We’ve all experienced it – the sinking feeling that occurs when the job interview that was going oh so well suddenly goes off track.
Maybe it’s the expression on the hiring manager’s face, or the awkward pause that ensues, or the uncontrolled guffaw over what you’ve just said (which wasn’t meant to be a joke) but there’s little doubt when any of that happens, you know Leonardo DiCaprio has a better chance of winning an Oscar than you getting hired.
Fact is, a lot of things you say or do (or don’t say or do) during an interview turn into joke-of-the-day fodder for the human resource (HR) people. So what blunders do HR pros laugh at again and again after every interview process?
You’re about to find out because we’ve picked the brains of a couple of HR folks to track down the yays and nays candidates commit during an interview.
1. Sloppy Dressing
Yes, even in an era of somewhat relaxed corporate dress codes, your interview attire still matters. Because first impressions matter.
HR interviewers always ask amongst themselves: how difficult is it to dress and look appropriate for a brief interview? Very difficult, it seems. Especially for interview noobs/virgins. For instance, the (anonymous) dude who had his fly open and a part of his shirttail poking out of it.
Or the fella who had mismatched socks. Scratch that, the one that really made them HR folks laughed was the guy who had on mismatched shoes AND didn’t wear any socks at all.
Then you have all the guys who came in for the interview with more creases on their shirts than Clint Eastwood’s face. It’s NOT fashionable to appear with your shirts unironed.
Dress code also covers accessories – the less of it, the better (we mean the accessories, not the dress). There was this girl who went for an interview in her blue-tinted contact lens, and the interviewer had trouble holding eye contact with her as one of the lenses kept moving around in one eye (and the lens were BLUE in the first place). Unless you’re auditioning for a spot with a K-pop group, lose the colored contacts (and dyed bleach blond locks).
2. Showing up at the interview with a Red Bull energy drink/iced coffee/water bottle in your hands.
Sure, you’ll need a cup of Joe to buzz you up after a long night of celebration *cough heavy drinking cough* for landing a job interview. But please, don’t bring it in with you into the interview room. Do you expect to switch it to your other hand when the interviewer shakes your hand (assuming you’re right-handed)? And where you gonna place the cup/can/bottle after that? On the interviewer’s desk? LOL. Interviewer be rolling eyes at you… you’re behaving as if it’s your own home.
The only weapon to bring to your interview is your resume or at most, a portfolio of your work. Don’t show up with drinks or snacks, because for one thing, it can be a pain in the ass for the interviewer to watch you slurping away on your favorite beverage or worst, chewing on gum while talking (and no, it doesn’t make you look cool… at all).
3. Showing up late
And giving a lame ass excuse for it. HR dudes are immune to the tired and overused excuse of being stuck in traffic. Some may even laugh in your face for saying that out loud.
So make sure you arrive early for your interview. At least 15-30 minutes early is good. Use the time to properly fill up the application form, do the requisite entrance test, scope out your potential workplace and just get into the interview frame of mind.
4. Giving Silly Answers
This is another common work hazard that interviewers have to live (laugh) through. If you’re unclear of the question being asked, just politely ask the interviewer to repeat it again. And if you still don’t know how to answer said question, then just TELL him/her that you don’t know the answer to that. It’s not the end of the world just because you’re unable to answer one question. It’s better than mouthing off some unintelligible tripe that’s completely off-tangent from the interviewer’s question.
Funnier still was the candidate who wasn’t sure what he was applying for. Needless to say he made a great first impression – just not the right one.
5. Get The Name & Title Right
Unless you’re out to derail your interview on purpose, get the interviewer’s name and title right. If you didn’t catch it the first time during the exchange of pleasantries and introductions, don’t be shy to ask. Don’t be like the candidate who mixed up the names of her two interviewers and kept on referring to them by their ‘new’ names throughout the entire interview.
Don’t fudge the truth, even a little – not in your resume nor during the interview.
Trust us, they will find out. Besides the fact that your interviewer might be an undercover protégé of Dr. Cal Lightman (hint hint: Lie to Me), the HR department will consult every Tom, Dick and Harry from your listed references and perform thorough background checks on you worthy of the CIA’s admiration. And yes, they are also obliged to stalk your Facebook account.
Fibbing shouldn’t be confined to just things in your resume. Take for instance the candidate who arrived for his interview fashionably late. No, he didn’t use the oft quoted excuse in #3.
He claimed that he was late because he got lost finding his way to the office. But the receptionist reported to the hiring manager that she saw this candidate hanging out at the coffee shop across the street during the time period that he ‘got lost’.
Just remember that honesty is ALWAYS the best policy.
No one likes a know-it-all.
While confidence is one thing, you don’t want to go into an interview pretending you can do everything either (like seriously, come on!). Your skillset doesn’t have to match up exactly to every single job requirement so don’t act like there’s nothing you can’t do.
Actions do speak louder than words and if you think you have what it takes to shepherd a flock of sheep, show it! Nut up or shut up, as Woody would say (in Zombieland).
8. Mobile Separation Anxiety
We all live in a hyper-connected society but if ever there’s a time to switch your phone to silent (more than any turn-your-phone-off cinema commercials), it’s during a job interview.
The pesky notifications from your 1001 WhatsApp chat groups coupled with your tone-deaf pop-rap ringtones can be extremely disruptive and will ruin that aura of professionalism you’ve so carefully created.
A HR officer recalls one candidate whose phone just kept on ringing and receiving messages through the entire interview session. In jest, she remarked to her HR colleague that this young candidate/VIP received more calls in that one hour than her own boss does in an entire day.
You know what? On second thought, just switch off your phone.
Congrats again on scoring an interview! Now don’t mess it up by being the butt of HR’s jokes.