Career Advice Opinion

7 Ways to Wreck Your Job Interview

By AAEE — May 28, 2014 3 min read
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I recently came across the article courtesy of Robert Half International, Inc. a global staffing firm and thought it might be useful during this busy interviewing time.

Performing well during the job interview is one of the most important steps in the hiring process. Every candidate wants to impress a prospective employer, but, despite his or her best efforts, not all do. Often, a simple mistake can cause an applicant to blow the entire meeting. Here are some errors to avoid:

1. Arriving late.

Getting to an interview on time or, for that matter, a few minutes early is an easy way to impress a prospective employer. Arriving late is not only unprofessional, it also shows the hiring manager that you have little regard for his or her schedule. It also calls into question your ability to show up to work on time, one of the most basic aspects of any job.

2. Being rude to the receptionist or other staff.

Some candidates don’t think it matters if they’re dismissive of the hiring manager’s assistant when arranging the interview or get upset at the receptionist because he or she mispronounced their name by mistake. After all, this person isn’t the one making the hiring decision. But you may be surprised to learn that six out of 10 employers polled by Robert Half said they consider their assistant’s opinion important when evaluating potential new hires. So remember to be polite and respectful to everyone you interact with during the hiring process.

3. Acting like you’re the only person there.

Consider this scenario: After you’ve checked in for the interview, you make a quick phone call to give your friend a blow-by-blow description of last night’s party, speaking so loudly that everyone in the office can’t help but hear you. That’s the wrong approach. It’s better to sit patiently and peruse any company literature in the lobby. Doing so demonstrates common courtesy and can help you learn more about the firm and its needs.

4. Going into the interview unprepared.

Far too many candidates fail to properly prepare for the interview, believing that they can “wing it” and still make a strong impression. The savviest job seekers spend time considering questions the hiring team will likely ask, so they can answer confidently during the meeting. They also research the employer ahead of time so they can explain how their skills match the open position, and also highlight their true interest in the company and position.

5. Appearing arrogant.

Confidence is key for any applicant to possess, but taking it too far is sure to make you stand out -- for the wrong reasons. Boasting about your abilities (“I was the best worker my previous employer had ever had!”) is a good way to appear arrogant and come across as someone who may have difficulty collaborating with others.

6. Not asking questions.

As the interview winds down, the interviewing team will likely ask if you have any questions. Your answer should be yes. But your questions should go beyond “How much does the position pay?” and “How many days of vacation can I expect?” Although compensation and benefits are important components of any job, broach these subjects only if the prospective employer has expressed serious interest in hiring you -- usually not until the second or third interview. More appropriate questions for a first interview include “What will my specific duties be?” “What are your top priorities for this position?” and “What does a typical day in this position look like?”

7. Not following up.

Even if you feel you aced the interview, it’s not a good idea to simply sit back and wait for the hiring manager to call with an offer. Sending the hiring manager a brief note after the interview allows you to thank him or her for meeting with you, and can emphasize your interest in the position.
Sandra Lindelof
Program Coordinator, Career Services
Central Washington University

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