By Sheryl Smolkin
When I managed a team of professionals at a consulting firm I was pretty open-minded about the people I hired, but some things were non-negotiable. In addition to having the qualifications and experience to do the job, candidates had to be well-groomed, articulate team players with good manners and good references.
But every hiring manager has horror stories about entry level candidates who expect a corner office or applicants who seem to think that business casual means shorts and flip flops.
That’s why I was amused but not particularly surprised when I read the results of a survey of over 280 hiring and human resource managers conducted late last year by CareerBuilder.ca.
I agree with hiring managers who said that some of the behaviours most detrimental to interview performance are appearing arrogant; answering a cell phone or texting; talking negatively about current or previous employers; chewing gum; and dressing inappropriately.
However, they also commented on other candidates who:
- Yawned and started to nod off.
- Admitted to being very difficult to work with and stubborn about accepting instruction.
- Arrived late and appear to come straight from a nightclub.
- Provided a reference but asked that the person not be contacted because he would not say anything good about their work.
- Opened and ate a bag of chips during the interview.
- Talked about his outstanding arrest warrants.
- Said he only applied for the job because his parents made him do it.
- Brought his mother to the interview.
- Discussed not wanting to work very hard.
- Arrived for the interview wearing sweatpants.
- Got up and left during the interview without an explanation.
Related: What is a dream job worth?
I realize that some people have a lot to learn about the world of work, but it seems pretty obvious to me that bringing your mother to an interview, arriving late and disheveled or saying you don’t like to work hard will significantly reduce your chances of getting the job.
In addition to avoiding the pitfalls noted above, you can improve your interview performance by:
Doing your research: Before the interview, research the company online by looking at their press room for recent company news, the ‘About Us’ section for information about the company culture, and the list of products and services so you are familiar with all they do. Having this knowledge will allow you to easily answer and ask questions during the interview.
Keeping it upbeat: Many job seekers may be experiencing tougher than usual job searches in this economy. During the interview, stay positive, emphasize what you learned from the situation and stay away from bad mouthing previous employers.
Preparing examples and ideas: Bring your resume to life by practicing specific anecdotes that highlight your accomplishments and how you dealt with challenges in your past roles. Be prepared to share ideas of what you would bring differently to the position. Doing so shows the hiring manager you are already thinking strategically.