Don’t let this happen to you – Robert Half reveals interview blunders

21 June 2011

London 21 June 2011 – New research conducted by recruitment specialist Robert Half, reveals the array of ‘interview blunders’ being made by unprepared  interviewees hoping to enter the jobs market.  Robert Half questioned a number of leading hiring managers  to ascertain the biggest mishaps they or their colleagues have witnessed when interviewing candidates.

From bringing pets to interviews, making family phone calls and singing responses, here are the top seven blunders:

  1. “One person brought his mother to the job interview and let her do all of the talking.”
  2.  “A job applicant came in for an interview with a cockatoo on his shoulder.”
  3. “The candidate sent his sister to interview in his place.”
  4. “After answering the first few questions, the candidate picked up his mobile and called his parents to let them know the interview was going well.”
  5. “One candidate sang all of her responses to interview questions.”
  6. “When asked by the hiring manager if he had any questions for him, the candidate replied by telling a knock-knock joke.”
  7. “One candidate handcuffed himself to the desk during the interview.”

Although these blunders are extreme, even small mistakes during the job interview can cause professionals to miss out on opportunities. To help applicants put their best foot forward, Robert Half has recently launched a website, www.roberthalf.com/dont-let-this-happen-to-you, with satrirical videos showing interviews that have gone awry, along with tips for avoiding common blunders. The videos were created as part of a crowdsourcing competition and are part of Robert Half’s new career blunders video series, Don’t Let This Happen to You.

“For many, the interview process can be a stressful and nerve-wracking experience and can lead to subtle interview mistakes,” explained Phil Sheridan, managing director of Robert Half UK. “To put your best foot forward, try to let your personality shine through as employers are looking for candidates who display excellent interpersonal skills and good judgment in addition to strong technical capabilities.”

Interpersonal abilities, or lack thereof, got the following job seekers into trouble:

  • “When asked by the hiring manager why she was leaving her current job, the applicant said, ‘My manager is a jerk. All managers are jerks.’”
  • “I interviewed someone who had a jawbreaker in her mouth during the entire interview.”

Putting the cart before the horse by issuing demands about salary, benefits or perks is an unwise move. These applicants should have focused on the employer’s needs:

  • “When asked what motivated him, the job seeker replied, ‘I’ve got a big house and a big car and a big credit card balance. Pay me, and I’ll be happy.’”
  • “The applicant told me he really was not interested in the position, but he liked that we allowed for a lot of time off.”

Hiring managers appreciate authenticity, but common sense should prevail. These job hopefuls were a bit too candid:

  • “In response to the hiring manager’s offer to answer questions about the position, the job seeker replied, ‘What happens if I wake up in the morning and don’t feel like going to work?’” 
  • “One prospect told me all of the reasons he shouldn’t be hired.”
  • “The candidate said she would really prefer a job offer from our competitor.”

If nothing else, employers expect interviewees to dress professionally. While the right attire alone won’t seal the deal, the wrong outfit can sink your chances. Here are a few examples of what not to wear:

  • “An applicant wore the uniform from his former employer.”
  • “The candidate arrived in a cat suit.”
  • “A person came to the interview in pajamas with slippers”

Finally, exhibiting dishonesty is the ultimate interview error:

  • “After being complimented on his choice of college and the standing he achieved, the candidate replied, ‘I’m glad that got your attention. I didn’t really go there.’” 
  • “After arriving for an early morning interview, the job seeker asked to use the hiring manager’s phone. She proceeded to fake a coughing fit as she called in sick to her boss.” 

Robert Half offers advice on avoiding four common interview mistakes:

  1. Going on, and on and on … While you certainly don’t want to give a series of one-word responses, be careful not to ramble. Aim to be thorough, yet succinct. Don’t over-answer or attempt to fill dead air in between questions.
  2. Poor ‘posture.’ It’s not just what you say but also how you say it. Slouching, constantly shifting in your chair, crossing your arms or wearing a tense expression can signal nervousness or disinterest.
  3. Ranting and raving. It’s important to be tactful and diplomatic. Criticising former employers only makes you look bad. Even a mildly sarcastic quip can raise red flags. When in doubt, take the high road.
  4. Throwing in the towel. Don’t act dejected if you feel the interview is going poorly. If you fumble a response, maintain your composure and move on. Showing that you can swiftly recover after a setback might actually work in your favour.