We all have a million stories about things candidates or employers said during an interview that ended with a terminal case of "the dismals" on both sides. The one thing i haven't seen much about is the art , or lack of same, of "name dropping" in interviews.
In an attempt to gain some sort of intel or credibility, many candidates will try to connect quickly or network with people inside a company prior to an interview. Then they roll into the interview armed with a list of names they "know" who work there. Sometimes the candidate may really have some connection with a current employee. Here's the rub, Katz and Jammers:
A. You have no clue how that person is perceived by HR, the hiring manager or if they are on the way out the door or where just terminated last week and didn't mention that when you connected with them on LinkedIn or Facebook.
B. Be careful that you get the right first name with the right last name if you are going to throw names around. Nothing says "stupid" like referring to Steve Jones and Mike Smith as Steve Smith and Mike Jones as people you know within the company.
C. If they don't really know you or anything about you it becomes abundantly clear when HR or a hiring manager asks that person about you only to discover that you contacted them yesterday in an attempt to "connect" before the interview. A rookie mistake at best. It might not be a bad thing to connect with a current employee to see if they might share something about the company prior to an interview but that info is probably best not shared during the initial interview.
I've had three terminal cases of Hoof N'mouth ,due to name dropping, in the past month that cost candidates a job. One managed to mention that he knew one of the SVP's in another department who had recommended him. Little did he know (and i couldn't tell him) that the person he referrred to was on the way out due to being problematic to the department head with whom he was interviewing.
My question here is, as a recruiter, should i have mentioned to him that it would be a mistake to drop that name? How does one do that without revealing priviledged communication if the candidate asks "Why?" I considered several options, even suggested that it was always a good idea to just focus on the specific questions of the interviewer but as the worm turned, he was asked what he knew about the company and sure enough he dropped the name as his source of information and recommendation. Boom! it was over and worse yet , now i can't tell him why it was over.
What would you have done? From this date forth my mantra to candidates about people they know within a company is going to be to tell them the smart money says , "Don't drop names at all."
What is your experience with the use of names of current employees by candidates during the interview process?