Interview Gaffes

The job interview is a critical stage of the hiring process. This is your chance to show your interviewer why you should be hired – or not. Many factors play into a hiring decision.  The following are ways that you can sabotage this important stage:

You’re going to be late.  You risk being disregarded as a future employee, especially if you do not show up at all.  NEVER not show up, or at least call, when you have made a commitment.  With some damage control, you can rectify the situation.

Call the interviewer and explain that you’re running late. Whether it’s because your car broke down, your bus was late, or you got lost, say why. Sincerely acknowledge your mistake and apologize over having made them wait.   Ask if it is still okay for you to come to the interview.  If you’re more than 10 minutes late, be prepared for them to cancel or reschedule the interview. Have alternative times and days ready if they do. This shows that you respect your interviewer’s time.

Upon arrival at the location, pause for a moment and take a deep breath to compose yourself.  Then walk in and greet your interviewer with a firm handshake.  Maintain eye contact as you briefly apologize again for your tardiness.  Be prepared to adjust your interviewing style if there is now less time available to complete the process.  Don’t rush your answers, and remain calm and confident in your demeanor.

You are not enthusiastic. A job candidate who seems lackluster or unenthusiastic about the job prospect will almost certainly become an employee who isn’t engaged with the work. Employers want candidates who seem committed and excited, so don’t hesitate to articulate your interest in the job.  You may also raise concern if you simply state that ‘you’ll take anything’, or act bitter about past experiences.

Being rude to the receptionist. Don’t just be on your best behavior with your interviewer; make sure that you’re polite to everyone you encounter. Many interviewers will ask the receptionist what they think of you. If you were rude or arrogant, that’s usually a deal-breaker.

Not being able to give specific examples in response to questions. If you claim that you excel at problem-solving or that you’re an innovative genius and then you aren’t able to give specific examples, interviewers aren’t going to believe you. Make sure to come to the interview prepared with specific examples from your past that show how you’ve used your skills at work.  Know and use the right terminology.  If you are applying for an accounting position, and cannot describe what Receivables are, you’re in trouble.

Answering your cell phone in the middle of the interview. If you forget to turn your phone off and it rings, that’s forgivable, but answering it isn’t. If your phone rings mid-interview, look mortified and apologize – and then turn it off.

Sharing inappropriately. Resist the impulse to talk about how much you hated your old company, or your family’s medical problems – unless it will impact your work availability. Employers want to know that you understand professional boundaries and have a sense of discretion.

Lying about anything. However much you might wish that you could change the facts about why you left your last job or say that you finished your degree when you really didn’t, lying in a hiring process is an instant deal-breaker. Employers want to hire candidates with integrity, not people who show they’re willing to lie. And while you might think you won’t get caught, you never know whom your employer might know who knows the truth.

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