The following is an approximate transcript.
HEATHER: Hello and thank you for joining Episode 27 of Talent Connection, a podcast about connecting job seekers and employers, produced by Cachinko. My name is Heather Huhman, and I am the founder & president of Come Recommended, as well as the Career & Recruiting Advisor for Cachinko. I’m joined by my co-host, Tony Morrison.
TONY: Thank you Heather and good morning. My name is Tony Morrison and I am the vice president of Cachinko. We help job seekers find jobs matched to their specific skills and preferences, and we operate a job matching and career networking application on Facebook.
HEATHER: Today’s episode is “How to Ruin a Job Interview.” Let’s get started. What are the most common mistakes a job seeker can make in an interview?
TONY: There are so many mistakes one can make. Generally, mistakes are made because a person is just nervous. Some common mistakes include arriving too late, or even arriving too early. Wearing inappropriate clothing, smelling of cigarettes or too strong a perfume or cologne. Maybe they forget their interviewer’s name, or they’re not listening to the interviewer and they appear disinterested when really they are trying to think of the next thing that they will say. A poor handshake is another common mistake. Not making eye contact or holding a staring contest with your interviewer. Talking about other job offers as if you are in high demand is a common nervous mistake, and dropping names as if you are incredibly important and well connected. Some mistakes involve getting ahead of yourself, like inquiring about salary and benefits too early in the process…and, others are trying to appear overly modest and being self-deprecating. You should practice your interviewing presence by role-playing with friends or family. By role-playing, you can work out the bugs in your body language and tone, and you can practice answering the standard questions.
Those are some common mistakes, but there are 7 other very common, and serious, mistakes that job candidates make as well. These include: 1) bad mouthing your last boss or company; 2) lying or exaggerating about skills and experience; 3) failing to research the company in advance of the interview; 4) not being prepared for the standard questions; 5) being unable to articulate how your strengths and skills are applicable to the job for which you are interviewing; 6) asking either too many questions or no questions at all; and 7) failing to ask for the job.
To overcome these types of mistakes you have to prepare for the interview thoroughly. You must stay focused on your resume and skills, and know how to match your capabilities to the job description without embellishing. It’s okay to be enthusiastic and let your interviewer know you are genuinely interested in the job, you just don’t want to ramble on nervously or be overly aggressive and get carried away with your responses to questions.
HEATHER: Once a job seeker knows that they’ve made a mistake, is there any turning back?
TONY: We are all human and we will make mistakes. You can recover from most mistakes in the interview if you are sincere. For example, if you’re late, then apologize for keeping your interviewer waiting. Don’t go into a long explanation regarding why you were late. There is no excuse for it. Move past it and focus on making the rest of the interview great. Likewise, if you made a mistake on your resume, either an incomplete skill or accomplishment, some typographical error or grammatical error that reads differently than what you intended, then own up to it. Apologize for the mistake, and promise to send a corrected resume directly.
The best policy is always honesty and transparency. If the line of questioning starts to move into an area with which you are not familiar, then say so. Don’t embellish on your skills to address that particular question. Many interviewees blow their chances at getting a job because they lie about or embellish their skills and experience. Especially if it is a scenario question and you don’t know the answer, admit it and describe how you would go about finding the answer.
HEATHER: How about after the interview, is there anything a job seeker can do then to correct a mistake?
TONY: After the interview, if you were anxious, relayed an inappropriate story for the question that was asked, or just plain drew a blank during the interview and forgot important points that could have made your responses stronger, then write these observations down immediately after your interview and think through your responses. If you believe correcting your mistakes is particularly urgent, then call your interviewer to thank them for the interview, and also to correct any wrong statements that you made.
You should always follow an interview with a thank you letter or E-mail. And, you can take this opportunity to use your “thank you” message as an opportunity to address mistakes or clarify statements you might have made during the interview.
HEATHER: Without naming any names, what is the worst job interview that you’ve heard about?
TONY: I have heard about interviews that have gone badly for one reason or another. Occasionally, I read about a bad interview experience, or I see an exaggerated skit of interview horror stories played out in video. I have heard of an interviewee hitting on the receptionist while waiting for the interview. I read about an interviewer who was so distracted by work while in the interview that the candidate was prompted to ask why the company even bothered to fly them across the country to interview for the job in the first place.
There are many interview horror stories that describe either interviewers or interviewees behaving badly. But, sometimes it’s not any one person’s fault, and things just go horribly wrong anyway. Maybe the interviewer and the interviewee simply just did not make a connection.
In one story…I heard, a young woman was interviewing for an admin position, and she should have gotten the job. She was prepared. She studied the company, its products, and the job description. She had the administrative assistant experience. She knew that some of the new responsibilities would be a stretch for her, but she was confident she could do the work and meet the hiring manager’s expectations. She met with HR for an hour first, and she nailed that interview. Then she met her new boss. They exchanged preliminary pleasantries and introductions, and then she just crumbled in front of the person that was going to be her boss. The first standard question she asked was, “Why are you considering leaving your current job?” and the young woman broke down crying. The pressure of her personal life had overwhelmed her. She was a single mother. Her father was dying of lung cancer and was living with her, because her mother had already passed away years ago and she had no siblings to help. She tried to apologize and recover for the interview, but she just couldn’t regain her composure. She ended up walking out of the interview; leaving the hiring manager speechless.
HEATHER: Wow! I have to say…so, what happened there? I mean, did she ever follow up?
TONY: She was embarrassed to follow-up with the hiring manager, but she did call the company. Thank them for the time and thank the HR person for actually arranging the interview for her, and apologized for losing her composure. The good news is that the young woman…she had regained her composure after the fact, sent a “thank you” note to HR, and impressed HR. HR kept her [resume] on the desk. And, when another manager was hiring an administrative assistant, her resume was picked up by the HR person, and she was given another shot to interview with the new hiring manager.
She ended up working for the company for years after that. And so, it is a success story, where the young woman was able to regain her composure after the interview, and not give up entirely on the company, but genuinely thanked them for their time.
HEATHER: Well, that is definitely a really, really important lesson. Thanks so much, Tony. That’s all the time we have for today. You’ve been listening to Talent Connection, a podcast about connecting job seekers and employers, produced by Cachinko. For details about the next episode, please visit blog.cachinko.com.