Six Ways to Avoid Blowing Your Job Interview

by Jay Hofmeister on May 20, 2010 in Unemployment

handshake interview 150For nearly five months, I’ve been trying to fill a few positions at our human capital firm, and along the way I’ve learned quite a lot about the many ways job candidates can blow their job prospects—obvious and not so obvious. In this still-challenging economy, it is not what the company can do for you, but what value you bring to the company. You should focus addressing any issues that could keep your candidacy from moving forward, and try NOT to shoot yourself in the foot with one of these moves.

Being Arrogant

Hiring managers want people who are confident—but most also want team players who work well in groups. There is a very fine line when it comes expressing confidence in an interview and what hiring managers see as being arrogant or cocky. Candidates blow their chances when they continually refer to projects they were involved in with the word I. One candidate recently crossed himself off the list by saying he couldn’t stand working with people from West Virginia—obviously, he thought West Virginians were not as smart as he is.

Trying to reinvent the job

About a year and a half ago, I interviewed more than 20 people for an external human resources manager. During her interview, one woman kept asking: “Why don’t they just hire someone?” We kept on telling her that is what the client wanted, but she just could not understand why an organization would want to outsource their HR. Apparently she thought we should tell the client they were making a mistake by outsourcing the department in a recession and saving $400,000. Guess who didn’t get the job?

Making disparaging remarks

…and not just about people from West Virginia. I can’t believe some of the things candidates say in final interviews—and in this economy! One candidate, at a final interview for a job that paid $90,000,  referred to a person he worked with as a “butt monkey.” The HR Manager said it was a first in her 20-plus year career. Another candidate went off the deep end and started making numerous negative remarks about his former company and boss. Not the way to score a job.

Frettting about the commute

Even when jobs are few and far between, we have candidates who bitch about traffic. Last March I went to a networking event and spoke to a woman who had been out of work for a few months and had interviewed at big agricultural company. She got the offer, but asked that the hours be changed to , say, 7 to 4, because of the 40-minute commute. (She ended up turning down the job.) Another candidate told us that a 25-minute commute was too far. She hated traffic.

Getting emotional

Just last week a candidate that had been out of work for over a year had a final interview with a Fortune 500 company. He got so, er, passionate about his field that he started crying, To make matters worse, he started talking about how his faith in Jesus Christ was getting him through this time of unemployment. Talking religion and weeping will definitely blow your chances.

Asking dumb questions

Dumb questions to ask in an interview are “When do the benefits start?” When will I get a raise?” “How soon before I will be up for promotion?” and “How many hours do you expect me to work in a week?” Some of these questions should never be asked and some should only be asked after you actually have an offer in hand.

Jay Hofmeister, who co-founded The Resume Bay and is co-author of Sharpening the Axe, has taken the pain out of the job-hunting process for hundreds of job seekers, from entry to executive level. He invites you to go to for help landing that next job.

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