8 Worst Job Interview Screw – Ups to Avoid


A senior level operations manager was interviewing for a job where he would have responsibility for over fifty retail outlets. During the course of the second interview, the candidate becomes relaxed, as he discusses the day-to-day duties, which includes personally making deposits for some of the units, if he should he be hired. To Illustrate his responsibility over protecting cash profits, the job candidate pulls out a hunting knife from a sheath that was hidden under his shirt, and quickly slashes the knife through the air, for effect. He explains he carries that knife only in case of emergencies. As you might imagine, the fellow didn’t get the job.

I have personally seen job candidates pull knives in job interviews, but also, I’ve seen them drop their pants – oh yes, it happened – to show a scar on the upper thigh; one lady daringly exposed a breast during a job interview, to prove she was not lactating, as there was a question about how she might handle daycare for her newborn child; and in one amazing instance, a cross-dressing pharmacist arrives at his second job interview attired in female clothing, and using the feminine version of his name.

In my opinion, these are examples of job interview screw-ups. Too often, job candidates regard their personal behavior at home or at leisure activity as appropriate for the workplace. Too often, they are wrong. And when those misunderstandings of appropriateness collide with the often strict, conservative environments that most employers seek as standards in their hiring process, guess who it is that gets left out? Of course, it’s the job candidates.

Below is a list of the sort of unappreciated behaviors that job interviewers prefer not to see in a job interview. Check the list to see if you may be one of the job seekers perpetrating such activities that may slow or even derail your employment.

SMOKING CIGARETTES – many people still feel the need to ‘light up’ to help settle their nerves prior to a job interview. The smell lingers on clothes, on breath, and hair, and as a consequence carries right into the job interview.

POOR EYE CONTACT – failing to offer confident, inquisitive eye contact with the job interviewer suggests you may not be truthful, or that you are hiding something. Don’t look down at the floor when a question is asked.

POOR POSTURE – half-sitting in a chair, slouching, leaning to far up or back or to the side of a chair suggests to some interviewers that you don’t really want to be there. Sit up straight and pay attention to the person taking.

CELL PHONES – have ended too many job interviews, in my opinion. Some job candidates actually take calls during a job interview. Sure, they apologize to the interviewer, but so what! Of course they say the call is important – but, more important than the job you seek? Same for text messaging, which many college grad job candidates assume is a regular part of the business day, so take or check text messages during a job interview; best to just stay home and take those calls and messages.

FATIGUE – job search is a full time job for most, so many job candidates arrive to a interview weary from a busy schedule. Don’t do it. I’ve had applicants escorted out of job interviews when they began resting their head upon their hands, or leaning tired-like in their chairs, or yawning consistently during an exchange of questions.

POOR PREPARATION – has derailed more job interviews than I care to ponder. Anticipate what topics will be discussed, and prepare answers in advance. Or just stay home.

FAKE FRIENDLINESS – is not the same as good manners and politeness. Don’t ‘play up’ to the interviewer trying to befriend them in the short time you have during a job interview. They read through those strategies very quickly. Remain professional.

GUM CHEWING – or sucking on candy, soft drinks, or any sort of food or mouth occupied activity distracts the job interviewer from your skills and experience.

There are many other distractions that can interfere with the smooth success that your next job interview may achieve. Don’t make things harder on yourself by introducing negative elements. Organize your interview strategies in advance. Practice how you describe your skills and experience to a job interviewer. Consider these observations, and you may find the job you seek with less effort and heartache than you might expect.


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