Avoid the Top 10 Job Interview Blunders

job-interviewFortune Magazine and CNN Money recently put together a list of the top 10 blunders, screw-ups, missteps and SNAFUs made by candidates at employment interviews.   The currently high  unemployment rate has made it even more difficult than usual to land a job with about six job seekers for every available position.  In normal economic times, there are about 2-3 seekers for every offered job.  The list below the fold, adapted from the Fortune magazine list, was compiled by hiring managers from companies across a wide range of industry sectors.  These are the folks who see hundreds of candidates each week.  They see all kinds of applicants; the good, the bad and the ugly.  Take their advice if you’re currently seeking gainful employment.

10. Over-Explaining Why You Lost Your Last Job

You can briefly explain that your last position was eliminated or downsized but don’t go on and on about it.  Focus instead on what you can do for this employer.

9. Demonstrating That You’re Not “Over It”

Hiring managers report that in some interviews, people act disgruntled, angry or sad. These emotions are to be expected after a layoff but they should be left outside of a job interview — or you may come off as unstable and communicate that you don’t grasp the business reasons for layoffs.

8. Lacking Personality, Humor or Warmth 

Anxiety about interviewing may lead a candidate to focus too much on getting their talking points across.  They may come off as one-dimensional during interviews.  Remember to show qualities that can be an asset to the decision-making process, including humor in good taste, warmth, and understanding.  Besides your qualifications, interviewers are also sizing you up to see what it would be like having you around the place every day.

7. Not Interested or Enthusiastic Enough

Companies want to hire people who are interested and engaged in the work and the industry.  Don’t go overboard or you may seem desperate.  But do demostrate that you’re interested and would be challenged by the work.

6. Insufficient Preparation – Research Your Potential Employer

It’s critical to be up to date with the latest company news, so be sure to Google the company ahead of your meeting.  Have prepared well-informed, thoughtful questions about the company’s products or services and its future plans. Not knowing enough about the company really shows in an interview.

5. Too Much Emphasis on What You Want

Focus more on what the interviewer is saying. Listening carefully is crucial in steering the conversation toward how you would fit in and what you have to offer.

4. Trying to Be All Things to All People

“Allocate most of your time in the interview to discussion what you know you do well.  Don’t try to “embellish” or oversell your actual qualifications. A good rule?  Don’t apply for any job unless you have at least 75% of the stated qualifications.

3. Don’t Fake It.  You won’t make it!

Many hiring managers report that candidates often aren’t ready to answer difficult questions. So practice.  Prepare and rehearse a 90-second oral resume, and some responses to possible quesries, so that you come across as succinct.

2. Failing to Differentiate from the Field of Candidates

You have to make the most persuasive case possible for why you are the best person for the job.  In particular, address what impact you can have on sales, profits, costs, or productivity within the next three to six months. Use quantifiable achievements from past positions to back up your performance promise.

And the No. 1 “whoopsie” that most job hunters make according to hiring managers?

1. Failing to Ask For the Job

If it has gone well and you are interested in the position, say so!  Finish up the interview by recapping the assets you bring to the job, and ask for the opportunity to deliver results.

24 Responses to “Avoid the Top 10 Job Interview Blunders”

  1. Claudia Hoeppner (Pinki)

    Anthony, thank you for the great tips. With the economy the way it is, there is stiff competition out there for every position opened. Arizona is what you call a “right to hire, right to fire” state. This makes it even more difficult to secure a good job. Personally, being confident ,and more important, being honest with the perspective employer has allowed me always to have a good job. As a prospecitve employee we must be able to demostrate our respect for the potential employer and for them to respect and want us as an employee.

    Pinki

    • Employment at will is a legal concept referred to as the Doctrine of Employment at Will. It essentially means that, in the absence of employment contracts (such as collective bargaining agreements) that indicate otherwise, employers generally may fire employees for any reasons, no reasons and even unfair reasons, as long as they are not illegal reasons. New York is an employ at will state.

      • Claudia Hoeppner (Pinki)

        Rose, Thelma explained it quite well. Arizona is not considered a “union” state. One does NOT have to belong to a union to become employed. We do however, have union’s operating within our state but not many.

        Pinki

  2. It’s very true what Thelma says that not the most qualified candidate will get the job but the one who interviews best.
    My personal experience is that once we are in front of the interviewer one of the most important things is to get in tune with that person right away. While remaining truthful and honest regarding our skills and capabilities, we should feel or sense what the interviewer’s likes and dislikes are. When I got the best job in my life, I could get it because from the very first moment I was in tune with the interviewer; intuitively I knew what and how to answer to please and make a significant impression.

    Thanks,
    Eva

    • Hi Eva,

      I agree with the requirement of being in tune with the interviewer. I think it is really helpful the way Allen School Online has prepared us for the task of finding employment after completing our education. I have learned a lot about myself that I only had hints of in the past but am sure of now. I like the practice and discussions we’ve had about the “do’s and don’ts in an interview. This article here is an “eye opener” also. I know this will be very helpful in the interview process. I am more aware of my talents and attributes. These points will be a great contribution also, in my resume writing.

      Thanks!
      Les

    • Eva made a very good point about connecting with the interviewer.
      At one of my last positions I had to hire people for our seasonal book rush (this is what the back to school time is called at the bookstores). It was very important to me that the person I hired was honest about why they were applying and I usually could tell if the person was going to stay through the rush or if they were just trying to get a discount on their books.

  3. CAROL J BAKER-CLINE

    The top blunders for messing up a job interview, I have probably done every single one of them at one time or the other. I sometimes talk a little to much when I get nervous, then I just don’t know when to quit.
    I have learned since taking this class to be more focused, and to learn to be more confident. I am not a young person so I have to show why it is going to be better for the employer to hire me instead of some young person. I am learning to place my experience and excitement in the fore front to make sure that the employer knows that I can bring the experience of what I know and the excitement for what I enjoy to their office. That will mean less training and a bounce in the moral to the entire team..

    • Rita Noble

      Hello everyone,

      I agree with what everyone has stated so far. One thing that I have learned through the interviewing mocks is that I do interview better than I gave myself credit for. I do believe that how you come across in most cases is more important than what you know (to an extent). I have not interviewed in many years but I usually can tell pretty quick whether I am being perceived as “likeable” and “acceptable”. I have found in the past that many employers hire on these attributes a lot. They want to know that you can be a team player; are willing and eager to learn (their way); open to change; and come across as cheerful to be around. Of course, you must know (as Anthony has pointed out) at least 75% of what is necessary to get the job.

  4. Stephanie Chamberlain

    Anthony,
    Thank you for the tips, it really helped me because I would of not thought of googling the company first and finding out about it. I haven’t had a job interview in a long time so the above information will help me a lot. I will make sure I practice before interview all so because I get real nervous and then mess up what I am trying to say.

    Stephanie Chamberlain

  5. Anthony,
    Your tips were great to read over. It has been a while since I’ve been on an interview and just the thought makes me nervous. I’m new to the Medical Billing world and feel somewhat apprehensive. However, I have a BA in Accounting and feel very confident in this area. So over all, I do feel positive that with both my Accounting background and the training I have received with Allen School I will make great candiate. I just need to practice what I’ve been thought in my career development coarse.

  6. Sandra Almanzar

    Anthony,

    Hey, I appreciate you taking your time to post this information as it has given me a few things to improve upon myself. Also Fortune magazine and CNN Money are two reliable sources and the fact that hiring managers collaborated makes it even more worthwhile to read and consider. By reading this blog, I have seen several things I can add to my repertoire of interview skills, such as researching the company, adding a little humor and asking for the job. I’ve also learned about some of my weakness that I need to be aware of, such as over-selling my abilities and talking too much about my past employment separation or myself. Thanks for these great tips!

  7. Tiffany Dowling

    Hello,

    I also like everything that has been said. I actually have only had an interview one time in my entire life. I am 23 years old and I have worked at the same doctor’s office since I graduated high school. I love working there and I have worked my way up into the billing and coding position. So, the career development part of the program has really helped me. Especially because the last resume I made had babysitting on it. I also found, as someone else mentioned, that in the mock interviews I did way better than I ever thought I would. I think that it is so important to come across as warm and happy during an interview. To act interested and show that you really want the job. I am just hoping that when the time comes for me to interview somewhere else, I can put to practice the things I have learned. Thanks!

  8. Vanessa Straehle

    Anthony,
    Your post gives readers a helpful tool in preparing for a job interview. When it comes down to it most employees want someone who has a great personality and is not stuck in the past or does not seem interested in the position. I have to say that our career development class with Allen School Online has really done wonders for me. I now have a great resume that I recently posted to job boards and I am now able to recognize and point out my strengths. I feel confident that I am properly prepared for any question that will be asked and I will certainly keep these top ten blunders out of my interviews!

    Thank you!
    Vanessa

  9. Shirnale D Walden

    The above article on how to avoid the top 10 job interview blunders is one that everyone seeking a job or planning to seek a job should have access to. You can have the qualifications to do the job but still blow the chance if you don’t know how to go after it and deliver what the interviewer is looking for. The number one blunder listed is one that I never thought about and is sure to use on my next job interview in the near future. I will be sure to definitely ask for the job!

  10. Cathie Hendrix

    Anthony,

    These were some great tips. I too have been guilty of performing most of these blunders. I have also been on the other side of the desk asking the questions and it is not impressive when all someone wants to do is put more emphasis on how unfairly treated they were at their former employers. One thing I have not given much thought to simply ask for the job. After researching the company, preparing for the interview, doing your best to answer all their questions as appropriately as possible, then not even asking for the job? Thanks for the tip as I proceed on toward my new career and interviews to come.

    Cathie

  11. Roberta Lazarus

    Gone are the days when you just filled out an application and if you had the qualifications for the position, you got hired. We have evolved, become more sophisticated and more selective in our interviewing process. Probably a result of more qualified people being out there. Now we take our time and try to determine who really is best suited for the position. This puts the job seeker in a position of needing to stand out from all the rest. We have to sell ourselves. The mock interviews we had for our Career Development class taught us how we need to be prepared, how important it is to use power statements when describing ourselves and our achievements. To prepare for those unexpected and difficult questions that come up during interviews. Take these tips and the tips listed above and we should be better prepared. After all landing the job is the objective. Thanks for the class.

  12. Sean Toutoungi

    First, I find some of the numbers to be hilarious because I fall into doing them alot. Thank you for bringing them to light so we all can learn and avoid the problems as best as possible. I use this and maybe it will help some students for the interview.
    Interviewers are people too. They put their pants on just like you. One leg at a time.

    Sean

  13. Tammie Klump

    Hello Everyone,

    I truly appreciate the above article regarding the top 10 blunders people may make on an interview. I am quite shy, so interviewing is extremely nerve-racking for me. It has been emphasized in the Career Development class, as well as in this article, that practicing and being prepared ahead of time can be very beneficial. I think that in my case, practicing and being prepared as much as possible would help improve my confidence level and decrease my anxiety level.

    The tip about lacking personality, humor or warmth was helpful. I do have a very personable and warm personality, and a sense of humor, but when I am anxious and nervous I think that these qualities do not show through as well. It will be important for me to relax and let my personality shine through.

    I also agree that researching your potential employer is very important. In the past, I don’t think I have done this well enough and have lacked good questions to ask the potential employer. I think it is a great idea to Google the place of business before the interview and to develop a list of questions.

    And as number three states, “don’t fake it”. I agree that practicing and being prepared is so important before the interview. It has been helpful to research possible interview questions on the internet and to prepare my responses beforehand.

    Thanks!

    Tammie

  14. Kanitah Conley

    Hello,
    I think this is close to the best article on tips to interviewing! They are all so accurate. I know that I have interviewed so many times and done some of the above no-no’s, and with jobs so scarce right now, these tips are a great benefit to help us better prepare to ace the interview.
    While all of them are very important, I think the 6th one is a real crucial element of the interview process…knowing about who you are trying to work for. Great article, I gained alot if insight…Thanks!

  15. Paula Bristol

    Trying to find a job is tough enough and even more stressful is the dreaded interview. You need to sell yourself with confidence; but with all those jitters how can you accomplish this? I have learned valuable information from my course in Career Development that will help. The best advice is to be prepared ahead of time with any question that might be asked. This means practicing your answers with confidence to show your value. It also is a great plus to know the background of the company you are applying for which demonstrates your added interests. So practice and be confident and you will achieve success!!

  16. Tracy Burkholder

    This blog was also very helpful. If you don’t know how to properly respond to the interviewer, you won’t have a chance at getting the job. I have really learned a lot this six weeks responding to interviewer’s questions for one of my assignments. It really made me think, but more than that it taught me what to say, and what I shouldn’t say. I haven’t had to “sell” myself for the past ten years, but the business where I worked closed. Now I need to make sure that I can handle myself during the interview process. I definitely feel much more confident that I did prior to my career and development classes. I thought I know how to properly conduct myself, and I did to a point, I just needed some fine tuning. Thanks!!

  17. Hiya, I’m really glad I’ve found this info. Today bloggers publish only about gossip and net stuff and this is really annoying. A good web site with exciting content, that’s what I need. Thank you for making this web-site, and I’ll be visiting again. Do you do newsletters? I Cant find it.

Leave a Reply