Easy Ways To Completely Blow Your Job Interview

interview blundersBy Kelly Eggers


When you go on a job interview, failing to impress the hiring manager with your eloquence may be the least of your worries. There are some things you might do that go way beyond flubbing a tough question.

We asked nine recruiters and job search experts to share interview horror stories -- the biggest blunders, faux pas, and missteps they've seen -- to bring you a compilation of things to avoid in an interview if you want to be called back for a second round.


1. Run late. Even better, run late, and don't call.

Everyone is human -- we get flat tires, flights get canceled -- and interviewers understand that. So while your best bet is to be on time, if you make every effort to contact the interviewer as soon as you know you'll be late, you may still have a fighting chance at the job.

A good rule of thumb is to arrive 10 to 15 minutes in advance.

"There is such a thing as being too early," says David Lewis, president of Conn.-based HR consultant OperationsInc. "That's what Starbucks is for."

You might assume that there is an application to fill out when you arrive -- but you should also assume that your interviewer accounted for that when they scheduled you.

And if you really don't want the job:

"A candidate completed an amazing phone interview, and we were really looking forward to meeting them, but they never showed up. The candidate evidently had a flat tire, but didn't think to call us until well over 24 hours later."

-- Skye Callan, an interactive marketing director at Calif.-based recruitment marketing agency CKR Interactive


2. Overschedule yourself.

Whether you're unemployed or a passive job-seeker, it's important to remember that looking for a job is a full-time job. You'll need to meticulously manage your time -- so if you need to schedule an interview for your lunch break, eat a big breakfast; don't go into the interview with your stomach growling, says Lewis but don't bring your lunch with you, or come between your workout and your shower, either.

And if you really don't want the job:

"A candidate sent me an e-mail saying he didn't answer when I called because he had another interview today and he needed to 'take a break from that process.'"

-- Shilonda Downing, president of Virtual Work Team, a Flossmoor, Ill.-based recruiter and temporary staffing firm


3. Act like you're going out to a bar.

Between too-tight clothes, flirtatious mannerisms, and exposed chest hair, anything that you'd do or wear in a bar setting is bad for an interview.

"An interview is not an opportunity to improve your social life," says Lewis.

"A couple of years ago I had a candidate try to work the angle of being overly friendly with everyone in the interview room," says Callan. "It got to the point where we couldn't end the interview quickly enough."

And if you really don't want the job:

"A young woman dressed extremely inappropriately, forgetting to wear undergarments. In spite of what she may have thought, it was a sure-fire way not to get asked back for a second interview!"

-- Paul Solomon, founder of Wall Street recruiting firm Solo Management


4. Wait a week to send a thank you note. Or don't send one at all.

Sending a post-interview thank you note should be as instinctive as brushing your teeth twice a day. While the debate ensues over e-mailed versus handwritten notes, many experts suggest that e-mailed notes are just as effective.

"Handwritten notes are more thoughtful," says Vicki Salemi, an accounting recruiter who has worked in HR at KPMG and Deloitte, and author of Big Career in the Big City, "but they put you at a disadvantage over someone who instantaneously e-mails one the same day."

If you do choose to e-mail, keep it simple: "Send me a simple note -- not a Bible. Nothing I need to scroll down through," says Lewis.

And if you really don't want the job:

"Send a single thank you e-mail cc'ing everyone with whom you had an interview that week – [even if they are all] at different companies."

-- Kathy Simmons, CEO of Calif.-based recruiter Netshare


5. Use your cell phone in the meeting.

"Cell phones don't belong in an interview," says Salemi, unless you're using it before you arrive to let them know your car broke down and you're running late. "Once you make contact, it should be off and out of sight."

For many, this may seem like common sense, but Salemi says she's seen it all. Busy job-seekers lining up interviews may be nervous to miss another recruiter's call, but the interview will end quickly if you take one during the meeting.

"One candidate gave me the 'talk to the hand' motion," says Salemi. "It should be you and the interviewer. That's it."

And if you really don't want the job:

"Take a call during the interview from a girl you just started dating and sweet-talk her."

-- Lewis of OperationsInc.


6. Give support staff an attitude.

"Don't underestimate the importance of the person receiving you in an office," says Lewis. What he or she says to her superiors before and after the interview often carries a tremendous amount of influence. "Chances are, they're going to call or instant-message the person you're interviewing with," says Lewis, and you don't want them to say "good luck with this one."

And if you really don't want the job:

"When asked by security to show her ID and sign in, [a candidate] yelled at the security guard and moved briskly to the elevator. After, security called the company informing them of what had occurred, and she was not asked back for the next round."

-- Lavie Margolin, a job search advisor and author of Lion Cub Job Search


7. Stalk the company's employees.

It's one thing to research the company and those you're meeting with before heading in for an interview, but you're crossing a line if you follow up too much, too often. Try to limit communication to only what is necessary by job-seeking standards -- the thank you note, follow-up call to reiterate your interest, and the "I've found another position" letter, if that time comes.

And if you really don't want the job:

"A job-seeker waited by the CEO's car, and when the CEO got in the car, [the candidate] started knocking on the window."

-- Simmons of Netshare


Click here to read the full list of ways to blow a job interview on FINS.com


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