Sick of the present job? Dying to job hop? Ready to pursue another job profile? Eyeing a better salary package? First job? Desperate to get a foot in the door? Have an interview lined up? And you think an impressive resume is enough? Think again. In an interview, a sweaty hand can be your nemesis, an um, a hmmmm can be your downfall, a bad joke can boomerang, too much perfume can stifle your job prospects, spitting venom against ex-boss could be your Waterloo…The list is endless. Here are the BIG do-not-dos at a job interview.
1. Forgot to do the homework:
He thought homework was meant for school children – they needed to run through the basic details before the teacher rapped them on the knuckles. So, the grown-up he, walked into the interview room without picking up the basics of the company – how old the company is, how many offices worldwide, number of employees, what is the core business, the turnover, projects in the offing…He drew a complete blank on the company faqs and went back empty-handed.
2. Bad timing:
He wears an expensive watch, has a GPS in his car, and has an interview scheduled at 9 am the next day. But calibrating driving time from point A to B is not his habit, he hazards a guess. Oh! 10 kilometres from home to the company’s office, he mulls, I can do it in 20 minutes. He left home at 8,30 am, got stuck in peak hour traffic and arrived 20 minutes late.
And then there was gentleman who set the timer so early that when he reached the office, the security guard had not even pushed the key into the padlock. Too early is also bad timing, the gentleman knew not.
3. Went in wired:
With the Bluetooth device perched on his ear, the cellphone on Ring mode and the iPod humming, he resembled Dr Spock all prepped to get beamed to another planet. He probably assumed that the world would crumble if he missed one call. The world lived on, but his job chances certainly died.
4. That crumpled shirt!:
His resume was impressive, his work experience gave him an edge, he spoke well, knew the tricks of the trade, but it was his crumpled shirt that first got noticed. His shoes were muddy, his hair unkempt, his nails chipped. Only if he had heard of grooming and hygiene, the job would have been his.
5. Smelt like a perfume/cigarette store:
She loves the scent of lemon and the whiff of new-mown hay. He often smells like a chimney, for he smokes like one. On the day of the interview, she emptied an entire bottle of perfume on her business suit. When she walked into the interview room, it felt as if the perfume shop itself had walked in! She overdid the perfume part, he carried the whiff of smoked chimney to the interview. Fragrance/whiff killed their job prospects.
6. Fumbled, mumbled, faltered:
He knocked and stepped into the interview room. So far, so good. But he closed the door with such a bang that it rattled the interview board. If that was not bad enough, he mumbled a Good Morning as if his throat was sore and then faltered with every answer. Getting nervous is not Sin, but, remember, no one loves a nervous employee. Confidence was is in short supply for this job-seeker. Before the interview, he did not opt for mock interviews or practicing answers in front of a mirror.
7. The Monosyllablic man:
Yes. No. Maybe. Almost. That is all the interview board got for an answer. The man who only spoke in monosyllables did not offer any explanation to why he is perfect for the job, what his expectations are, what gives him an edge over others…. He also sat on the chair like a coy bride without making any eye contact with the interviewer. The board certainly does not expect a treatise as an answer to every question, but monosyllabic brevity is definitely not the soul of an interview.
8. The man who went on and on and on:
“So, why should we hire you?” That was the first question thrown to the one who had applied for the job of a marketing manager in a steel factory. “Because I am the best. I was the sprint champion in school. I played football in college. I was a regular in the debating team. I can play the harmonium. In my previous job, I sold soaps….” He went on and on and on talking about his life as if he were reading aloud his autobiography. What he missed was a succinct answer to “Why should we hire you?” Of course, the rambler was not hired; he went on and on and on looking for another job.
9. Um, hmmmm, I guess, you know:
He was wont to intersperse his sentences with an um, hmmmm, I guess, You know. In an everyday conversation, no one really paid heed to such repetitive pauses. But during an interview monosyllables and rambling are not the only follies, too much of um, hmmm, I guess, You know can kill your job prospects.
10. Sissy/wrestler’s handshake:
In an interview, after the Good Mornings, there invariably comes the handshake. He was nervous, his hand was laden with sweat and his handshake absolutely limp. That certainly did not impress the interview board chairman. And then there was the job seeker whose handshake was that of a wrestler, he almost cracked a bone on the chairman’s hand. Both the job seekers knew not that a firm handshake can start the interview on a firm note. No, handshakes are not the decisive factor in a job interview, but a good handshake can sure muster some brownie points for you.
11. The joke that boomeranged:
“Tell us about your strengths and weaknesses”. Mid-way through an interview, a job seeker was asked to elaborate. “That reminds me of a funny incident, a joke about the man who thought his strength lay in counting how many feathers there are in a bird …” the smart Alec began smugly. The smart Alec forgot he is here for an interview and not in a pub sharing jokes and expecting guffaws from friends. Being witty is well appreciated, but unwarranted humour and bad jokes are big no-no in an interview.
12. Facts that went fuzzy:
On his resume, he fudged facts about education and work experience; he thought he was being smart by padding up the experience details. Dishonesty never works, truth always shows up. But not only did this gentleman lie on his resume, he even forgot to learn by rote his lies. At the interview, when asked to detail the job experience, he forgot all about the fudged facts. Fuzzy facts, sure, could not get him a job.
13. Spitting venom against ex-boss:
He whined about the travails of his previous job; he spewed venom against his ex-boss; he bad-mouthed his former colleagues. The job-seeker hated his last job and was desperate to get out. He, however, forgot that in an interview, bad-mouthing brings big negative points. No one loves a whiner; no one wants to hire the one who bad-mouths.
14. Talking money a little too soon:
“What makes you think you are perfect for the job?” the interview board asked a job seeker. “Because I am good at it. But can we talk money first,” the job seeker responded in a hurry. Well, jobs are always about the remuneration aslo, but this gentleman was curious about the salary package much before the job profile and employer’s expectations were discussed. He knew not that it is the employer’s prerogative to raise the topic first.
Preeti Verma Lal
Visual Courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/usfbps/