Which Common Interview Mistakes Snag Candidates Most?

Posted: 07/23/14 | Category: Interviewing

Haven’t interviewed in a while? It’s time to get back on the horse. The scrutiny of an interview is the most nerve-racking part, but if you’ve kept your skills sharpened to a fine-tipped point, then there’s no reason you can’t use these suggestions to ace the interview.

Which Common Mistakes Snag Candidates Most?

Job seekers, both frequent flyers and those who interview once in a blue moon, often fall into the same traps. CareerBuilder conducted a survey with over 2,200 managers and found that candidates make these interview mistakes most often.
55 percent of managers thought candidates appeared disinterested. The solution?

Make regular eye contact – Wandering eyes are impolite. An uninterrupted glare is unsettling. Where’s the sweet spot? In a WJ Online post, an Austin communications analytics company recommended using eye contact 60 to 70 percent of the time to create an emotional connection. That percentage keeps the scales from tipping either way.

Dig deep with your questions – Go beyond superficial questions that have easy-to-find answers on the website (see below). Remember: the best part of the carrot is buried out of sight. Ask about the company’s 5 year plan, your position’s future, and how you can succeed in the role. Any question that probes beyond the norm during your next interview should never be overlooked.

53 percent of managers thought candidates dressed inappropriately. The solution?

Find what’s “á la mode” in the office – The rule of thumb has always been to dress for the job you want. It’s a safe interview mantra. However, you’re always better off asking about the expected office dress code. That way, you’re never underdressed or bedecked over-the-top in a moment when appearances matter most.

Remember it’s not date night – You want to impress a hiring manager? Don’t blind them with gaudy jewelry or blister their nostrils with pungent cologne or perfume. Keep your appearance Spartan (clean, simple, and orderly) and your scent neutral. That way, you shy away from any unwanted scrutiny. 

53 percent of managers thought candidates appeared arrogant. The solution?

Get your interviewer talking – People love anyone who can get them talking with good questions. Want an example? Look no further than Fred Rogers of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. The soft-spoken man taught the art of listening to his adolescent audience and practiced what he preached. Reporters often walked away from interviews having shared more than they learned. His perceptive nature and poignant questions ingratiated him with everyone he met.

Correct others with caution – No one is perfect. Even interviewers make mistakes. However, whether or not to correct their gaffe offers a major quandary. If it’s a test, your silence runs the risk of failure. If it’s a simple slip of the tongue, your correction runs the risk of bruising an interviewer’s ego. Gauge the interviewer’s temperament before you act. Any doubts it’ll go over well and you just need to let the mistake slide rather than stir up problems.

50 percent of managers thought candidates negatively spoke about present & past employers. The solution?

Don’t get too comfortable – You meet your interviewer and there’s instant rapport. An electrical current passes between you and it becomes all too easy to let down your guard. Questions like “why are you leaving your current job?” or “how did you handle conflict in the past?” encourage the most mistakes. It’s tempting to be blunt about present and previous employers, but don’t drop your professional demeanor. Be brief without being too vague and never throw stones.

Be consciously positive – Save your complaints about former employers for later. Now is the time to put your best foot forward. Disparaging comments will make you seem like an anchor of negativity rather than a sail that propels the team forward. 

These aren’t the only interview mistakes with which hiring managers get slammed. If you’re looking for more, click here for the continuation of the Careerbuilder list.

by James Walsh

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