Clean my car? Really?

By Kathryn Lorenzen, Principal/Career Development Coach, AfterSchool Career Workshops

In my work as a recruiter, I’m always talking with hiring managers about their process. It’s good for me to stay in touch with how they find their candidates, what their screening processes are like, and how they make decisions on whom to hire.

That’s what you’re really interested in, right? Since the percentage of recent grads getting hired in their fields are pretty low (as low as 20%, according to recent reports), due to overwhelming competition with more experienced workers willing to work for lower wages…it’s good to know all the ways to make a good impression.

Well, here’s a new one. An experienced hiring manager, in describing his screening process to hire an entry-level marketing coordinator, said that after the interview he routinely walks the candidate out of the building and to their car. Why? So that he can see how they maintain their ride. He says he’s not the least bit interested in the make or model, but that he does consider: Is it clean and presentable? Are there piles of trash in the front seat or on the floor? Are there offensive or off-color bumper stickers or decals?

Now this may be an example of a hiring manager taking candidate screening to an extreme, but it does serve as a metaphor for the whole process of presenting yourself for hire. You have to be prepared to be evaluated on the basis of every part of yourself you show to the world.

So maybe we just keep one clean car, and we’ll pass it around for whoever has an interview? Works for me.