By Gail Kasper, Author, Television Host, Certified Fitness Trainer, and Motivational Speaker
So, you’re on your way to yet another interview. Already, you’re tired of answering the same clichéd questions, of trying to impress someone you’re not even sure you’d like to work for, when you don’t even know what it is they exactly do or what the job fully entails. But you need a better job and you figure you have to go through the usual routine of one boring interview after another. It’s what you have to do to get hired, right?
Let’s face it, most people do not like the whole interview process as being a means of determining whether a person is suitable for a work position or not. Many people absolutely dread it, some likening the interview process to being on a stage, having to perform. Indeed, many will react with symptoms very similar to stage fright; an inability to think clearly, their nervous system seizing up their major muscle groups, the unfortunate consequences of which are to make you appear as if you were an idiot in front of strangers.
Like it or not, the interview process is the reality you have to deal with. On the other end is the job you really want to get. Want to make sure you don’t get the job? Here are:
Ten Surefire Ways to Fail your Interview
1. Have a bad attitude: It goes without saying that no one wants to hire someone that appears to be blasé, indifferent - or worse, negative. Yet, that’s how many job applicants come across to interviewers time and time again. Even if you dismiss that you may be displaying any of these traits, think again. Check your attitudes – do you secretly believe this whole interview process is a waste of your time? Do you secretly question whether this is the job for you or this is the company you’d truly like to work for? What you hold secret to yourself - your thoughts, feelings and beliefs – have a way of working themselves to the surface. They are visible in your posture, your tone of voice, and your facial expressions. You may think you look cool, calm and collected but to a skilled observer of human nature, you may be as easy to read as an open book. To avoid being stereotyped in this fashion, when you are greeted by your interviewer, make sure you smile and share a genuine “Hello,” speak positively in the interview about the company, and end on an upbeat note whether you are interested in the position, or not.
2. Be unprofessional: Quite simply, the business world has a particular etiquette. If you do not follow this particular etiquette you risk coming off as being unprofessional or worse some kind of rebel or renegade. Certain industries or vertical business structures may share a more distinct etiquette which behooves you to be sensitive to. A hip, West Coast ad agency has a different vibe than say an East Coast Law Firm. Appreciate the subtleties and be respectful to whatever work practices and overall ethos the company you are about to interview for may hold for themselves. Even if it appears that every day is casual Friday and the employees don’t seem to have to clock in each morning, don’t come to the interview tardy and attired in jeans and a T shirt. Nor should you chew gum or bring in your half finished soda. If in doubt, err on the side of conservatism. Regardless of the position, a suit is always appropriate, and will impress at the highest level, when being considered for front-line jobs.
3. Be late: This is just about every interviewer’s number one pet peeve and is perhaps so obvious that it doesn’t bear mentioning. However, it can’t be stressed enough. It’s very hard, if not impossible to overcome this definite black mark on your short record to date. We all know the importance of first impressions. Give yourself more than enough time to get there. Most likely the interview site is in a location that you’ve never visited before. Even though you’ve mapped it out and/or you’re following the directions on your GPS, always allow yourself extra time to get to the destination. What if you’ve tried your best but, against all odds, you’re going to be late? Call ahead and let them know. It may seem like a no brainer but it’s surprising the number of people who fear that calling the interviewer will reflect badly upon their professionalism. On the contrary, calling with a problem displays your courteousness and respect. If you were expecting someone and they were going to be late, wouldn’t you like to know ahead of time? My theory, which has been proven on many occasions, is that those who are late and do not call demonstrate repeated irresponsibility on the job. Don’t do it!
4. Stress too much: It’s very easy to become overwhelmed with the stress of interviewing. It’s been constantly drummed into your brain how crucial the interview process is: the importance of first impressions, the do’s and the don’ts of what and what not to say and do. Despite it all, it’s imperative that you remain calm and in control of yourself. Nervousness has a distinct way of expressing itself for most people. Some people may giggle inappropriately; others may talk too much or fidget uneasily in their seat. Whatever technique you may utilize to calm yourself in stressful situations, now would be a good time to use it. Whether it’s taking a few deep breaths or going to your quiet place within, the more relaxed you feel, the better prepared you are to present yourself at your very best. Nervousness can be contagious. The more relaxed you feel, the more you help make the interviewer(s) also feel at ease. If you feel that your nervousness is showing, and perhaps taking away from your interview, it is okay to share that with the interviewer. They may not realize that this is the case and chalk it up to “You’re not the right candidate.”
5.Try too hard: Okay, so you really, really want this job. Don’t blow your chances by being overzealous and behaving way over the top. I had one candidate who was so jumpy, she would not leave the interview and it detracted from her value. Think before you answer any question, even if you already have a prepared answer. Pausing before each answer shows that you are thoughtful and respectful of the interviewer’s thought process. Your brief silence is almost like saying, “Good question, let me think about that for a moment.” So, what if you’ve been asked that question a hundred times before?
6. Come unprepared: For most people interviewing is not brain surgery. It’s really quite a simple process. Those interviewing you want to know if you’re a good fit for the position and their company. They have questions for you that they want answered, you’re satisfying them with your thoughtful answers. This is most likely not the first interview you’ve ever been on, perhaps at this stage, you’ve lost count. What questions are they going to ask you? Indeed, what questions can they possibly ask you that you cannot answer? Assuming you’ve been vetted and selected as a qualified candidate, you should all speak the same language whether the position is for an accountant or a TV weather forecaster. You know they’re going to ask you questions all about you – your qualifications, experience, education and previous work experience. Not a problem. However, what you may not be able to answer are questions about the employer and the business they are in. Do your homework. Learn as much about their business as you possibly can. In this age of the internet, there’s no excuse why you should not. The interview is not the place to ask, “And what is it you do here, exactly?”
7. Lie your socks off: When does an embellishment become a lie? It’s come to the point that some interviewers now assume that a large percentage of resumes are so embellished they verge on out and out lies. It may start with fudging some dates here and there, talking up your previous work responsibilities and so on. However, once it progresses to made up employment positions or duties, concocted training and education degrees and certificates… well, just don’t do it. Most employers will check everything on your resume for accuracy. Even if they don’t and you do get the job, how long can it be before the lies catch up with you? One person I know actually started the job, and when they found false information on his resume he was quietly escorted out. Are you willing to risk your career and reputation just to make yourself look good at an interview? Be accurate and truthful. Who knows, you may yet blow their socks off having singled yourself out as being the only applicant adhering to qualities of honesty and integrity.
8. Be negative: One of the main reasons most people look for another job opportunity is because their current or previous one has negative attributes, the boss is a jerk, the money sucks, and you hate the commute, and so on. When asked about the reasons for your move, be diplomatic. Do not get angry when talking about current or former bosses and workmates. The interviewers want to see if you’re a team player, a person with social skills and graces that can comfortably fit into their work environment. By all means state the negatives but be reasoned and reasonable about them. Convey them in the light of challenges you’ve met and overcome or choose not even to deal with. You might say something like, “I was looking for more of a challenge” or “I had anticipated that the position would go in a different direction.” Just don’t get all hot and bothered.
9. Appear indifferent: With two people of similar background and experience, an employer is most likely to give the position to the person showing the most interest, excitement and enthusiasm for the job. Appear interested in what they are saying. Express your excitement without overdoing it. Ask relevant questions. An interviewer can tell a lot about your interest for the position by the questions you ask. Enquiring about where your parking space might be and how long it will be before you get a raise gives them a clear understanding of what your main priorities may be.
10. Be intimidating: For some people it may seem like a gift to be asked so many intelligent questions about oneself and one’s interests. For some people it’s an opportunity to show off and prove how interesting and intelligent you really are. This is not the place. Even if you feel you’ve got a higher IQ that all those asking the questions put together, don’t come off superior and patronizing. It may very well be that you have attained greater levels of education, more knowledge about the business, greater number of years experience and so on. Have humility and appreciate that this is the situation you find yourself in right now. It’s true that, particularly in a soft job market, individuals find themselves applying for positions for which they are over-qualified. Suck it up. If you’re in the interviewee chair, then you must need or want the position. If you really want to get the job, show some humility.
Realize that these are the most common blunders on interviews. Of course, there are more, but regardless AVOID them at all costs. If you are making a serious transition and have been out of the interview process for a while, I suggest that you find a coach who can help you fine tune your skills.
Above all, stick with the process, it will pay off! Good luck!
About Gail Kasper: Mid-1998, Gail Kasper started her business from a small one-bedroom apartment, in the middle of bankruptcy, with no money in the bank. Today, Gail is one of the nation's leading speakers, author, Top 1% Club Mentor, a television host, advice columnist, Certified Fitness Trainer, Ms. Continental America 2008, and the creator of SAD-T™ (Systematic Attitude Development-Technique™). A former Contributing Editor to Success Magazine with the "Ask Gail" column and host of the "Ask Gail" segment on the Comcast morning show, Gail is the author of her self-help autobiography Another Day Without A Cage: My Breakthrough From Self-Imprisonment To Total Empowerment and the self-help parable Unstoppable: 6 Easy Steps To Achieve Your Goals. With national media appearances that include Inside Edition, The Today Show, FOX Business News, and Oprah and Friends, Gail has earned the ranking of an in-demand national media personality who has been the topic of discussion on Regis and Kelly. The current host of the Philadelphia Visitors Channel, she has also made numerous appearances on network affiliates that include ABC, FOX, CW11, Comcast, and CBS, where she co-hosted the Emmy award-winning America's TVJobNetwork. www.gailkasper.com
This article is courtesy of the Top 1% Club and the Top 1% Club Mentor Gail Kasper. For additional information on Gail Kasper, her television appearances and speaking engagements, please visit gailkasper.com.