In a labor market where a single open position can receive resumes from dozens, even hundreds of hopeful applicants, just getting to the interview stage is an accomplishment for many job seekers. But once one lands the elusive interview, what are the sure-fire ways to make the wrong impression?
In a nationwide CareerBuilder survey conducted by Harris Interactive© among more than 3,000 employers, hiring and human resource managers were asked to rate the biggest mistakes candidates make during interviews and share their most unusual interview memories.
Most Harmful Common Mistakes
Hiring managers say the following are the mistakes most detrimental to your interview performance:
• Answering cell phone or texting: 77 percent
• Appearing disinterested: 75 percent
• Dressing inappropriately: 72 percent
• Appearing arrogant: 72 percent
• Talking negatively about current or previous employers: 67 percent
• Chewing gum: 63 percent
Most Unusual Interviews
Several thousand hiring managers shared their most memorable or unusual interview experiences. Here are some of the highlights:
• Candidate brought a “how to interview book” with him to the interview.
• Candidate asked, “What company is this again?”
• Candidate put the interviewer on hold during a phone interview. When she came back on the line, she told the interviewer that she had a date set up for Friday.
• When a candidate interviewing for a security position wasn’t hired on the spot, he painted graffiti on the building.
• Candidate wore a Boy Scout uniform and never told interviewers why.
• Candidate was arrested by federal authorities during the interview when the background check revealed the person had an outstanding warrant.
• Candidate talked about promptness as one of her strengths after showing up ten minutes late.
• On the way to the interview, the candidate passed, cut-off, and flipped his middle finger at the driver who happened to be the interviewer.
• Candidate referred to himself in the third person.
• Candidate took off his shoes during the interview.
• Candidate asked for a sip of the interviewer’s coffee.
• Candidate told the interviewer she wasn’t sure if the job offered was worth “starting the car for.”
“It may seem unlikely that candidates would ever answer a cell phone during an interview, or wear shorts, but when we talk to hiring managers, we remarkably hear these stories all of the time,” says Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources for CareerBuilder. “However, for most job seekers avoiding a big mistake isn’t the issue—it’s standing out from the crowd. A successful interview is a presentation that marries one’s personality and professional experience to the needs of the hiring manager and the company. Knowing how to do that successfully can be difficult, but with preparation and practice, candidates can greatly improve their interview skills.”
Haefner recommends the following interview tips:
Do your research: Before the interview, research the company online by looking at their press room for recent company news, the ‘About Us’ section for information about the company culture, and the list of products and services so you are familiar with all they do. Having this knowledge will allow you to easily answer and ask questions during the interview.
Keep it upbeat: Many job seekers may be experiencing tougher than usual job searches in this economy. During the interview, stay positive, emphasize what you learned from the situation and stay away from bad mouthing previous employers.
Prepare examples and ideas: Bring your resume to life by practicing specific anecdotes that highlight your accomplishments and how you dealt with challenges in your past roles. Be prepared to share ideas of what you would bring differently to the position. Doing so shows the hiring manager that you are already thinking strategically.
For more information, visit www.careerbuilder.com.