THE BLOG

Five Common Job Interview Blunders You Don't Want to Make

21/01/2015 11:27 GMT | Updated 22/03/2015 09:59 GMT

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Credit: Image sourced from opencolleges.edu.au

Would you ever bring your dog to a job interview or use Google to find the answer to a tricky question? Or perhaps you like to practice your yoga poses to stay relaxed during interviews?

In a recent survey by jobsite CareerBuilder, employers shared some of the most unusual mistakes candidates had made during an interview, and believe it or not, the above examples actually happened.

An earlier survey also highlighted some of the most common mistakes employers see when interviewing potential candidates, and even though you probably know better than to pull out your phone mid-interview, there's a good chance you're making one or more of these common interview blunders.

To help you avoid them, leading career management consultant Rosemary Guzman Hook has shared her insights on preparing for an interview, using the right body language, and being honest without over-sharing.

Mistake #1: Being unprepared

It might seem like a tiresome cliché, but it's as true as it ever was - too many applicants still show up to job interviews without having done the necessary research.

According to the CareerBuilder survey, 39% of employers say applicants are often uninformed about the company or role, and more than 30% say applicants fail to provide specific examples or ask good questions.

These are all problems that can be avoided with a little extra prep in advance of the interview, so why do so many job seekers still make these errors?

"The biggest problem for candidates is that they believe they'll remember how to respond to interview questions so they don't bother practicing," says Hook.

"To be truly prepared, candidates need to type out their responses and examples of their great work and then verbally practice saying these out loud."

She adds that preparing a few questions of your own is just as important as answering the interviewer's questions well.

"The questions you ask of the interviewer should be as specific to the job description and the team as the examples you give of your work."

Mistake #2: Not paying attention to body language

Of the employers who were asked to share the worst body language mistakes candidates make, 70% cited failure to make eye contact, 44% cited failure to smile, and 35% cited bad posture or fidgeting too much in one's seat.

Obviously, these problems usually stem from feeling nervous, which is common during job interviews, but this doesn't mean you can't improve on this point. Eye contact is important, but don't make things awkward by holding your gaze for too long.

"Make eye contact but don't stare, it's not a contest of the eyeballs," Hook advises.

"If the interviewer is a starer, then occasionally look down as you take notes. And always sit up straight. Even if the interviewer is slouched in their chair, you must be alert and at attention in your chair."

If you're not sure how you come across during interviews, you might consider having a friend conduct a mock interview and recording it. While this may not catch the nervous behaviour displayed during real interviews (like fidgeting) it can help you practice being more approachable and using good posture.

Mistake #3: Not dressing the part

Dressing inappropriately is one of the top job interview mistakes candidates make according to 53% of the employers surveyed.

"Business casual is a common phrase especially for those working in Fortune 500 companies," notes Hook.

"However it does not mean you dress like you're going to meet a friend for a drink. Inability to use good judgment in something as simple as how to dress will leave an interviewer wondering what else about your judgment is lacking."

Do some research beforehand to find out what the company culture is like. And remember, if you aren't sure, you can always try to contact someone within the company to get more information about the dress code - it's better to ask than to get it wrong.

Mistake #4: Sharing too much information

"Over sharing" is another common mistake according to the CareerBuilder survey. 50% of employers said speaking negatively about previous employers was a detrimental mistake that interviewees often make, while 20% said that providing too much personal information was a common problem.

"In interviewing, we must always tell the truth but it doesn't have to be the god-awful truth," cautions Hook.

She shares the following example of information that might be considered "too personal" by interviewers.

"A woman I know recently went through a series of interviews with a top company. She had spent the previous year taking care of her husband through a terminal illness, his dying, and then her grieving.

We practiced over and over and over again how she would respond to the break in her work history without ever mentioning the death of her husband. Although the subject was comfortable for her to talk about, death is not a subject the majority of the public is comfortable. Plus, it had nothing to do with her ability to do the job."

The main takeaway here is that even if you feel perfectly comfortable talking about something, you have to consider that it might make your interviewer feel uncomfortable, which is never a good thing.

Avoid sharing overly personal information about kids, relationships or previous employers, unless of course you think it is relevant to the job.

Mistake #5: Not showing sufficient interest or appearing arrogant

There's a fine line between confidence and arrogance, and according to 53% of employers one of the most detrimental mistakes a candidate can make is appearing arrogant.

Hook points out that one way job seekers might come across as arrogant without even realising it is by saying things like "I'd be perfect for this job."

"You can't possibly know if you'd be perfect for that job or company if you've never worked in that job or for that company. It assumes all jobs with a particular title are the same," she explains.

"Companies and their hiring managers want you to acknowledge their uniqueness not their sameness."

Another problem, according to 55% of employers, is candidates appearing disinterested, and once again, this comes down to being well-prepared.

There is no better way to demonstrate your interest in working for a company than to research what they do and prepare some specific questions about the job and team you'll be working with.