I have interviewed countless numbers of people for various positions ranging from IT to Marketing. I felt a great amount of satisfaction when I brought in a quality candidate that excited my coworkers and quickly filled a needed position. On the downside however, I had to kiss a lot of frogs before I could find my prince (figuratively speaking). In recruiting, I experienced some interviews that were memorable for all the wrong reasons. It never ceased to amaze me the inappropriate things people would say or do. Many aspects of interviewing are common sense, but some people don’t have the sense to do the right thing. From my experience, here are five mistakes you should avoid in an interview.
I put this one first for a reason. It’s wrong on so many levels and completely unethical. People can be dishonest. They lie on their resumes and they lie in interviews. Eventually they will get caught. I believe there are different levels of lies. Some people will lie and say they know a subject matter when they don’t. A good recruiter can flush that out quickly. Some people will exaggerate their resume experience, but many times that can be found out through references. Worse, some people will lie and say they have a college degree when they don’t! I had one good candidate who we dismissed when her background check proved that she didn’t actually complete her degree. Oops. A background check with another candidate (who was also good) revealed that his social security number belonged to a deceased lady. If that isn’t a good reason to not hire someone, I don’t know what is.
Don’t Give Textbook Responses
It’s important to practice for an interview, but don’t give canned answers. Seasoned recruiters tend to hear many of the same answers to certain questions. One of my personal favorites is the frequently heard answer to my question “What are your weaknesses?” Most candidates told me that they were ‘perfectionists’. When I heard that I usually would think in my head ‘yah right’ and then I would think that they weren’t being honest. There are a lot of tips out there on how to interview, but answer truthfully and be yourself. If you are too textbook, you will come off as insincere and rehearsed.
Don’t Get Personal
You should always avoid talking about your children, pets, financial situation etc.. Why is this? Well for starters, recruiters cannot ask you questions related to such things as your marital status, child care arrangements, race, age, etc.. It’s illegal. Even if you reveal that information, it doesn’t give the recruiter a green light to ask away about anything personal or irrelevant to the position. Not only that, but it will make a recruiter nervous. Lawsuits are abundant these days and recruiters have to be careful. You also may do yourself a disservice by giving recruiters too much information. While it’s against the law to hold that information against a candidate, some less savory recruiters may use it as a reason to not hire you. Do yourself a favor and stick to business.
I have had many interviews where people were not prepared to ask questions or answer questions regarding my company. Always research and develop questions regarding the interviewing company ahead of time. In one interview, I asked the candidate what our company did and she had no idea. The other recruiter in the room with me was so disgusted that he almost walked out at that moment.
Also, always be ready to deal with a cold call. Whether your resume is out there on Monster or submitted through a company website, you need to be equipped to take a call from a recruiter. A recruiter assumes the candidate is ready to handle an interview at a moment’s notice. I ran into many situations where the potential hire was so nervous and ill prepared that it was torture to get through the interview. It was obvious that they had created their resume, but were not prepared to discuss it.
Arrive On Time
This is the easiest one to remember and do. But it can also be the deal breaker in an interview. Someone who shows up late is viewed as unreliable and incapable of following directions. It also starts the interview off on the wrong foot and may throw off the entire interview schedule, especially if several people are involved. Many times, unless the candidate is exceptional and has a very good excuse, there is no chance that the candidate will be hired. Always verify the address and map it out before the scheduled interview. If you are bad with directions or unfamiliar with the location, do a test run before the interview.