Texts, pets and parents: Millennials need interview etiquette lessons

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As university graduation season approaches a whole new cohort of young candidates will be crowding your doorway. But are they missing some manners?

According to a new survey, HR pros have seen everything from texting and taking calls during interviews, to inappropriate clothing and language.

About half of HR executives say most recent grads are not professional their first year on the job, up from 40% of executives who had that view in 2012, according to a recent survey by the Center for Professional Excellence at York College of Pennsylvania.

"It's behavior that may be completely appropriate outside the interview," Jaime Fall, vice president of the HR Policy Association, told USA Today. "The interview is still a traditional environment."

Fall said coddling from parents has made the problem worse, with young people being told “You’re perfect just the way you are. Do whatever you’re comfortable doing.”

Up to 20% of young applications display such behaviour, according to the survey, and attitudes are prompting recruiters to rule out otherwise qualified candidates for entry-level positions and delay hiring decisions.

According to Manpower executive vice president Mara Swan, it’s a reflection of a culture that’s becoming increasingly casual. “They don’t realize [the interview] is a sales event,” she added.

In one particularly off-the-wall interview decision, a college senior brought her cat into an interview for a buyer's position at clothing retailer American Eagle. She set the crate-housed cat on the interviewer's desk and periodically played with it. "It hit me like—why would you think that's OK?" Mark Dillon, the chain's former recruiting director, said. "She cut herself off before she had a chance."

Have you seen weird interview behaviour? Is it specific to young candidates?

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Texts, pets and parents: Millennials need interview etiquette lessons


  • Cathy on 2013-05-01 1:25:00 PM

    PLEASE!!! Post this with every University/College bulletin you possibly can! Your remarks are completely dead on! I cannot beleive the lack of professionalism and common sense you see among newer graduates!

  • Jennifer Chiasson on 2013-05-05 6:42:33 AM

    I would agree that this could be a result of parenting styles and would guess that this is seen more with young people or those without experience in the workforce yet. Perhaps a good reaction to this would be to introduce etiquette education at a high school level?

  • Stephanie Smith on 2013-05-06 7:06:21 PM

    Being a university student myself, I don't think that all young candidates behave this way in interviews or that it is only people my age who behave this way in an interview. I've worked for many different companies while in high school and university and I've seen some questionable interview candidates of varying ages. Maybe its not so much a generation defect as it is a general defect that is just becoming noticed more because people stay with companies for shorter spans of time due to lay offs and wage decreases.

  • Mohammed Almari on 2013-05-10 10:58:56 PM

    I have never herd of weird interview behave but in my perspective schools and universities must offer some training courses of how to behave in a job interview.

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