In a labour market where a single open position can receive resumes from dozens, even hundreds of hopeful applicants, just getting to the interview stage is an accomplishment for many job seekers. But once one lands the elusive interview, what are the sure-fire ways to make the wrong impression?
In a recent CareerBuilder.ca annual survey of more than 600 workers and more than 280 hiring and human resource managers across Canada conducted by Harris Interactive© between November 9 and December 5, 2011, hiring and human resource managers were asked to rate the biggest mistakes candidates make during interviews and share their most unusual interview memories.
Most Harmful Common Mistakes
Hiring managers say the following are the mistakes most detrimental to your interview performance:
- Appearing arrogant: 74 per cent
- Answering cell phone or texting: 73 per cent
- Talking negatively about current or previous employers: 73 per cent
- Appearing disinterested: 71 per cent
- Chewing gum: 64 per cent
- Dressing inappropriately: 59 per cent
Most Unusual Interviews
Hundreds of hiring managers shared their most memorable or unusual interview experiences. Here are some of the highlights:
- Candidate yawned and started to nod off.
- Candidate admitted to being very difficult to work with and stubborn about accepting instruction.
- Candidate arrived late and appeared to come straight from a nightclub.
- Candidate provided a reference but asked that we not contact the person because they wouldn’t say anything good about their work.
- Candidate opened and ate a bag of chips during the interview.
- Candidate talked about his outstanding arrest warrants.
- Candidate said he only applied for the job because his parents made him do it.
- Candidate brought his mother to the interview.
- Candidate discussed not wanting to work very hard.
- Candidate arrived for the interview wearing sweatpants.
- Candidate got up and left during the interview without an explanation.
“It may seem unlikely that candidates would ever answer a cell phone during an interview, or wear shorts, but when we talk to hiring managers, we remarkably hear these stories all of the time,” said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources for CareerBuilder. “However, for most job seekers avoiding a big mistake isn’t the issue – it’s standing out from the crowd. A successful interview is a presentation that marries one’s personality and professional experience to the needs of the hiring manager and the company. Knowing how to do that successfully can be difficult, but with preparation and practice, candidates can greatly improve their interview skills.”
Haefner recommends the following interview tips:
- Do your research: Before the interview, research the company online by looking at their press room for recent company news, the ‘About Us’ section for information about the company culture, and the list of products and services so you are familiar with all they do. Having this knowledge will allow you to easily answer and ask questions during the interview.
- Keep it upbeat: Many job seekers may be experiencing tougher than usual job searches in this economy. During the interview, stay positive, emphasize what you learned from the situation and stay away from bad mouthing previous employers.
- Prepare examples and ideas: Bring your resume to life by practicing specific anecdotes that highlight your accomplishments and how you dealt with challenges in your past roles. Be prepared to share ideas of what you would bring differently to the position. Doing so shows the hiring manager that you are already thinking strategically.
This survey was conducted online within Canada by Harris Interactive© on behalf of CareerBuilder.ca among 697 Canadian workers (employed full-time; not self-employed; non-government) ages 18 and over between November 9 and December 5, 2011 (percentages for some questions are based on a subset, based on their responses to certain questions). With a pure probability sample of 697 one could say with a 95 percent probability that the overall results have a sampling error of +/- 3.71 percentage points. Sampling error for data from sub-samples is higher and varies.