How Your Spouse Can Cost You a Job

In her two decades of interviewing potential employees, Jeanne Achille, CEO of The Devon Group, a communications firm in Middletown, N.J., said one candidate in particular stands out.

"During a final interview when I was going to make an offer, the candidate arrived with his wife in tow," Achille said. "She proceeded to grill me about our intentions and share insights into her husband's requirements."

To Achille, the flag was crimson red.

"She was his mouthpiece," the CEO explained. "I politely thanked her for joining the meeting but said that I would need to interact with her husband since he would be the person joining the organization."

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Although the husband snapped to and took the wheel, Achille said, his wife continued to backseat drive.

"She sat back but prompted him with questions: 'Ask about the dental insurance. What about the paid time off policy?'" Achille said.

With so many Americans worried about losing their job, finding a new one and not having enough money to pay their bills, it's understandable that spouses have a vested interest in their partner's employment prospects.

But according to those in the hiring seat, helicopter spouses who hover over the interview process aren't doing their husband or wife any favors. If anything, they're damaging their chances of landing the position.

Can't Manage Your Spouse? You Probably Can't Manage the Job

Although Achille wound up hiring the guy with the helicopter wife, she doubts he would have stood a chance for same the position in today's hyper-competitive job market.

"In today's climate, we now average at least 25 candidates within moments of a job posting," Achille explained.

"I would seriously reconsider a candidate with a helicoptering spouse," she said. "On the other end of the interview and negotiation process is someone who will interrupt the team's workday with zillions of phone calls. It's simply not worth it."

For William Gaffney, owner of Amaxa Group, a recruiting and career coaching firm in Dayton, Ohio, spousal interference is indicative of a larger problem with a job applicant.

"A non-managed meddling spouse demonstrates the candidate will have poor management skills," he said. What's more, he added, "The candidate might be easily swayed by others."

Besides, Gaffney continued, "Any potential offer is likely to blow up because the spouse will end up in the middle of it. If a candidate does make a decision, chances are very high the spouse will convince them to change their mind if the spouse doesn't like it."

To Love, Honor and Shill?

A Boston recruiter who didn't want her name used -- let's call her "Nicole" -- couldn't agree more.

At the end of 2008, Nicole, who works at an employment agency, got a resume and spoke by phone with a mid-level manager who had a job but was looking for a new position.

"The next day, I received a call and an e-mail from her husband," Nicole said. "He told me, 'My wife's very busy during the day and I'm helping her with her job search.'"

When Nicole explained that she needed to speak directly with the wife, the husband said he preferred that all communication about his wife's job search go through him.

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