As a job candidate, it’s only natural to want to hide things from your potential employers, like the real reason you got let go from your previous job or the fact that the position you’re interviewing for isn’t exactly your first choice.
But you aren’t the only one with secrets. Based on my 15 years of experience as a hiring manager, here are the top five things recruiters and employers don’t want job candidates to know:
1. Your personality can make or break your chances.
It’d be nice to live in a completely fair and unbiased world — one where you get your dream job based only on merit and credentials.
But let’s say you exceeded expectations and the final decision came down to you and another equally qualified candidate. In many cases, the employer will pick the person they clicked with or got along with the most.
This is why, during the interview process, don’t just make it a point to show why you’re the best person for the job, but also actively try to build rapport with your interviewers. Getting them to like who you are as a person is just as important as getting them to like your skills and experience.
2. They cyberstalk you as much as possible.
Employers want to learn about the real you, not just the professional side that’s revealed in your resume and during interviews. So you can bet that they’ll be doing a thorough Google search of your name and checking your social media profiles.
On top of that, expect them to reach out to your previous employers and colleagues — without giving you the heads up. This is especially common if you have mutual connections on LinkedIn.
So if there’s anything online (e.g., on Instagram and Facebook) that you think can hurt your chances of getting the job, make sure you clean it up before applying to the job.
3. There is such a thing as getting blacklisted.
From lying on your resume to repeatedly nagging an employer for updates, making a first bad impression can ruin your chances of ever being considered for a job at a specific company again.
According to recruiting software company Bullhorn’s anonymous survey of 1,500 hiring managers, applying to irrelevant jobs topped the list of pet peeves for recruiters. Forty-three percent of respondents said that they would go so far as to “blacklist” such candidates and suppress their names from resume searches.
If you started off on the wrong foot, consider asking for constructive feedback about what went wrong and if there’s anything you can do to fix it. This might not be effective in getting you off the blacklist, but, at the very least, it shows you tried to make things right.
4. There are ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ answers to open-ended interview questions.
Are you more of an introvert or an extrovert? What type of work environment do you excel in? What are your biggest strengths and weaknesses? Why should you get the job?
These questions may appear harmless, but don’t be fooled. Recruiters pragmatically ask them to identify whether you’ll be a good fit for the position and the company work culture. If you say something out of line with what they want to hear, your chances of getting hired will drop significantly.
The best way to make sure you’re prepared for tricky, open-ended questions is to make a list of your strongest assets (e.g., skills, knowledge, personal qualities, experience, hobbies) that match the job’s requirements, as well as a few examples of how you’ve put each asset to good use.
5. They always lowball the initial salary offer.
It makes sense, right? Employers don’t want to pay more than they have to — and if salary is up for negotiation, they’d be shooting themselves in the foot by starting off with the highest bid.
That’s why you should always start the interview process knowing what you’re worth. Then, once you’ve made it through to the final rounds, revisit and reevaluate that number.
With a strong understanding of what your salary range should be — based on your industry, experience, and what you can bring to the table — you’ll have more confidence in the negotiation process, which will then increase your chances of getting what you want.