Only in the Movies, Baby — Job Search Behavior that Doesn’t Work in Real Life

Posted: 07/02/2010 in Interviewing
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Characters in films do all kinds of appalling things when they’re job-hunting that don’t fly in real life. Here are some of the most cringe-worthy:

  • Dress in goofy clothes in a job interview. Tom Hanks wears a powder-blue jacket in an interview scene in “Big.” Of course, he’s supposed to be only twelve, which is pretty much the only way you can get away with that kind of outfit. Generally speaking, a dark suit with a shirt or blouse that doesn’t glow in the dark (a little color is okay) is what you want to shoot for.
  • Beg for the job. In the movie, “Married to the Mob,” when Michelle Pfeiffer interviews for a job at a hair salon, she says to the owner, “I really need this job; please give me a chance.” Yeah, thanks for sharing. Employers don’t hire you because YOU need the job. They hire you because THEY need someone with your many talents.
  • Have a lover’s spat in front of a business prospect. That would be Melanie Griffith in “Working Girl.” Never a good idea to blatantly display your love life in a work situation, unless you’re an actor.
  • Show up at an interview looking like you spent the night in prison. After a series of mishaps, including getting mugged, having to sleep in Central Park, almost getting arrested with his hand in a little boy’s pocket and losing a tooth,  Jack Lemmon interviews for a sales job in “The Out-of-Towners” with no explanation whatsoever for his homeless appearance. Should you run into a snag on the way to an interview that results in your arriving looking like you’ve been digging through trash, it’s true that you don’t want to go into a long rambling account of your horrible experience and how traumatized you are. It’s still preferable, though, to give a brief and to-the-point explanation of why you look like crap than to just ignore it, like you always look like that.
  • Tell an interviewer that you don’t have any experience, but you learn fast. Jesse Eisenberg says something similar in “Adventureland.” Even entry-level jobs in real life do require either some work experience or concrete skills you use in your everyday life, which you have to spell out for the employer. Just saying you learn fast won’t cut it.
  1. Andrew Hall says:

    I’m not supposed to take life lessons from movies?

    It’s cheaper than therapy.

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