How Weird is Too Weird at an Interview?

Dawn Burke Dawn Hrdlica, Interviewing, Working With Recruiters

So I was at a networking recently when a recruiting colleague said to me…

“I interviewed a guy for an IT job and he was weird as all-get-out.  At some point I didn’t even care if he was qualified.”

Interesting statement – so it got me thinking… from the perspective of a recruiter, is there a point of no return for interviewees on the “weirdness-scale” during an interview?

2553834864_25a0d6fd5f  So my brain started churning these HR reference points:

  • Does it matter if weirdness doesn’t affect the job? (HR answer:  No, it doesn’t)
  • Does it matter if the job actually requires some weirdness to excel?  What do I mean?  If you are interviewing to be a taste tester for a Mouthwash Company or if you need to be uber-creative like a graphic artist, tattoo artist, or an actor….weirdness may be OK. (HR answer :  No, it doesn’t).
  • Does it matter if the perceived weirdness is due to a medical issue? (HR answer : ABSOLUTELY NO, it doesn’t)
  • So where on the natural (un-medically-effected) pendulum, is the weirdness point-of-no-return during an interview?

Well friends, Weirdness is as Weirdness Does. Great news for you weirdo’s looking for a job – you can be as weird as the person interviewing.  And friends, there are some weird interviewers.  What skilled candidates need to do is quickly assess how weird their interviewer is.  Candidates… and this is important… if you are not able to do this – then, reign in the weirdness.

We all know that there are a million different personalities at work; this includes candidates and interviewers. The uniqueness of the individual makes life worth living and work a better place to be.   But we are talking about getting a job.  The reality for the interviewee is this: many people in work environments choose not to let their freak-flags-fly.  So even if your interviewer is weird to the core – at work, he/she may not want their boss to know that; or their clients; or their shareholders.  And that translates to the interview.

Bottom Line:  If you have to question whether or not your behavior is weird… then it is likely too weird for an interview.  Odds are great that your interviewers are looking for polish, class, and (most importantly) sound judgment during the interview.  If you choose to “go-for-broke” on the weirdness scale during your next interview (even for that creative job), your chances of landing the job simply go down.  And usually not because of whatever is outwardly “weird”, but rather, because your sense of judgment will be questioned about using the interview forum to showcase your “freak-flag”.