Sure you want to stand out from a crowd of job applicants, but arriving for an interview in your pyjamas or with a bird perched on your shoulder will get your remembered for all the wrong reasons, career experts warn on a new website.
Even small mistakes during the job interview can cause professionals to miss out on opportunities. To help applicants put their best foot forward, staffing service Robert Half launched a website (www.roberthalf.com/dont-let-this-happen-to-you) with light-hearted videos depicting interviews that have gone awry, along with tips for avoiding common blunders.
Here are some of the more memorable clangers that managers in Canada and the United States have cited in surveys Robert Half has done in recent years:
A job applicant went to an interview with a cockatoo on his shoulder.
A candidate sent his sister to interview in his place because he thought she'd give better answers.
One candidate sang all of her responses to interview questions.
When asked by the hiring manager if he had any questions for him, the candidate replied by telling a knock-knock joke.
One candidate, apparently keen to show his determination, handcuffed himself to the desk during the interview.
"Although there are various examples of interview blunders – making extreme mistakes such as the ones outlined above, will ensure you're remembered – but for the wrong reasons," explained Mike Gooley, regional vice-president of Robert Half in Canada. "Job candidates should be aware that most employers aren't only assessing their qualifications but also are looking for people who express great enthusiasm and convey a confident, positive attitude."
People skills – or lack thereof – got the following job seekers into trouble:
"When asked by the hiring manager why she was leaving her current job, the applicant said, 'My manager is a jerk. All managers are jerks.'"
"I interviewed someone who had a jawbreaker in her mouth during the entire interview."
Putting the cart before the horse by issuing demands about salary, benefits or perks is an unwise move. These applicants should have focused on the employer's needs:
"One individual said we had nice benefits, which was good because he was going to need to take a lot of leave in the next year."
"The applicant told me he really was not interested in the position, but he liked that we allowed for a lot of time off."
Hiring managers appreciate authenticity, but common sense should prevail. These job hopefuls were a bit too candid:
"An individual applied for a customer service job, and when asked what he might not like about the job, he said, 'Dealing with people.'"
"The candidate said she would really prefer a job offer from our competitor."
If nothing else, employers expect interviewees to dress professionally. While the right attire alone won't seal the deal, the wrong outfit can sink your chances. Here are a few examples of what not to wear:
"An applicant wore the uniform from his former employer."
"The candidate arrived in a cat suit."
"A person came to the interview in pyjamas with slippers."
Finally, exhibiting dishonesty is the ultimate interview error. One hiring manager recounted that after complimenting a job applicant on his choice of college and his grades, "the candidate replied, 'I'm glad that got your attention. I didn't really go there.'"
What not to do: Common interview mistakes
Going on and on and on
Don't give one-word responses, but don't ramble. Be thorough, yet succinct. Don't over-answer or attempt to fill dead air between questions.
Slouching, constantly shifting in your chair, crossing your arms or wearing a tense expression can signal nervousness or disinterest.
Ranting and raving
Don't criticize former employers; it just makes you look bad. Even a mildly sarcastic quip can raise red flags for the interviewer. Be tactful and diplomatic.
Throwing in the towel
If you fumble a response, or think the interview is going poorly, maintain your composure and move on. Don't act dejected. Showing that you can swiftly recover after a setback can work in your favour.
Source: Robert Half International