On-the-job humor

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As a human resources manager, I’ve had my share of serious moments.

But, as in every other profession, I’ve had my share of laughs, too.

Throughout my years as a recruiter, I’ve provided countless advice to potential candidates that helped guide them toward their ideal job. However, of the hundreds of candidates that have taken our good advice, there’s occasionally one that take it far too literally.

Here are some examples of how good advice can go bad.

And your prom queen is …

Early in my career, a young woman came to interview for a position with a long-time client. He essentially needed Superwoman, and I thought I had miraculously found her in this wonderful woman who could perform all the tasks he required.

She’d come into my office dressed rather casually, as I had asked her to come for the interview on short notice. I suggested she wear her best dress for the interview with the client, because although I knew her skills would get her far, appearance was also key. I was on eggshells that whole afternoon, but sure my client would be pleased.

After the interview, he phoned me and said simply, ”What are you trying to do to me?”

She’d shown up decked to the nines in her prom gown. From head to toe, with hair styled, a pink chiffon dress, satin pump shoes and a big bow in the back, my ideal candidate had gone all out to look her best.

The hilarity was compounded when the receptionist called back to my client and said, ”Your prom date is here!”

When doling out advice, be specific. If I would have said, ”Wear your best suit,” my ideal and very eager candidate might not have shown up ready to party at the prom. Although she may have not gotten the job, at least she got to wear her prom gown again.

There’s a buzz going around the office

Another young woman also fitted what my client was seeking. This one had all the skills and talent, but was lacking in one thing — enthusiasm.

I told her she would need to appear more enthused to win the position and suggested she drink a cup of coffee before the interview to pep herself up. Then I sent her to meet my client.

Imagine my horror when he called me, once again, to ask what on earth I was trying to do to him. This candidate also took my advice far too literally. During the interview, she got up four times and paced around the chair, almost dancing like a bee.

The reason? She’d taken a few caffeine pills before the interview, to, as I suggested, ”pep herself up.”

Needless to say, neither of these great candidates was hired. While I can laugh now, I was mortified at the time.

I’ve learned that when offering advice to a prospective job candidate, it’s wise to choose your words carefully. And when accepting advice from a recruiter, take everything with a grain of salt.

Use your own common sense as well as the advice of an expert. Tammy Beckwith ([email protected]) is human resources manager at Vector Technical Inc. Mentor-based Vector Technical places temporary, contract and permanent employees in high-tech and industrial positions at all levels from upper management to assembly, production and clerical positions. She can be reached at (440) 946-8800 or at www.vectortechnicalinc.com.