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Job Interviews Hiring Screening Applicants Stereotyping

I went to lunch with an outstanding applicant, and I must say that he has terrible manners. I'm not a stickler about this, but he chews with his mouth open, talks with food in his mouth, reaches across the table for food, and so on. He's got the right experience and credentials for the job, but I'm concerned about this. Should I be?

If the only factor preventing you from hiring this outstanding applicant is his lack of polished manners, then in a manner of speaking, you need to polish your hiring skills. When you find an applicant with questionable energy, persistence or interpersonal skills, then you would have a real basis for being concerned. But, table manners? They can be easily fixed.

There is a cottage industry premised on providing up-and-coming professionals with training in manners, poise, and etiquette. If skills in these areas are truly important for success in your company, you could consider providing this individual, and presumably others in your company, with some training in this area.

However, it may also be helpful to step back and recognize that this individual has done well in his career to this point, in spite of his manners. Perhaps manners are less important for success in your industry than you may think. Either way, unless you have validated data that unequivocally prove that applicants who chew and talk with their mouths open tend to fail on the job, it would be impolite and impolitic to include table manners as one of your hiring criteria.

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Reader comments

Posted by Lipur on 2012-03-21 17:56:04
This is really scary. I am a rcenet graduate and I am certified to teach 4-12 Science and yet I have NO JOB. Every time I tell some one new that I want to teach science they reply, oh we need science teachers! you are sure to get a job! What makes me so bitter is that I live with 30 minutes to 9 districts in the DFW area. I can't even count how many schools that is unfortunately, I could barely get a sub position this spring! I have attended the Teacher Recruitment for 2 districts so far and will attend many more as possible but it really seems as though the principals are just there because they are required! Everyone is scared in this economy but I never thought that the crunch would affect teaching. I am hopeful, and I think your advice is great I really have no other choice but to not give up!!