8 Ways to Blow a Job Interview
8 easy ways to screw it up.
I don’t have to tell you that job interviews are nerve-wracking, as your fate largely lies on the discretion of another person. Know that you’re not alone, as even the most seasoned of communicators still break a sweat. The smartest and most confident of women still make job interview blunders that can range from idiotic to downright pathetic (!)
In an interview, your employment value is only as good as what is on your resume. The interviewer doesn’t know your personal background, your amazing journey to being who you are now, and how many of life’s trials you’ve overcome. On first contact, you’re judged by what is seen (by how you look) and then by what is heard (by how you speak).
Here are some of the most embarrassing job interview mistakes women have actually made.
1. “Sorry I’m late. My car broke down on the way here and blah, blah, blah.”
The interviewer had already listed you as late even before you broke an excuse. Late is late in any language, and no matter how true or valid your reasons may be, you still did not come on time. There is a lot at stake on your first encounter and being late can sound off the alarm that you are not reliable. So, the next time you’re called in for an interview, always assume that you’re going to hit heavy traffic before you leave home. That way, even if you’re an hour early, you’re not late.
2. “I’ve been wanting to work here for as long as I could remember. It’s my dream!”
At first you may think this will flatter the interviewer, but you’re gunning for a professional slot in the company so best to act professional. Gushing won’t make you any more competent than the applicant before you, although it wouldn’t hurt if you express in a less informal manner that you look forward to growing with the company and contributing to its growth. Certain interviews look for fiery passion from their applicants, but unless you’re applying to be part of the cast of an afternoon soap, don’t be too eager.
3. “So how much are you offering for the job?”
Although this is the primary or possibly only thing in your mind when you head off to the interview, etiquette dictates that you wait for the interviewer to bring the subject up before discussing your salary. Trust us, your paycheck is part of the interviewer’s list of must-discuss topics and will most likely be brought up toward the end of the interview. If it’s not and you’re told they’ll call you without mentioning a second interview, don’t raise your hopes up — it’s not likely you got the job.
4. “I left my old job because my boss was horrible.”
Never speak ill about your old boss. That will tell your interviewer a lot about your work ethic and professionalism. If your boss was, indeed, the worst in the world, you can downplay the incident by perhaps saying “I’m looking to grow with a company that will best bring out my talents.” Of course, when you say that, make sure you have a follow through on what your talents are. If the interviewer has some idea of the conflict you had with your previous employer, the most professional way to deal with it is to say something like “While we did not agree on certain things, we both felt the best way to resolve it was to part amicably.” That way, you did not deny the conflict but did not say anything bad either.
5. “Hi, sorry, I have to take this call.”
NEVER take a call or answer a text message while on the interview. Not only will you appear disorganized, your commitment to getting the job may also be questioned. Better yet, turn your phone off before you enter the room so you don’t need to be bothered by anything. You can certainly deal with the caller after your interview, which will more or less last only 15 to 30 minutes. Whatever it is, it can wait.
6. Never under-sell yourself.
Most female applicants have a tendency to downplay their previous roles, trying not to sound arrogant and all-knowing. Interviewers are allergic to grandstanding applicants, but selling yourself short will also only make you look insecure and poorly driven. In this bleak times, employers are looking for people who can help boost their company to success and an applicant who cannot even be accountable for her own positive traits and accomplishments is not who they want.
7. Dress appropriately.
The biggest problem interviewers find with women applicants is their inappropriate manner of dress. While it’s all right to wear skirts to the interview, make sure they are of professional length and you’re wearing stockings with them. If you don’t have an office suit, a simple black blouse, slacks and low heels will do nicely. Stilettos are an overstatement, even if you’re applying to be an intern at a fashion house. In short, don’t make your potential employer think you spend more time in the mirror and fussing over yourself than doing actual work.
8. “I have always been interested in the stock market. I remember when I was four years old…”
Don’t talk too much. Experts in the human resources circuit say that 60 per cent of the time, it should be the interviewer who’s doing the talking. Telling too much of your life story will make you look chatty, which most interviewers do not like. They are not interested in your personal life and how fun it was growing up. What they want to hear are answers to their questions — direct, concise and well-worded answers. There’s a line of applicants after you, and there isn’t any tea and biscuits served on the table.
You are the best judge of yourself and the only one who can create a desired impression. While diving into your first interview scares your wits away, you must remember why you are there in the first place — to land a job. The interviewer does not know much about you, but that doesn’t mean you have the license to tell a story about your unfolding. Focus on the job and focus on the moment. Out of the 1,000 resumes the company gets every month, they chose you to show their faces to, so that certainly counts for something.
Happy job hunting!