Would you still hire a candidate who chewed gum during an interview? What would be your reaction?

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A recent discussion on LinkedIn about  interviews and gum chewing has me curious to find out what your thoughts are on gum chewing in an interview.

Here’s the scenario:

Imagine your hiring for a position at your location.  The candidate who is coming in to interview shows promise.  After introductions and a welcoming hello, you both sit down.  Suddenly, you notice the candidate is chewing gum.  What would you do?  Would you still consider the candidate for the position?

My thoughts… People are far, far too quick to formulate the wrong impression. I find it a bit ignorant not to hire someone based on this alone. I’ve personally witnessed candidates who make “mistakes” during the interview, go on to be top performing employees. If the candidate has the ability to do the role and be a good “fit” then a simple conversation is too easy.  in most gum chewing cases, it was probably last minute forgetfulness due to being nervous for an interview.

Interviews are a time that we must measure people against others and make decisions based on what we know.  It can be hard for people to see past small, easily corrected behaviors.  I would encourage anyone who makes hiring decisions to be open minded, empathetic and honest.  We are all just human after all.  We make mistakes.  We live. We learn. This world would be a terribly boring place if we were all perfect.

Chewing gum is not considered appropriate professional behavior for an interview.  I say why not.  If it’s not distracting or taking away from the conversation. Don’t let what is dictate what has to be. Question the status quo. Advocate change.  Otherwise, we would still be living in caves, or supporting injustices such as slavery.

How would you handle a candidate chewing gum?  Would you still hire them?  Have you ever chewed gum at an interview or workplace?

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3 thoughts on “Would you still hire a candidate who chewed gum during an interview? What would be your reaction?

  1. Very thought provoking in today’s ‘geeky/ nerdy’ young brilliant brats context – many of them brilliant at what they do and habitual gum-chewers. Talking from my own experience as a team leader throughout my career, I have counselled team-members if they were found to be chewing gum at work or in the field to ensure they never did so and especially not if they were out visiting customers or the trade. However, they have not suffered professionally either in the form of rejection or for attitude

  2. I enjoyed the question. As a hiring professional you always have to take a step back and not prejudge. If the candidate was not lip smacking and popping bubbles I would continue the interview. If the candidate was obnoxious chewing the gum I would have to speak up, i.e. share that the company’s GMP policy is no eating, drinking and chewing gum in production and provide a napkins or tissue for the candidate to remove the gum.

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