I was watching The Today Show a couple of weeks ago and they were talking about common interview mistakes. They were citing a USA Today poll. Though I couldn't find the entire poll, here are the items they highlighted as most often encountered by employers when interviewing recent college graduates:
- Dressing inappropriately (50%)
- Being late for interview or arriving on the wrong day (44%)
- Being overly aggressive about job expectations (36%)
- Lack of eye contact (33%)
- Checking phone/texting (30%)
Being late is a no-no. You should always arrive a little early (allow plenty of time to find the location if you've not been there before). Arriving on the wrong day? That seems like a deal breaker. Remember that your first impression includes your attention to detail. Arriving on the wrong day is missing an important detail.
The last one on the list is probably the most surprising and would likely be a deal-breaker for most employers. Turn your cell phone off, or put it on silent, and put it away long enough to give your full attention to your potential employer. I understand the dependency on smartphones (if I don't have an appointment in my calendar, I don't make it). At the same time, there are occasions when you should put it away and give your full attention to someone or something. Trying to land the job you have your heart set on would be one of those times.
After seeing this piece on The Today Show, I started searching for interview blunders and missteps. It was interesting what came up. I didn't find the USA Today poll they were citing, but I did find a similar article, "Managers to Millenials: Job Interview No Time to Text." The biggest reason job candidates failed their interviews was due to taking phone calls or texting during the interview. If you can't resist the urge to answer a call or text, leave your phone in your car during your interview. Taking that call from a friend just checking in to see what's going on isn't worth losing a job.
Another problem highlighted was helicopter parents. If you haven't heard of the term, helicopter parents hover over their children constantly to monitor and step in when they feel the need. Taking a parent to an interview or asking them to speak to a potential employer to negotiate salary and benefits is not a good idea. Employers are looking for strong independent thinkers and problem solvers. Arriving with your parents doesn't give that impression.
One of the most bizarre interview errors I saw was bringing your pet to the interview. Even if interviewing for a position where you will be working with animals, it seems like this would not be a good idea unless the interviewer requested it for some reason.
Forbes Magazine also points out "Top 5 Interview Mistakes Millennials Make." Again, the top of the list is inappropriate attire. Also noted is inappropriate content posted to social media sites. Yes, potential employers will look for you on social media and they will draw conclusions about your character based on your online presence. Big no-no's...inappropriate or explicit photos, profanity, and poor grammar and spelling.
A couple of other notes from that article are not doing research on the company/position and not asking enough questions. These should go hand-in-hand. Research the company, who they are, where they started, as much about the culture as you can find, and the responsibilities and expectations for the job opening. In doing the research, there should be some questions that come up that can be asked without resorting to questions about salary, benefits, and topics that will not be addressed until an offer is made. Have good, smart questions ready when you go into an interview so that you appear as interested in the position.
The most amusing article I found was on careerbuilder.com, "Top 10 Unbelievable Interview Blunders." These stories come from human resources professionals who interview job candidates all over the country. These are jaw-dropping.
- Candidate answered call phone and asked the interviewer to leave her own office because it was a "private" conversation.
- Candidate told the interview he was fired for beating up his last boss.
- Candidate for an accounting position stated she was a "people person" not a "numbers person."
- Candidate flushed the toilet while talking to the interviewer during a phone interview.