The job interview is usually the most critical step in the job-seeking process.
But you'd be surprised what some people during those all-important sessions!
CareerBuilder.com did a survey of hiring managers to compile a list of the most common interview mistakes.
And on "The Early Show Saturday Edition," CareerBuilder Vice President of Human Resources Rosemary Haefner shed light on some of the blunders that were reported, and had pointers on the right way to handle job interviews:
We've heard of everything from pajama pants to flip flops. It's always better to err on the conservative side and wear a business suit or, depending on the employer, at least business casual. You want to show the hiring manager that you take the opportunity seriously. Dressing improperly won't convey that message.
Asking Overly Personal Questions
We've heard of candidates asking hiring managers if they're single and if they'd like to go out for a drink. We've also heard of candidates asking what religion they practice or about their age. Questions should be focused on the company and position at hand. And it's critical that you ask good questions. Employers are looking for this, because it helps them gauge your knowledge of the company and level of interest. Consider asking, "Where do you see the biggest growth opportunities and challenges for your organization over the next five years? How do you see this position contributing to the success of the organization? How do you rate your competitors?"
Speaking Negatively About Previous Employers
Even if it's completely true, you don't want to be labeled a troublemaker or someone who isn't a team player. We've heard stories of candidates using expletives to describe previous employers, or referring to their previous boss as "the smurf," which is never going to work to your advantage. Focus on the positive -- that you are looking for opportunities to grow professionally and be a part of an organization where you can make a difference.
Using Cell Phones
Technology can be a major turn-off. One candidate actually answered her cell phone and asked the interviewer to step outside so she could have some privacy. Needless to say, she didn't get the job. If you do forget to turn off your electronics, apologize and turn the device off right away.
It's a cliché, but honesty is your best policy. It's OK to say that you don't have that information on hand, but you would be happy to follow up with the hiring manager over the phone or via e-mail, whichever is preferred. That provides you with an opportunity to interact with that hiring manager again. It's also important to bridge into a point that supports your qualifications such as, "While I don't have that information on hand, I'd be happy to provide you with some examples of projects I've worked on that exemplify my qualifications."
How do you stand out from the crowd and get called in for an interview?
Get creative, but know your audience. One candidate sent a shoe with a resume to "get his foot in the door." He grabbed the hiring manager's attention and was invited in for an interview. That tactic worked for him, but it may not work for everyone. For example, what may be appropriate for an ad agency may not work for a financial firm.
Leverage social media. Consider creating your own professional group on sites like Facebook or BrightFuse.com to establish relationships with thought leaders, recruiters and potential referrals.
Show multiple personalities. Write several versions of your resume to cast a wider net and appeal to employers in different industries. Consider functional resumes that focus on skill set versus timeline of jobs, especially if you want to break into a new industry.
How do you make yourself memorable for the right reasons during an interview?
You need substance. We've heard of candidates bringing three references live with them in person during an interview. Again, that may work in some situations and backfire in others. All the gimmicks in the world won't matter unless you have substance to back it up. Come armed with specific examples of how you contributed to your previous employers and quantify results.
Come in with ideas. One of the best ways to stand out to an employer is to show that you're already thinking like an employee. If you're applying for a marketing position, come in with five ideas for marketing campaigns the company could consider. Or make a point of calling into the company's customer service line before the interview and provide insight on how that call.