ricky Baez 6:03
Don’t do that.

Pete Newsome 6:03
Can we agree on that?

Ricky Baez 6:04
Yeah, I definitely do agree with that. And you know what, that’s a good point, though, Pete. That really is a good point. Because the first time I saw a picture, and address, birthdates, religions, on a resume, I thought somebody was playing a joke on me. But once I started asking more questions to colleagues, and I quickly found out that in other countries, that’s perfectly okay.

Ricky Baez 6:28
Other countries, that’s okay, so if we have a candidate that is brand new to the US, and they give you that kind of a resume, you know, instead of getting into crazy shock, or cardiac arrest like I did, I just, it’s a good idea to take a step back and maybe think that maybe in other countries and other cultures, that’s perfectly okay. But here in the United States, with EEO laws, that’s a big no.

Pete Newsome 6:52
Understood. So, you know, as a candidate, I think the message there is, don’t put your interviewer in an uncomfortable situation unnecessarily.

Ricky Baez 7:00
That’s right

Pete Newsome 7:01
Shoot in the middle with things like that. And when in doubt, if you’re having to question whether something’s appropriate to be on a resume, you should probably leave it off. Now, that’s not our core focus today. But that’s never a bad thing to use as a reminder, you know, that resume is like so many things, you know, you’ll get one shot at it.

Ricky Baez 7:21

Pete Newsome 7:22
So of course, we’ve already talked about making sure that you have someone proofread it, that you think hard and long about what’s on there. So, don’t make your interviewer uncomfortable unnecessarily. So that’s a good message, a little bonus tip if you will.

Ricky Baez 7:34
That’s right.

Pete Newsome 7:38
Alright, so the next thing, what are you going to go with?

Ricky Baez 7:43
So now you’re ready, you got that resume, turn off any distractions you may have, via your cell phone, your smartwatch, anything you have, that can take your attention away from the interview, from that pitch that you’re going to make about the skills that you bring to the organization. And look, we get it. We live in a world where we are connected 24/7, right, especially right now.

Ricky Baez 8:11
It’s August 2021. We’re at a time that we have to be in touch with everybody at the same time immediately. But when it comes to making a really good first impression, for this next adventure in your career, eliminate those things, turn off your phone, and more importantly, take off your smartwatch. Here’s why. With this one, I’m really particular, Pete, because in my entire HR career I’ve been in a lot of conversations, especially interviewing or from an employer relation, perspective investigations.

Ricky Baez 8:45
And as soon as smartwatches started getting more relevant when somebody was sending a text, an email that goes to my watch, the first thing I do, I look at it. And if I look at my watch, when I’m talking to somebody, it sends the message that A, I don’t care, or B, I’m just not that interested in that conversation. So, eliminate that kind of distraction. Just take your watch off.

Pete Newsome 9:09
Yeah, looking at a watch in general, in any conversation is a bad sign unless the person or people you’re with are going somewhere with you next and you’re all in on it together. It’s a terrible message. Right? And so, in an interview, that is, you know, and I’ll tell you if I am on the other side of the table, and I see the interviewer looking at a watch, I’m going to assume as a candidate that things aren’t going well. Right, or I will say, as a professional, being a professional recruiter, I have also been a professional salesperson at the same time.

Pete Newsome 9:46
And I know in a client meeting if things aren’t going well if they’re looking at their watch, I better change up real quick. So that’s for another day, but for this purpose. You don’t want to do anything that’s going to serve as a distraction, and, you know, my wife is often the person in the room who still has a ringer on their phone, I think there’s like maybe 50 people that don’t have it on vibrate all the time. She’s one of them. And so, when we walk into, you know, something at school, you know, for a church, if we’re at a concert, it’s going to be quiet, right?

Pete Newsome 10:21
Like you got to turn your phone off, right, because you do not want to be that person. And I’m happy to say, so far, so good, she’s never been the one that everyone looks at, right, to see who’s fumbling and in the room, you know that scene, it’s awful. And, you know, it just sends a bad signal. And that’s what this is all about. So, great tip, turn everything off. Better yet, leave it in the car.

Ricky Baez 10:46
There we go, leave it in the car. Remember the car, you drove in about a half-hour early hanging out in the parking lot until it’s time to go in. Alright, so the very same one. Alright, so we got the resumes, we got all the electronics, that you’re turning them off, Pete, this next one is really crucial in my book, because you know, what’s more important than the things you say in an interview, is what you don’t say. It’s your non-verbal cues.

Ricky Baez 11:14
So this next tip is to practice really good verbal, I mean, non-verbal behavior, good eye contact, sitting up straight and not slouching over, don’t get too comfortable once you walk in. And that is as soon as you walk in, not necessarily in the interview meeting. But as soon as you walk into the building, because you want to make sure that everybody you made contact with, that you make a really good impression on, because you never know if the hiring authority is going to ask of the advice of the front desk person, that door person security, even the janitor, you never know if they’re going to ask them what kind of an interaction that they had with you.

Ricky Baez 11:52
So, practice good nonverbal behavior. And the most important one there Pete, in my opinion, is a really good handshake. Have you ever shaken somebody’s hand, and they give you what they call the dead fish?

Pete Newsome 12:03
I haven’t. And I won’t name names with us because that would be inappropriate to do so but let’s just say, in my circle of professional acquaintances, and friends, there is one person in particular who is known to give a dead fish. And I would love it if some of those friends heard this very comment because I’ll know exactly who I’m talking about. And I will receive text messages immediately. You know, what the name, but this is a person who is synonymous with a dead fish handshake. And it’s so easily avoidable.

Pete Newsome 12:39
There’s really no excuse to do it, and it just is creepy. It’s, you know, it gives a bad vibe, right? And in American culture, you know, and specifically, in American business culture, that handshake is meaningful, it sets a tone and it’s not about gender. It’s not about you know, age, it’s about you know, how you present yourself at first pass. And whether you think it should or not is, I’ll say is irrelevant, because we know that it does, right. And if you’re playing the odds, you don’t want to take chances with that unnecessarily. So, have a solid handshake now, big caveat though, right?

Pete Newsome 13:19
We’re in times of COVID. You may not want to, so if you’re a dead fish guy listening, and you know who you are, which I assume you don’t, fist bump everyone. You know COVID has been tragic and awful for every reason. So, you know, if this guy, in particular, you know, may find a silver lining there to fist bump but I don’t think that’s something to shy away from in any way if you’re less than comfortable giving a handshake Do you disagree with that?

Ricky Baez 13:53
No, I do not disagree at all. It’s just good to practice and make sure that you don’t put yourself and everybody else whose hands you shake in that particular situation when they feel uncomfortable, especially now during COVID. Follow what they do, if they don’t lean in for any kind of contact, you don’t lean in, that’s fine. So just follow what they do. But fist-bumps, it’s appropriate, if you see them doing it first. So just follow their lead.

Pete Newsome 14:19
So, what’s your take on the elbow? Because I have an opinion on that, but I want to hear yours first.

Ricky Baez 14:24
So, I saw that for the first time about three weeks ago. You know, like the whole chicken wing elbow looking thing it’s just to me looks odd. But look if I have a roomful of executives that that’s how they want to do it. That’s fine. I don’t know. You seem closer to them. Right? If the whole point is so you don’t get too close and you can social distance. Even a handshake is farther away but an elbow, aren’t you cutting that distance in half?

Pete Newsome 14:52
That’s an excellent point. I don’t know that anyone’s questioning that. They should. I see it as it’s impossible to maintain any sense of dignity when you’re doing the elbow thing. And the only time I really see it, I swear, it’s let’s say, people who are in later stages of life, seem to enjoy it. Like they seem to enjoy doing it, which I just don’t get.

Ricky Baez 15:20
So, are you saying that people who are at a certain point in their life that they go buy a Corvette and also like to elbow bump? Yeah, that’s what I’m hearing.

Pete Newsome 15:28
And they eat dinner, you know, before sundown, yes. Yeah.

Ricky Baez 15:34
Got it.

Pete Newsome 15:35
I mean, my parents probably, you know and their friends at their retirement community probably, you know, probably like, giving it, they’re probably listening. So, I’m sure you guys are wonderful. And the entertainment that you do out there is great. But that is a certain group, you know, of retirees, and they probably like elbow bumping, which is so far-off topic at this point.

Ricky Baez 15:57
I was waiting for you to bring that up.

Pete Newsome 16:00
But yeah, I’m the one that keeps us in line. So yeah, so if you’re going to shake with the hand, do it firmly. That’s right. Look the person in the eye, those nonverbal cues, as you’re talking about really do send a message. Just like what we were referring to earlier, it’s one of interest or lack thereof.

Ricky Baez 16:19
That’s right.

Pete Newsome 16:20
It’s one of seriousness or lack of, so, you know, think about it, right? Look in the mirror ahead of time, you know, practice your handshake, if you’re going to do that, if you’re out of practice. And you know, in 2021, we are out of practice with a lot of things in person. So, you may need to refresh that a little bit. And that’s okay. What’s not okay is to send a bad signal that you could avoid sending.

Ricky Baez 16:46
That’s right. And you know, it’s all this is Pete, and you know this, and this is more for the audience is marketing. You are selling yourself, you’re selling your, you’ve never seen McDonald’s put a half-baked type of a commercial, they really put everything out. So, you really want to make sure that you market yourself, you present yourself in the best light that you want them to see you. And you would hate for you not to get a position. I mean, going back to the resume thing, it’s just because of that one small aspect.

Pete Newsome 17:19
Right. And for the record, we’ve seen that happen, right? The person was slumped in their chair the whole time, the person refused to make eye contact. The person spoke so softly that, you know, we couldn’t hear them. And this is a good segue into the next point, which is to speak confidently and show enthusiasm through the interview. And I think those are tied together. While that’s a verbal cue, right? That’s a very meaningful one. How you come across how, you know, with your tone and inflection speaks volumes. It just does, right?

Ricky Baez 18:01
It does and you know, I’ve been in many, many situations as a recruiting manager, where I’m really excited about how a resume was put together. I’m like, wow, this is a really, I cannot wait to meet this person. And then I built this persona up in my head, they come in, and they’re just really monotone. Here’s my skill set. And here’s what’s happening. And I’m like, ah, I just completely killed my entire.

Ricky Baez 18:28
Now, again, that’s on me because I build that persona into my head. But it’s crucial if you speak confidently with enthusiasm about the skill set you have, do you want to see, it’s actually I think I can speak for you here Pete, correct me if I’m wrong. When I want to hire somebody, I want to bring somebody who’s excited to be here. I don’t want anybody that just rolled out of bed, I want them excited. I want them to be as excited about this opportunity as I am about their resume. And finally getting that best, that final piece into the organization.

Ricky Baez 19:02
Now a lot of people might argue Pete, that why should that matter if they get the skill sets, then how they communicate that skill set should not matter? And this is why I’m saying it does. Because if you have a team full of, I don’t want to say extroverts, because this is not an extrovert versus introvert thing. But if you have a team full of people, that live the culture a specific way, the company culture in a specific way. And they’re high energy and you bring somebody in solely on their skill set, but they don’t communicate the skill sets right, they don’t communicate well. They don’t mesh well with the chemistry of the team. You’re going to do more harm than good.

Pete Newsome 19:41
Well, that goes in a lot of different directions, right where there’s subjectivity, in the job and in the interview process, soft skills, team fit, culture fit. Yeah, that’s huge. Now there are some jobs where they’re more objective in nature and how you’re going to assess the quality of the candidate and where the personality may not be relevant. So, I think we do need to clarify that. But in most cases, most jobs, it’s going to be a factor and probably a significant one.

Pete Newsome 20:13
And enthusiasm makes up for a lot of weaknesses in other areas. And, you know, that is my personal feeling, as well as one that we see translated in the marketplace very regularly, where you can have flaws in your background, you can have flaws in your skill set. And those can be taught, right, those can be improved, but a flaw in your personality, the core of who you are, or I’ll say the interest you have in the job is not something an employer wants to try to fix or teach.

Pete Newsome 20:45
The smart employers know that they can’t and don’t want to try. So back to this idea of you know things being equal, you know, we start to add up a lot of things that make a difference, right, that have absolutely nothing to do with skill and background or education, certifications, whatever they may be. And I’ll say from the staffing perspective, you like to hear your opinion from an HR perspective and all the hiring I’ve seen, I would see personality, enthusiasm, the way someone presents himself in an interview makes the difference more so than the background and skill set, because you already have that to whatever degree is necessary to get in that final interview. Right.

Pete Newsome 21:28
So that is not what’s usually being assessed at that point, maybe in the world of technical interviews, or very specific skill sets that are needed. Sure, right. We already put that caveat in place that where objectivity is all that matters, fine. But that’s pretty rare, right? Even a team where a technical skill set is what’s needed, they want the person to be likable, they want to get along, they want them to want to be there.

Ricky Baez 21:58

Pete Newsome 21:59
Right. And that’s going to come across in your tone. And in how you show yourself in the interview. For sure.

Ricky Baez 22:06
Actually, you and I talked about this about a month ago, we were at the office having a conversation about whether it’s a skill situation, or whether it’s a motivational situation, right? Because when I see somebody who has an amazing resume, right, and they speak with that level of enthusiasm. You know what, I take it back, let’s not talk about an amazing resume, let’s say that they don’t have all the skills that I’m looking for, but they have at least met the minimum qualifications of the job.

Ricky Baez 22:38
But if I see that they’re hungry, and they’re willing to learn, and they have that work ethic, I can bring him in, I’ll teach them FMLA I’ll teach them ABA, I’ll teach them everything about unions because they’re hungry, they have enthusiasm. They’re willing to learn, they have a fire, you can’t teach. Because if I’m going to come in and teach somebody how to work hard, I’m wasting my time. That ship has sailed. So, to me, from my perspective, if somebody meets that minimum qualifications and they’re eager, they’re hungry, they’re willing to learn more than likely I’m going to give that person that shot versus somebody who’s got five degrees.

Ricky Baez 23:14
Now, it depends on the situation, right? You know, because if you got a CT sensitive job, you have to watch other things like a doctor and because you would hate the doctor that’s working on your heart, you would hate to know that he was hired, because he met the minimum qualification, but he had an amazing personality, right? That’s not what you want.

Pete Newsome 23:35
It’s not going to cut it. No pun intended.

Ricky Baez 23:40
I saw what you did there.

Pete Newsome 23:41
I didn’t mean to do it. I wish I could claim that I did. But I didn’t. No.

Ricky Baez 23:44
No, but I agree with you, Pete. That enthusiasm is crucial in communicating what you have. And look, you spent all this time putting your career together, building this arsenal of knowledge that you want to monetize for this organization, you got to make sure you got a good quote on a quote marketing plan, to communicate those things and get the client, your employer, to be that much more excited to bring you on board.

Pete Newsome 24:08
100%. So, from an HR perspective and a staffing perspective, we’re going to tell you, that’s the top of the list.

Ricky Baez 24:14

Pete Newsome 24:15
Of what’s most important, you can make up for a lot of bad by showing that enthusiasm. So, honesty, and honesty is the best policy. We know that. It should be the only policy, we should say that too, right? But is there ever a time to be less than honest in an interview?

Ricky Baez 24:40
There’s never a time. But how you communicate that honesty, I think makes a world of a difference.

Pete Newsome 24:51
Okay, so we’re bringing this up, right? I wanted to see how you answer that. But we’re covering this topic specifically because there’s a decent chance, I don’t want to guess a percentage, I often will make them up. But I won’t do that now.

Pete Newsome 25:04
But there is some percentage of folks, that’s not an insignificant number, who have been terminated from a former job, you have been fired, not by their choice, they’ve been asked to leave, they haven’t met the expectations, and they would have a less than a favorable reference from that organization. Now whether that reference is going to be given or not, there’s a good chance you may be asked why you left the job. So, when you’ve left, because you were fired, you’re forced to leave.

Ricky Baez 25:36

Pete Newsome 25:37
How do you answer that?

Ricky Baez 25:39
So, it’s. So, I’m pausing here, right? Because I want to make sure that I say the right thing for the audience, because I have it in my head, Pete, but I want to be sure it comes up perfect. So, here’s the thing, you definitely don’t want to lie. You don’t. But you want to pose your answer, honestly, in a position where it helps you the very best it possibly can, in this interview process.

Ricky Baez 26:04
So, if that question comes up, so let’s say, for example, I got fired, because of performance, whatever it is, right? I got fired for that. And the interviewer asked me that it’s like, so why did you leave that last position, let me tell you what not to do. Don’t lie and say you left. And don’t lie and say you got laid off, people will find out, especially in today’s day and age, with social media, with Facebook, with LinkedIn, people know each other in this community. So, you’ve got big time leaders who go golfing and have drinks with other big-time leaders. And they talk about how their business is running.

Ricky Baez 26:41
And the topic is going to come up, Hey, I just hired somebody that just came from your organization, they said that they left and like, no, he got fired. I don’t care how well you did in that interview, you just lied, and they caught you in it. And they can let you go whether you’ve been there for five days or five years, they can let you go for that, especially in Florida, which is an employment at will state.

Pete Newsome 27:01
So, well it’s never something you’d want to get caught in your hand.

Ricky Baez 27:05

Pete Newsome 27:06
Right, that goes without saying, you know that there are delicate situations out there, and they needed to be treated individually. So, we can’t really give a blanket answer to what has to be a very specific and pointed question. I’ll tell candidates if you’re working with a recruiter, and it’s one of the advantages of working with a third-party recruiter. And I want to specify that, I mean, someone not employed by the company, you’re considering going to work for, so a third party like 4 Corner.

Pete Newsome 27:36
Be as open and honest as you can, because we’re very proficient, we’re very skilled at positioning those things, and putting them in the best light. And just a quick example, we like to present potential problems and challenges at the forefront of submitting a candidate. Because if there’s any bad, we want to get it out of the way upfront. Right. Bad news early is good news. We believe that, we try to operate that way all the time.

Pete Newsome 28:05
So, if we know that there’s that potential risk of something that’s going to come up, and we know about it, right? So, we have to know first. So, you know candidates to be open with your third-party recruiters for sure. Then we’ll position it in the best light, which is often much easier to do than a candidate doing it themselves. Yeah, just similar to having discussions about compensation or things that, you know, can be sensitive or touchy in any way. For us, they’re commonplace. It’s what we do, all day, every day.

Pete Newsome 28:36
So, it’s very easy for us to position anything that’s potentially negative. So be open with your third-party recruiter, if you have one. If you don’t, you really need to consider the situation individually. And as you know, we certainly want to make clear, don’t lie. But think of the best way to position yourself, the experience, what happened, try to find a positive learning opportunity out of it if you were fired.

Pete Newsome 29:03
I’ll tell you one of the folks we placed years ago, it’s a story that I’ll never forget. She actually had a pretty significant crime that was on her background. And she wrote a letter to explain it. And the story was one of a big growing-up learning experience from something that happened when this candidate was younger. And I will say not only that can’t get hired, but it was one of the best employees that this organization ever hired because of who they were.

Pete Newsome 29:38
And we evolve, we change we grow. Everyone knows that. And I will say if I look at all of our clients that we’ve worked with within our 16 years in business, I don’t know that any have been unrealistic about those things. And certain organizations have policies that are necessary for their type of business. But maybe it’s because we gravitate towards and try to insist on, quite frankly, working with candidates who do business in a personal way. It’s one of the things that our business was founded to do.

Pete Newsome 30:09
So maybe that’s more indicative of the kind of companies we work with. But I will say, I’m rarely, if ever disappointed by how people treat those situations, fair and reasonable. Yeah, the vast, vast majority of the time.

Ricky Baez 30:24
And Pete, that is spot on. Because from my perspective, as somebody who interviews quite a bit, I will feel much better if somebody was upfront with a situation that happened in the past, and I’m dealing with a fraud, exactly how you said, bad news early is good news. Look, I’m the one who’s looking to trust this new individual to come work for this organization.

Ricky Baez 30:46
And if I’m able to validate that trust early on in the process, that’s better for that person than later on. Now, if you’re somebody that’s worried about answering that question, and you do it in a way that you know that if you answer it, honestly, you’re not going to get that job then maybe you shouldn’t be interviewing for that job to be honest. Right?

Pete Newsome 31:04

Ricky Baez 31:04
If you’re that worried about it, so I think you and I are both on the same sheet of music there.

Pete Newsome 31:09
Absolutely. Okay. So, I’m going to throw you for a minute. I’m going to throw another hard one at you, another curveball.

Ricky Baez 31:16
I’m ready.

Pete Newsome 31:17
So, this is under the topic of irrelevant questions. Those come up, right. Sometimes they’re goofy, like, you know, sell me a pencil or there’s something out there about a manhole cover. I don’t know what that one is, a Microsoft question that was asked for years, I think, to test your who knows what. I don’t really subscribe to those kind of questions. But then again, if Microsoft is doing it’s probably not, I mean maybe it’s a good idea.

Pete Newsome 31:45
What do you say if someone is asked something highly inappropriate? You mentioned EEOC earlier, so let’s just go there. From that perspective, something like hey, Ricky, are you married? We know that shouldn’t happen. We know that it does happen. Since this podcast is really focused on the candidate. What advice do you have for candidates who are thrown a curveball like that?

Ricky Baez 32:08
Oh, and Pete, that definitely is a curveball, right? Because it’s a, we all know, especially being in HR. We know that those are questions that people are not supposed to ask. And as a candidate who gets asked that question, you’re in a real pickle here, in a real pickle, I don’t know what that means.

Ricky Baez 32:25
You’re in a real pickle here. Because if you answer the question, you know, that question has no relevancy into the job. But if you don’t answer the question, saying, I’m sorry, that’s an illegal question, that might botch that interview, I’ve got a foolproof way how to answer that question and save the whole interview. So instead of saying, if somebody asked me, Ricky, are you married? And instead of me saying that’s irrelevant? I don’t know what that has to do with this interview? That’s an illegal question.

Ricky Baez 32:55
A better answer would be this. If somebody says, Hey, Ricky, are you married? I would say, you know what, I don’t think the answer to that question is going to convey how my skill set can help your organization. But let me tell you what is, two years ago, I was working on this project where this thing happened in A, B, C, reroute. Reroute that question. Reroute. Bring it back.

Pete Newsome 33:18
You know, you said you have a foolproof way, that is setting the, you know, the bar pretty high for yourself. But I have to give it to you. I think that’s great, that is the perfect answer to your question. It shouldn’t exist in the first place. And so, I want to make sure that I understand what you’re saying. Yeah, it’s worthy of further explanation, just to make sure everyone gets it.

Ricky Baez 33:41

Pete Newsome 33:42
Acknowledge the question. Say that, you know, you don’t believe that that’s relevant to the role or that in rather than talk about that, right. I guess I’m even screwing this up. Not that you don’t think it’s relevant. But rather than talk about that, let me tell you something that I think is more important to my ability to do the job. And then just quickly go past it as if it wasn’t asked at all. And in that setting, right.

Pete Newsome 34:10
Now, what you do after that is a different discussion. But we’re talking about in the interview itself, provided that it’s not of a nature that you feel uncomfortable to the point where you should walk out, that’s its own thing, too. But, you know, in the moment, if you want to just deflect and keep going, I think you’ve got the perfect solution. I really do.

Ricky Baez 34:29
Thank you. I mean, it’s a, now, if they keep asking irrelevant questions more and more and more. Now, you may have to ask yourself, what am I getting myself into here? Right? But you know, I’ve been maybe in one situation, maybe two, in my 20 years in HR, where an irrelevant question was asked.

Ricky Baez 34:50
In both of those situations, I was involved in the interview process as an observer, and I quickly redirected that manager, but it’s from an employee’s perspective, you know, for those organizations that just are not well versed in the EEOC guidelines, rerouting it from taking it away from that uncomfortable answer, and bringing the interview right back on track is the best thing you can do to keep those chances for you getting that job high.

Pete Newsome 35:15
And we know that companies, you know, individual managers at various levels, you know, have various degrees of training exposure into those things. And I’m sure every day those questions are asked when they shouldn’t be. I can say that in, in almost every case, I’m confident that the employer, doesn’t know, nor would they want that happening. Correct. So usually, it’s a one-off, it’s someone who’s gone rogue, so to speak, that their HR folks would be none too pleased to find out about, right. Is that fair?

Ricky Baez 35:52
That’s very fair.

Pete Newsome 35:53
And so, if you are working with a recruiter, either a third party or a corporate recruiter, that’s something that I would recommend bringing up after the fact. And then, among other things, you’re going to see how the company reacts to it. Right? Are they apologetic? Do they try to make up for it? Do they take action and let you know what that action is?

Pete Newsome 36:14
So, you know, you can’t prevent problems from happening. And even the best companies, the best employers out there are going to do things that aren’t perfect at times. How they make up for them is perhaps, you know, as important if not more important than a lot of cases, right? And we’re, we’re talking about degrees here.

Pete Newsome 36:34
So, we’re assuming out of the sake of this conversation, that the, you know, it’s inappropriate, not to the point of discomfort, because if you get faced dealing with that in an interview, my advice would be vastly different. Right? If you’re ever uncomfortable, because of you know, it’s going down an inappropriate path end it and leave, right? That to me is pretty cut and dry. Right? Would you agree there?

Ricky Baez 36:56
No, absolutely. It’s a, yeah, end it and leave because that way you know just how this is you making a good first impression for the organization, the opposite is true. They’re supposed to be putting their best foot forward to see if this is the right position for you and vice versa. So, remember, this interview goes both sides.

Pete Newsome 37:21
So, we got through the interview, we were prepared, we dealt with the surprises along the way. We were attentive, we, you know, enthusiastic, we said goodbye. We’re saying goodbye. What? How do we close?

Ricky Baez 37:33
So, if you started out with the elbow bump, you finish off with the elbow bump.

Pete Newsome 37:38
And then you go eat dinner at four.

Ricky Baez 37:40
You go? That’s right. That’s right. You know, early bird special man. Those discounts really add up. No, so you end the interview. So, what’s next? What do you do next? So, this is something that in my class, Pete, I always ask my students, what do they rather see? Would they rather after they finish interviewing somebody or everybody, do they rather see a thank you email or thank you notes. And let me tell you, Pete, everybody is split. There’s no science behind it. To me. It’s a personal preference. Now, I know what I prefer. I want to hear what you prefer first.

Pete Newsome 38:19
It’s not even close.

Ricky Baez 38:21
Oh, really?

Pete Newsome 38:22
Not even close. It’s a handwritten note 10 out of 10 times. Actually, I just saw a cartoon about that, sometime over the weekend where it was showing, you know, in the past, right, I don’t remember how it was portrayed. But in the past, someone was kind of bummed out, because they had a bunch of mail. And then they started getting emails for the first time. I think that had dates on it, so, you know, 1980 they had too much mail 19, you know, 90-95 whatever it was, they started getting email. And that was exciting, right?

Pete Newsome 38:51
2020, you know, now you’re inundated with email, and you get too much. And so, when you do get a handwritten note, it’s meaningful. You know, it stands out. And for me, I get a few 100 unsolicited emails a day, and most of them are instantly deleted or sent right to spam or already going to spam. But if I get a handwritten note of any type, I look at it differently. It tends to hang around my desk. I feel almost guilty throwing it out for reasons I can’t explain.

Pete Newsome 39:26
And I say this often because it’s one of these weird psychological things where I know that someone took time, I know that it was personal. I know that it was thoughtful. And, boy, when you talk about a difference-maker, yeah, that’s a big one for me. You know, handwritten note. Every time.

Ricky Baez 39:46
And you know what Pete, you talking about that cartoon you saw with all those emails and everything. And I started thinking about like, back in the day when I used to get those tin cans of CD ROMs from AOL telling me you got 10,000 free hours. That stopped. And we never really thought about why that stopped. I bet if I look in my attic, I have about 80 million hours worth of AOL CDs in there.

Ricky Baez 40:09
But you know what, you and I are on the same sheet of music. I personally believe in the long, lost art of a personalized handwritten note. Here’s why. Because in the world of email, and we talked about this earlier, on the show, in the world of email with everything, we all have to be connected every day, your emails get inundated, and it’s easy for something to get lost and for me to delete or archive, an email that at first glance, I see it as irrelevant.

Ricky Baez 40:38
It’s a much easier task than getting something mailed to me and me opening it and like, oh, wow, somebody took the time to write me a thank you letter. It’s harder for me to throw that out than deleting an email.

Pete Newsome 40:51
It’s weird, right?

Ricky Baez 40:53
Yeah. And I swear, Pete, I am not a mail hoarder. But when it comes to that, I got stuff that I got from 10 years ago, I still have it. And my wife is wondering, why do you still have because somebody took the time, birthdays, graduations, whatever the case may be, somebody took the time to go to a store, come back home, write a letter, go to the post office, who does that anymore, and then send that to you.

Ricky Baez 41:17
And you’re right, it hangs around. And it helps out, it really helps out to say, this is how this person presented themselves. And as part of the overall package to me, that’s the real go-getter right there, to get that personalized letter. So, I’m with you 100%.

Pete Newsome 41:31
And I would even go so far as to say do it in the parking lot.

Ricky Baez 41:35
Oh, yes.

Pete Newsome 41:35
Thoughts are fresh, it’s there, do it in the parking lot. Drop it off at the nearest mailbox on the way home. Odds are it will arrive the next day. Right? And now you may be a mail hoarder, though, I will say. If that’s not the description, I’m not sure what it is. But, as you said, we’re in full agreement on that. I would love to hear the counter from your students. Does anything immediately come to mind? Why they would recommend the email instead?

Ricky Baez 42:07
So, with how they responded, it has a lot more to do with the generation we’re in than anything else.

Pete Newsome 42:16

Ricky Baez 42:17
Right. So, to them, it’s just much easier and they haven’t heard, it’s most of them have never mailed a letter before.

Pete Newsome 42:24

Ricky Baez 42:25
So, to them an email, it’s just more logical, and I understand that piece, which to me, it’s if they get that aspect of it, then they have to understand that if they think that way then everybody else who are their age, in that generation, they think that way as well. Nothing wrong with it. It’s just where they are in this generation, more reason to stand out, more reason to do something different.

Pete Newsome 42:49
Yeah, it is easier. That’s why you do the hard thing. In almost every case in life, the easier thing is the thing it’s you know, less valuable right? So do the hard thing and I think that’s a great way to close today and you know, because that’s all in line with what we’ve talked about, is put forth that extra effort ahead of time, which others won’t be willing to do and you’re going to just greatly increase your chance for success in your in person interview. So, I think that’s a good way to end what do you think?

Ricky Baez 43:22
That is perfect. So now, again last week’s last episode, we talked about getting ready for the interview now we’re talking about the interview, the interview is over, and then when you’re driving home, you’re dropping that letter off in the mail. What’s next Pete? What are we talking about next episode?

Pete Newsome 43:39
Well what’s next is you’re going to get the job offer if you do all that stuff, but we’re going to go a little Q&A.

Ricky Baez 43:45

Pete Newsome 43:46
Please email us or you can visit on our website, under our resources tab, we do list all of our podcasts and now we’re even putting up videos. So, between the audio, transcript, and video, everything’s there. We would love feedback, we’re really looking to provide content that is beneficial to not only to candidates but to hiring managers, HR professionals, as well as other recruiters.

Pete Newsome 44:16
So, hit us up with questions, challenges, as best you can. We’ll talk about the hard stuff. Sometimes I’ll defer to Ricky on the hard HR stuff. But as far as anything related to hiring, staffing, and recruiting, we want to be a resource for that. So, hit us up anytime, and we will answer your questions.

Ricky Baez 44:36
That’s right. And also, we are available on your favorite podcast platforms. So please go, whether you’re Apple, Google, whatever the case may be, go find this, Hire Calling Podcast, download it, subscribe, give us a like, give us a review. We love to hear what you think about the show. We would really appreciate it.

Pete Newsome 44:55
All right, man. That’s it for today then.

Ricky Baez 44:57
Roger that. Alright, folks, that’s it for this episode until next time, drive safe, goodnight.

Pete Newsome 45:03
Bye for now.

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