Really good career advice can sometimes be hard to come by for job hunters. There are all sorts of professionals in the industry that are qualified to provide job counselling. It's also easy to find books that spell out general guidelines, give resume-writing tips and point you to where the best jobs are.
Yet there's another whole world of insider information shared by those in the human resources and recruiting business. Like any other group of colleagues, they tell stories about their own jobs when they get together. One of their favourite topics, the one the will usually only speak about confidentially, involves their experiences with the worst interview blunders.
Although those tales can be very interesting, no job seeker wants to be the subject of that kind of conversation. The truth is that some people are quite unaware of their mistakes. Others may not be new to the interview process; they simply never bother to master the techniques. Even seasoned executives can commit the same blunder repeatedly. It happens all the time.
Putting together a list of the worst interview blunders is easy. Narrowing the list down to the top ten isn't as simple. Some of the points may sound like common sense behaviour to many people. Other points may require some thought or planning. At the risk of sounding repetitive or highlighting the obvious, a refresher guide is worth a look. These real life interview blunders continuously occur and can cost candidates the job.
- Don't arrive late to the interview. Although some employers will still follow through with the courtesy of conducting the interview, their minds are already made up about not hiring a tardy employee. If a candidate isn't reliable enough to show up on time for this appointment, how will he or she treat their commitment to a new employer?
- Don't dress inappropriately for an interview. This includes avoiding casual attire, making bold or trendy fashion statements and appearing unkempt. Some of the most common blunders are wearing short pants, sandals, T-shirts, too much jewelery, wrinkled clothing, unpolished shoes and poorly groomed hair and fingernails. It's a good idea to ask someone you trust if there is an ounce of uncertainty.
- Don't leave your mobile/cellular telephone on during the interview. Even worse is if you forget it on and take a call when it rings. Turn it off when you arrive at the facility. If you must be available for emergencies, set the telephone to a vibrate signal and ignore it until the interview is over. Employers don't look favourably on candidates with more important business to conduct than the interview taking place.
- Don't bring anyone with you to the interview. Leave spouses and children at home or arrange for a sitter. If you must rely on someone else for transportation, ask that person to wait in the car and clearly out of sight. Employers don't need to know that a candidate is dependent on another person for keeping their schedule or that children may interfere with their ability to arrive consistently.
- Don't go the interview unprepared. Bring any documents that an employer may want to see. A small leather folder adds a professional look and should contain extra copies of your resume, a current list of references, portfolio samples – if necessary and identification documents. Some employers may be interested in school transcripts as well.
- Don't disparage or make negative remarks about a current or former employer. They make have treated you badly, you may not have parted on good terms or they could be the worst company to work for in the world. No matter what the truth is, avoid the temptation to commiserate. A new employer is a.) not interested and b.) may think you will do the same thing if they hire you and you leave their company.
- Don't volunteer negative information about your past work history. If you were consistently tardy, always ill, made too many personal phone calls, got fired, flirted with the boss, etc. – there is no need to mention it by talking to much. You can end up talking yourself out of a job. It is important to always be honest if asked about a particular situation. However, it is also important to remain focused on discussing your attributes and what qualities you will bring to a new company.
- Don't lie about your credentials, experience, education or skills. It's very easy to verify information and conduct a reference check. Think of the consequences when the deception is discovered. It usually ends in dismissal or a reprimand at the least. Not only is that, but the damage to your reputation with that employer probably not reversible.
- Don't blow the interview with the wrong body language. Poor eye contact, sitting with your arms folded across your chest, fidgeting, foot tapping, staring out the window or constantly checking your watch can send the wrong signals to an interviewer. It's normal to be nervous but try not to let it show. Instead, try to relax, breathe deeply and be your best self.
- Don't discuss salary, benefits, vacations and sick leave unless the interviewer brings up any of those subjects. The interview is all about you, the company, your skills and what you bring to the table. Even if the interviewer broaches the subject, try to answer briefly and redirect the conversation to your qualifications. The only goal of the interview process is to secure a job offer. Once an offer is made, there will be ample time to negotiate the details before you accept the position.
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