What were you thinking???

 I was driving a big 80’s vintage Buick Electra. For those too young to remember, this big car is big…like aircraft carrier big. I was running late to make an important proposal (identical to arriving for a job interview) so I parked in the first available space, closest to the door, grabbed my suit-coat, and sprinted to check in with the receptionist/security just in time to make my presentation to two very important department heads.

I was not shortlisted to further pursue my highly desired contract. Why?

  1. I arrived in the presentation conference room sweating.
  2. I had not noticed that my mammoth auto’s rear end crossed the yellow parking space lines thus taking up two parking places.
  3. While I was masterfully presenting the high points of my well-written proposal, my prospect sent someone to the parking lot to look in my car.

I asked for and was granted an “exit” interview the purpose of which is to get feedback as to why wasn’t I shortlisted – exactly the same as not being invited for a second interview. I learned that my prospective client had three proposals scheduled that day and was observing the presenters’ silent communication from the moment we stepped onto company property till the moment we left.

In my case, they reported observed me almost late, rattled because of it, not respectful of company policy (the yellow-lined parking spaces), and a few empty wadded up McDonald’s bags on the floor in my back seat, business materials and files on the back seat and the passenger seat, and several empty Starbuck’s cups in the cup-holders…three to be exact. They reported to me that my cluttered car was indicative of my possibly cluttered mind, desk, etc. They didn’t care that that the car needed washing.

As a result of that experience, I have interviewed countless medium to large employers and found that the vast majority of them do observe, and many train their people to observe job candidates’ silent communication, i.e. body language, inside the car, grooming, attire, etc.

Quite a lesson learned the hard way; now, you just learned it the easy way.

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