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Healthcare executives from across the US will be in Chicago this week for their annual Congress.  I will be speaking on Wednesday afternoon with my colleague Nancy Swain.  The subject of our lecture/workshop will be on interviewing skills.

It is usually flattering when a recruiter calls about a new career opportunity.  We feel valued. 

You may not be interested, and that is OK.  But if you do have an interest, everything youINTEGRITY COMPASS do and say during the recruiting process, how you make decisions and communicate, can dramatically affect your professional brand/reputation in future career endeavors.  This is not the time to be careless or to think that your answers have no consequences.

Here are three issues that tend to sully a candidate’s standing.

Relocation – At the senior level, a full relocation is expected.  Full relocation means to establish your official place of residence in the new community.  Whether you are a CEO, COO, CNO, or CFO, for example, to be truly effective, you must become part of the community.  That is hard to do when you are trying to balance the demands of your family with the requirements/performance expectations of a new employer.  It is not uncommon for executives to request, and for clients to agree, to a plan that allows the executive to go back and forth periodically for 12 to 16 months while a child is finishing high school, property is sold or other personal matters resolved.  But this should not be an every weekend jaunt — more like once a month unless your family lives within two or three hours by car and even then you must be sensitive to your new community’s perceptions of your professional commitment, especially in a smaller market.

Recruiters typically ask candidates during the initial screening interview whether a full relocation will be a problem.  If there are issues, this is the least embarrassing time to explain if there is a family/school situation that will delay the household transition.  While an interim accommodation can usually be arranged, do not tell the recruiter/researcher one thing and then quite another when you show up for the face-to-face interview.  That calls into question a host of other issues you do not ever want raised — such as whether you were not being a good listener or if this is an issue of integrity.

Compensation – If your are a senior executive, you should know the salary range before you agree to seriously evaluate a new career opportunity.  Employers, as a general rule, do not like to exceed salary range for an initial offer.  While there are many things in life which “are a negotiation,” orally agreeing that the specific salary range is acceptable and then asking for substantially more during, or immediately following the site interview, is an unfortunate strategy.  When this happens you make two people look bad — yourself, and the recruiter. 

Reason for the Transition – In the era of Google, your career and reputation are anything but private affairs.  Disclosing why you left your previous organization is not the time to engage in creative story telling.  Be honest, complete and succinct.  We all know that people make mistakes, there are bosses who are not truthful or who are jerks, or that you just did not fit in with your  new employer’s culture.  Those issues typically do not make their way into public view, i.e., Google or some other news search engine.  But if there is publicity, do not make the mistake of thinking that no one will know, or that you can gloss over the issues with dismissive or misrepresentative statements.  There is more career transparency than most people realize and it is silly to exacerbate the damage by being seen as unethical.

In a connected society, where managing your brand is so important to having a successful and rewarding career, these types of candidate missteps can do serious harm to your reputation.