Skip to main content

Over the years I’ve received many candidate questions that I’m not sure I’m qualified to answer.
The questions have more to do with applying good business judgment than necessarily solid
recruiter advice.

So I’m offering this Male Bag of questions and answers to see if we agree. Before reading my
responses, think through what your advice would be to a candidate. If you don’t agree with my
replies, you should always go with your gut instinct. But please feel free to bookmark this post
when your gut fails you.

Can I bring my own coffee to an in-person interview?
It is safe to assume that the company interviewing you brews their coffee in an ashtray with
equal parts of pond water and instant coffee crystals. It is rude to reject such a gift or set the
precedent that you are too good for such swill. No, the interview is a time to show humility and
grace. If you need a fix beforehand, by all means partake in a pre-interview caffeine fix. Leave
your cup behind to keep your focus on the interview. void any spills or distractions during your
meeting with potential employers.

Is a bow tie appropriate if a company states business attire for an in-office interview?
A bow tie is right for the occasion if you are a diplomat, politician or clown. For all other
professions, it is important to consider what properly reflects the environment. In most cases a
tie will be sufficient. My view is to let your voice be the star of the show, not the cloth 6 inches
below your mouth.

Can I take notes on my phone during the interview?
The only potential issue here is if you live in a society where others are obsessed with social
media and checking their phones every few minutes. In such a case, your taking digital notes
may potentially send the wrong message to an interviewer. The timeless elegance of paper and
pen will work great for taking note if you are unfortunate to live in such a society. If you are
unsure what type of society you live in, simply go to a ballgame and witness if the majority of
people are watching the game or looking at their phones.

Is a thank-you email after the interview necessary?
Yes. There may be exceptions but I can’t think of any right now.

I’m relatively funny, can I use humor during the interviews?
You know what your problem is…you’re not funny. Kidding aside, you are really not that funny.
If you are desperate to show your inner Soupy Sales (yes, you are that kind of funny), then
gauge the interviewer’s demeanor and flow of the conversation before injecting some light
humor. Always err to the conservative. As a wise person never told me, “you don’t want to
have a soupy interview.”

Should I use formal titles when addressing the interviewer? Such as Mr., Ms. or Dr.?
This is one of the few questions, where “depends” is the answer. I’ve also been asked if I wear
boxers or briefs, I also reply “depends” (note: I need to give credit to Mel Brooks for that one).
Here is my quick run-down – for those with doctoral degrees, it is courteous to use the term Dr.
For most others, I believe it is appropriate to use first names as it emphasizes mutual respect
and equality. Both adults have earned the right to call each other by their first name.
The main exception to using first names would be for environments that operate on more
traditional norms. For example, some government agencies still function with high formality and
it is best to adapt to that culture during the interview. Of course if the interviewer invites you to
use his or her first name then certainly follow that lead.

Hire Thought-I’m fairly certain that some recruiters will provide advice very different from what I have shared. Other recruiters may state “wear whatever you want, show your individuality with a bow tie” or
“be yourself and go full-on Soupy from the initial handshake.” My feedback does not come from
a recruiter’s handbook, it just comes from a business perspective and my own personal beliefs.
While it is useful to get other’s perspectives, you need to do some thinking on your own and
reach your own conclusions. Again, I invite you to bookmark this so you can refer back after
spilling your Starbucks on your bow tie as you walk into the interview.

Leave a Reply