Interview Bloopers

Did you look great on paper but not get that job you wanted? Or have you heard of people who were absolute disasters in an interview?  It’s really important to make the best possible first impression.  I’ll share some examples from my days as an Employment Manager so you can learn from the mistakes of others.

Sadly, these are true stories. Don’t do any of them!

Someone sent me pennies with a resume and said he would have sent more but he was broke and couldn’t, and therefore, I needed to hire him.

Another sent me chocolate with a resume and said she hoped to get an interview and if brought in, would bring more chocolate.

In the middle of an interview, a man seeking an executive level position put his feet up on the table and folded his hands behind his head. 

A colleague interviewing for a chicken processing plant position that involved killing chickens asked an applicant, “why do you want this position”? and he replied by stating, “I like to kill.”

I hope I don’t need to explain why it’s a bad idea to say or do any of the above. Here are some other interview bloopers to keep in mind:

Poor handshake: Your handshake is your first opportunity to create a great impression.

  • The Limp Hand or”dead fish”: May give the impression of disinterest or weakness.
  • The Hand-Crusher/Arm Pump: Sincerity is questionable, much like an overly aggressive salesman.  The hand crusher is a particular pet peeve of mine and always makes me wonder what the person is really trying to accomplish by putting me in severe pain.

Talking too much: Over-talking takes a couple of forms:

  • Taking too long to answer direct questions. This makes the impression that you just can’t get to the point.
  • Nervous talkers. You might make the interviewer feel that you are covering up something or just lying.

Practice answering questions in a direct manner. Avoid nervous talking by preparing for your interview with role-play.

Talking negatively about current or past employers/managers:The fastest way to talk yourself out of a new job is to say negative things about the last one. No matter how reasonable your complaints, you will come out the loser if you show that you disrespect your boss because the interviewer will assume that you would treat him or her similarly.  Be prepared with a positive spin on your experiences.

Showing up late or too early: Always arrive on time, but plan for not more than 10 minutes early.

Treating the receptionist rudely: Since the first person you meet on an interview is usually a receptionist, consider this as the first impression you’ll make. Don’t mistake low rank for low input. The interviewer may solicit the receptionist’s opinion of you after you leave.

Asking about benefits, vacation time or salary: Wait until you’ve won the employer over before beginning that discussion. It shows an interest in the job as well as patience.

Not preparing for the interview: Nothing communicates disinterest like a candidate who hasn’t bothered to do pre-interview research.  Most companies now have websites. Study it.

Nervous habits: A nervous candidate seldom makes a good impression. The first signs of nervousness are verbal ticks such as”umm,” “like,” “you know.”  Or you may fidget in your seat, with your hands, hair, or feet.

Not enough/too much eye contact: Either situation can create a negative effect. Avoid eye contact and you’ll seem shifty, untruthful, or disinterested;too much eye contact, and you’ll wear the interviewer out.

Failure to match communication styles: It’s almost impossible to make a good first impression if you can’t communicate effectively with an interviewer. You can improve by mirroring the way the interviewer communicates with you. Pay attention to tone, speed, and formality.

Remember the old expression, “you only have one chance to make a good first impression.”

By: Rose Opengart, Interviews That Work

© 2018, Rose Opengart, Interviews That Work

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