In my career, I have conducted job interviews for upward of 500 engineering candidates during hiring. A statistical breakup would put the figures at 95% for average candidates, and 2% each for the two extremes of brilliants and fakes. The balance 1%, I reserve for special cases. The worst interview mistakes have been characterized here.
The Dirty Harry – It is very difficult to stay close to people who give off an offensive aroma. When you have to sit next to a candidate who is smelling like something in between cheese and rancid butter, it becomes very difficult to focus your mind on his talents. In a country, where the average temperature is 35 degree Celsius for major part of the year, this is one of the top interview mistakes that some candidates make.
The Politician – Some candidates have the making of a politician within them. Ask them a tiny question, and get a paragraph for an answer, free. The paragraph could possibly continue to become a page, unless you put the brakes on. Well, some candidates could have a fine gift of the gab, but for the present scenario, this would be one of the worst interview mistakes to avoid.
Mum’s the Word – On the other extreme, some candidates cause you to recheck if you have really asked the question. Either there is a case of stammering, or a mental blockage, but you need to prod the candidate into answering. It is a tough situation, evaluating a potentially valid candidate who is not willing to speak. Possibly, a medical explanation exists; but this is a job interview mistake nonetheless.
The Award Winner – Some people go through life, collecting awards. Not that this is something to complain about, but it is the exhibitionist attitude that gets offensive. If the answer for every question is evidenced with an honor, the situation feels more like a court-case, rather than an interview. Exhibiting awards, unless asked for, is one of the common job interview mistakes to be avoided.
The Chatterbox – This has lately grown to menacing proportions. Imagine having to stop in the middle of your question, because your candidate has to answer his ringing mobile. After two interruptions, the general feeling is to either throw the candidate, or his mobile, out of the window. In my opinion, this is one of the worst interview mistakes that a candidate can commit.
There are exceptionally special cases, the 1% mentioned earlier. One fresh candidate had the audacity, to ask if the company would pay him the salary he demanded. He had to be reminded that it was he that had applied for the post, and he should have conducted his research, before sending in his application. Instances like this, could be categorized under funny interview mistakes.