Your Job Interview Starts on the Commute

Your job interview starts in the lobby of your prospective employer’s building, goes the old cliché. In other words, treat everybody you meet nicely, because word of your behavior will inevitably filter back to your interviewer.

But what if that advice is wrong? What if your interview starts on your commute?

Matt Buckland, head of talent and recruiting at London-based Forward Partners, was on his way to work one recent morning when he accidentally blocked another man from exiting the subway car. The man shoved him out of the way, yelling something highly inappropriate. Sounds like a garden-variety bit of rudeness, no? Except the man later showed up at Forward Partners—ready to interview for a developer job with Buckland.

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“It was totally awkward,” Buckland later told the BBC, after his tweet relating the story went viral. “So I approached it by asking him if he’d had a good commute that morning. We laughed it off and in a very British way I somehow ended up apologizing.” Although the two men patched it up, the applicant didn’t get the job.

In response to Buckland’s story, a number of recruiters and bosses have come forward on Twitter to talk about their experiences with rude people who later turned out to be interviewees. There’s a moral here: If you’re heading for a job interview, it probably pays to be on your best behavior from the moment you wake up.

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Image: Twitter

8 Responses to “Your Job Interview Starts on the Commute”

  1. Might I suggest that the interview begins LONG before your arrival, your commute or even your day. Your interview begins with living a life of Character and Principle! A life that shows you know how to respond to stressful situations, rather than react to them. Likely, if you are the type of person to go off on somebody in a crowded subway car, you have been known by others, previously, to have a short fuse. Live a stellar life. Be an example to others. Treat others as you would WANT to be treated and THEN…….take the real you into the interview!

  2. Karma has a great way of biting you in the behind. I agree with David above. It doesn’t take much to be polite. Treat others how you want to be treated and it comes back to you more times than not.

  3. Robert

    We are all human, and we do very inconsiderate things to one another all the time. What gets me is, even though Matt claims they both mutually patched things up… in the end Matt “The recruiting authority” yielded to his ego instead of the qualities and professional abilities that the applicant brought to the table, so he elected to not hire him. I could maybe see not giving the applicant any consideration if his behavior continued terribly upon arrival, but Matt said it was patched up which clearly it wasn’t. | As a recruiter myself, I was trained to be unbiased in our evaluating process. We hire or recommend talent based purely on ability, skill sets, and professionalism alone. We evaluate the whole picture not if this person is willing to be our YES man. Now in Matt’s defense he never mentioned if was lacking professionally or not so if that was a major reason for the rejection… Understood. Somehow, I doubt it happened that way.

  4. @Robert
    If the interviewee was that reactive and rude, it says something about his character. While the interviewer may have patched things up, does he really want an employee who responds to stress by reacting angrily and violently? It is not about ego but about choosing an applicant which will be a good employee. This applicant has demonstrated he may not be that person. It is the same the other way around. If I was going to interview someone and I saw them stop and pick up a piece of trash on the floor and put it in a garbage can, I would assume he had good qualities which would make him a good employee. Our actions are an indicator of our character, one way or the other.

  5. Bob Loblaw

    I had already got the job and on my up to the office on day one, I held the elevator for a woman. She pressed the same floor I was going up to and I nicely said “Oh, you work there too? It’s my first day…” I introduced myself and asked her what she did there. Turns out her daddy started the company and she was the CFO. Was a total beeyatch to me (and everyone else) the entire time I worked there. I was well-liked around the office and was even in tight with the CFO’s best friend (who thought the world of me) but even that connection didn’t help. Oh well, I realized that she was most likely not the happiest person in the world and because of that, I only wished skin cancer on her. Hey, I could have went with anal cancer, but I have a heart, you know?

  6. SqueakyRat

    Robert — Is the fact that the candidate is an [expletive] supposed to irrelevant to a hiring decision? And another thing: you may be unaware of this, but it is in fact not true that we all do very inconsiderate things to each other all the time,i.e. not everyone is an [expletive].