This piece isn’t exactly about reference checking, but it’s so important to the hiring process that I think it needs to be addressed.  Just the other day I heard a program on one of the news channels about a recent study on how poorly young people are handling job interviews.  It’s important to state at this point that the face-to-face job interview is probably the most critical part of the hiring process.  Regardless of how well things have gone, it’s the job interview that is the most important moment, especially for young people who are just starting their careers.

        The study to which I referred indicated that a majority of new college graduates have no clue about interviewing skills.  No one has taught them anything about maintaining eye contact with the person conducting the interview for starters.  Nor do the majority of new graduates understand the importance of proper dress and appearance.  Many will continue texting during the interview, not to mention taking iPhone calls during the actual interview.  Any of the aforementioned faux pas are enough for most employers to withhold an offer of employment from a recent graduate. 

        What’s so surprising is that no one has apparently taught these kids about interviewing skills anyplace along the way – not in high school or in college!  The overall impression a job seeker projects has as much to do with actual behavior and appearance as it does with the answers to the questions being asked by the interviewer.  Most of the interviewing skills required would seem obvious to anyone older than about thirty; but, as the study pointed out, kids right out of college don’t seem to have a clue about any of it! 

        Without going through a litany of actual interviewing skills, it’s difficult not to point out that wearing a freshly pressed suit and crisp tie, not to mention having shined shoes, is basic, but essential.  So are a fresh shave and haircut.  For women, a business suit or dress are the uniforms of the day, as well as fresh make-up and a fresh hairdo. 

        It is almost impossible for me to imagine anyone seeking employment texting during a job interview or taking an iPhone call.  Nothing could be ruder!  As an employer, were I to see someone texting while being interviewed, that would be enough for me to end the interview on the spot! 

        Finally, maintaining eye-contact, sitting up straight, being on time, and having a firm handshake are all part of the image every job seeker projects.  The failure to do any of these strongly suggests that the individual isn’t all that interested in the job or his/her future or the opportunity the job presents.  …And economists wonder why unemployment among recent graduates is so high.