Career Advice for Job Seekers

6 Worst Interview Mistakes Job Seekers Make

Steven Rothberg AvatarSteven Rothberg
January 10, 2013

Rosemary Haefner of Careerbuilder

Rosemary Haefner of Careerbuilder

One-in-four workers (25 percent) reported they plan to change jobs in 2013 or 2014. While outrageous actions by candidates in job interviews can result in lost opportunities, so can other behaviors that are seen more frequently. When asked to identify the top detrimental mistakes in job interviews, hiring managers reported:

  1. Mistake: Appearing disinterested is the No. 1 turnoff, according to 62 percent of employers. Tip: A lack of enthusiasm can leave the employer feeling less than enthusiastic about you as a candidate. Maintain good energy throughout the interview. Make sure to ask thoughtful questions about the company’s competitive positioning and growth prospects, and come in with ideas.
  2. Mistake: Answering a cell phone or texting – 60 percent. Tip: Make sure to turn your phone or tablet off, or better yet, leave them at home. This is a major pet peeve for employers and can often be a deal breaker.
  3. Mistake: Dressing inappropriately – 60 percent. Tip: It’s better to err on the conservative. Wear a business suit or business casual (ie, a nice pair of pants/skirt and button down shirt).
  4. Mistake: Talking negatively about a current or previous employer – 58 percent. Tip: This is a good way to be labeled as a troublemakerEven if you are completely justified in your assessment of a past employer, don’t badmouth him/her. Focus on what you learned from that company and how it’s relevant to the job at hand.
  5. Mistake: Failure to make eye contact (72 percent) or smile (42 percent), bad posture (38 percent) and a weak handshake (28 percent). Tip: Body language speaks volumes. Chin up, back straight, big smile, firm but not too firm handshake and look straight at the interviewer.
  6. Mistake: Not providing specific examples – 34 percent. Tip: Vague responses can sometimes imply a lack of knowledge or experience. Come equipped with specific examples of how you contributed to the success of other organizations, quantifying results whenever possible.

“One-in-four workers plan to find new jobs this year or next,” said Rosemary Haefner, Vice President of Human Resources at CareerBuilder. “A job interview can be one of the most nerve-wracking experiences out there, so it’s important to plan and practice. Have a friend run through a mock interview with you, asking questions you think will come up and some curve balls you’re not expecting. Thoroughly research the company ahead of time and draft responses that incorporate your accomplishments. The more prepared you are, the less likely you are to run into mishaps.”

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