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April 05, 2010

5 Interview Blunders to Avoid

Supposedly the job market begins its journey back based on recent government statistics. As always, it becomes not what the US Department of Labor may say it's often about how the job search goes for you or a close friend or family member. Those seem to be the statistics that matter the most to those we serve. 

Now that the market in a lot of areas seems to be on some kind of rebound, what happens when you do get that hard to get interview? Moreover, how could you screw it up? Let me count the ways. Small blunders and large blunders can do you in but here is a primer on some small things that could hurt you. This bottom line is pay attention to every seemingly small detail. 

1. Silence the Buzz

Unless you are into some cell phone company or software ring tone company interview you probably need to turn your phone complete off or leave it in the car. Putting it on "buzz" bothers a lot of interviewers. In fact, several recruiters have commented to me that it irritates them to watch someone chat on the phone just minutes before their in person interview. A quick text while you are waiting may underscore your umbilical like attachment to electronics but in today's world, you look like a distracted driver of your own interview. 

2. Everybody is an Interviewer

This brings us to another seemingly common sense Don't. Every move you make and everything you say is in some way being recorded in the waiting room of your interview. Personal grooming, texting, talking and any kind of off-putting input to the receptionist or executive assistant will potentially be registered and recorded from their point of view to the interviewer. Many executive recruiters have told me one of the most important impressions you can make on an interviewer often occurs after the interview when they ask the receptionist or administrative assistant this: What did you think of x? If the reply is Well, he didn't impress me in any way you may have lost it right there before the actual interview. 

3. Rambling is a Weakness

Another way to blow a hard earned interview is to ramble. You need to get your answers to interview questions to strong, sound bite level. That does not mean that you answer a tough behavioral interview question with a short, stock answer. You need to practice your answers. Be firm in the details surrounding your answers. But you don't need to ramble. One jobseeker recently told me: The interview went well right up to the end where the interviewer asked me about a specific software product. I went on and on trying to cover my lack of knowledge about the product. I talked about other software that I knew and that it was a similar product. When he quietly disagreed I kept going and going. Succinct, potent and powerful answers matter. Sometimes acknowledging a weakness and how you might work on a weakness is a sign of strength. Overdoing an answer can overwhelm and upset the balance of a good interview. 

Here are a couple more bonus blunders. 

4. Stop Smoking. 

I still can hardly believe anybody smokes cigarettes or thinks that smoking can be covered up. Some interviewers are ultra-smell conscious and notice anything remotely related to smoke on your person. If you smoke you need to consider being clean for most interviews for days before the interview. Unless you are in the company of a smoker or interviewing for some tobacco oriented job you might want to stay clean. 

5. Dress Like a Fan (Not a Crazy Fan)

Another bonus blunder that seems like a common sense mistake is dress. Let's not just focus on dress but color. I almost don't want to cover this because it seems like it should be understood. But I have seen many people go into interviews without studying the look, culture and color pattern of a company's website. You do not necessarily have to dress in company colors but you should know what you are doing there. Look at companies within the industry. Every company is like a sports team. They have carefully chosen their colors. Would you wear the colors of Nebraska to a Missouri coaching interview position? It's the same with companies. You are communicating your brand at all times and in everything that you say or do. 

Posted at 2:05 PM in

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