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Recruitment Horror Story – Let’s get physical…

RecruitMentor Horror StoriesOver the last 17 years in recruitment, I’ve seen and heard a lot of things. Many good. Many bad. And some downright concerning. In the spirit of looking on the lighter side of life, every Friday I’m going tell stories that amuse now – even if they baffled at the time. Be warned – these are not the way to go about your business…!


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This one’s a first-hand story… very literally.

Of all the cardinal sins that a jobseeker can commit during an interview, touching the interviewer has got to rate up there as a definite no-no.

True, there are several shades of grey between a firm handshake and full-on molestation attempts but only a couple of shades of physical contact that I’d say fall into the “ok” category. Handshake, fine. If the interview’s gone exceptionally well and you’re acting like a couple of old buddies by the end, you might get away with a friendly clap on the shoulder. If you find out you like the same sports team, a high five is totally permissible – providing the interviewer initiates it. But that’s it.

And most people “get it”.

But not all.

Of all the people I’ve ever interviewed (and there have been a lot!), only one chap has ever crossed the line when it came to personal boundaries. Necessity had forced us into a smaller room than I would usually interview in, so we were sitting at a 45 degree angle from each other, chatting over coffee. The candidate was talkative and easy to get along with. We shared a couple of laughs and all was going fine – until he made a comment that he found so amusing, he laughed and put his hand on my leg. Not calf – mid thigh.

Dude, no! Not cool!

Oh, I know it was a careless act, probably something that he would do naturally with his mates in a similar situation. But I was his potential employer and it was a smidge early in our relationship for that level of contact. Heck, none of my long term employees got much more than a handshake or a hug out of me. Leg touching, no matter how funny the joke (and I don’t remember it, so it can’t have been that amusing) is a NO GO.

I liked the guy and was thinking about giving him a go at the job. I wasn’t convinced but I was leaning towards a yes – until the leg touching. Not because I was scandalised or offended but because it made me question his thought processes… if he was going to do that in an interview with me, what would happen if he went to meet a client or candidate and their meeting went well? It didn’t bear thinking about. If he didn’t “get” the no touchy-touchy rule, what other basic common sense practices might have flown under his radar? So it was a pass from me in the end. Hey, if you can’t commit wholeheartedly, don’t commit at all.