Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Outrageous Interview Mistakes that Include Lessons for Everyone - Part 1

It is always fun to hear the stories of the outrageous and downright bizarre behavior that interviewers experience. We laugh at those mistakes and say, "I would never behave that way in an interview." However, each of us make our own mistakes, of varying degrees of severity in interviews. Let's look at a few of the most outrageous stories I have heard or experienced, and see what we can learn from others' mistakes.

Mistake: I was once told a story by an HR person of an interviewee who answered their cell phone during the interview and proceeded to get in a fight with the person on the phone - in the middle of the interview! When the conversation was over, instead of apologizing and returning to the interview, they placed a call to someone else and began to tell them the story of the fight. The HR person explained that at that point they simply escorted them out of their office as they were still talking on the phone.

Lesson: Let's face it, many of us are addicted to our cell phones, laptops, and tablets. Any free time is spent surfing the internet, playing games, or updating our Facebook status. Never take out your electronic device and start using it - even when waiting in the lobby to be called back for the interview. Instead, use this time to review your notes and mentally prepare for the upcoming interview. Your cell phone should be turned off, or better yet left in the car, during the interview. Even if it is on vibrate, it can still be heard when it rings.

Mistake: A male candidate I was interviewing showed up for the interview wearing chipped black nail polish, wearing rumpled clothing that looked as though he slept in it, and reeking of alcohol.

Lesson: Keep in mind that 93% of our communication with the world around us is non-verbal. Your image should send a clear message of professionalism and competence. People form a first impression in the first 7 seconds they meet you and this is largely based on visual appearance. Make a solid first impression by paying attention to the details of your clothing, grooming, and body language. Get a good night's sleep before your interview and avoid alcohol the night before.

Mistake: When I asked a candidate "Why should I hire you?" their answer was "Because I need a job." They went on to talk about how they were going through a divorce and were behind on all their utilities, rent, and credit card payments.

Lesson: Companies are looking to hire the most cost-effective person as opposed to the person who NEEDS the job the most. When an employer is interviewing you for an job, they want to feel as though you have chosen to work for their company, not as though you are simply looking for a job - any job. Do your research and try to find the motivation behind why the company is hiring; find out what problems or needs they may have. Clearly identify the value you can bring to the company in terms of what benefits you can achieve for the organization. Remember, instead of focusing on your needs, talk about the value you can bring to the company.

Check back on Thursday for more interview mistakes and lessons!

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