About this time last year, I was on the way to my first interview for a job I really wanted. I left my house, walked 10 minutes to the nearest subway station, reached into my purse to get my subway pass … and realized I’d forgotten my wallet.
As I literally ran back to my house in my freshly dry-cleaned interview outfit, I remember thinking that now, not only was I running late, I was also going to show up anxious, out of breath and sweating like I’d come from a last chance workout with Bob Harper.
When I finally checked in at the reception desk five minutes late, I was told that someone would be with me shortly. After about 20 minutes someone came down — to tell me that the hiring manager had just fallen ill and had to go home for the day. The interview would have to be rescheduled.
Normally I might have been disappointed, but in this case, I was thrilled. Long story short, in my second chance at a first interview I was prompt and sweat free, and the hiring manager was healthy (and is now my boss here at CareerBuilder. Hi Kate! )
True story, the point of which is that, whether you’re being interviewed for a job or you’re the one doing the interviewing, we’re all human and sometimes things just go wrong. Wallets are forgotten, people get sick and everyone just needs a second chance.
Except for some people. While it’s true that many mistakes fall under the “we’re all human” clause, others are so avoidable it seems as if people are going out of their way to sabotage themselves. Mistakes like the ones below, which hiring managers gave as real examples in CareerBuilder’s annual “Interview Mistakes” survey:
- Candidate threw his beer can in the outside trashcan before coming into the reception office.
- Candidate hugged hiring manager at the end of the interview.
- Candidate ate all the candy from the candy bowl while trying to answer questions.
- Candidate constantly bad mouthed spouse.
- Candidate blew her nose and lined up the used tissues on the table in front of her.
- Candidate brought a copy of their college diploma that had obviously been white-outed and their name added.
- Candidate wore a hat that said “take this job and shove it.”
- Candidate talked about how an affair cost him a previous job.
- Candidate provided a detailed listing of how previous employer made them mad.
- Candidate had a friend come in and ask “HOW MUCH LONGER?”
While common sense should steer most job seekers far from any of the above, there are plenty of less-extreme mistakes that many hiring managers say candidates make on a regular basis. Here are the most frequent:
- Answering a cell phone or texting during the interview — 71 percent
- Dressing inappropriately — 69 percent
- Appearing disinterested — 69 percent
- Appearing arrogant — 66 percent
- Speaking negatively about a current or previous employer — 63 percent
- Chewing gum — 59 percent
- Not providing specific answers — 35 percent
- Not asking good questions — 32 percent
Yet even in the absence of any of the above mistakes, interviews can still be tough. To ensure yours is a success, Rosemary Heafner, CareerBuilder’s vice president of human resources offers the following tips:
- Keep it upbeat: No matter how long you’ve been searching for a job, or how bad your morning was, leave any negativity or frustration at the door. The hiring manager may be your boss one day, and he or she will be much more likely to want to work with you if you have a positive, engaging attitude. In other words, leave your “Take this job and shove it” hat at home.
- Prepare, prepare, prepare: Researching the company beforehand, memorizing the names and titles of the people you will be interviewing with and figuring out the best way to get to the office will all prevent you from embarrassing situations later. (i.e. when the receptionist asks you who you’re there to see and you can’t remember the person’s name).
- Keep it professional, not personal: Most interviews start out with something to the effect of “Tell me about yourself.” That’s not an open invitation to spew about your discontent with your spouse, as one hiring manager mentioned above. Refrain from discussing over-the-top personal issues and focus on the position and selling yourself.
- Practice does make perfect: Nerves are normal during an interview, so help calm them ahead of time by practicing. Go over common interview questions with a friend or family member, write your answers down, or practice in front of a mirror so you can see your body language.
- Honesty is the best policy: If you’re stumped by an interview question, don’t try to make something up. Admit that you may not know the answer, but then explain how you would go about finding a solution, proving your resourcefulness.
For more on sucessful interviewing, check out: