Back in my recruiting days, I once had a hiring manager say to me about people he interviewed for jobs: "If it's not 'yes,' it's 'no.'"
In other words, unless the candidate made a truly great impression during the interview, they probably weren't getting the job. And trust me, it's really, really easy to introduce doubt about a candidate into the process. Managers are always looking for reasons to say 'no' - because it's a lot easier than taking a risk on somebody who's less than perfect. It's not fair, but it's reality. Here are some fantastic ways I've personally seen interviewees sabotage their chances.
- Showing up late.
- Leaving your cell phone on – and it rings during the interview. Extra points for stopping the interview to answer it.
- Checking your phone's messages during the interview.
- Being visibly sick during the interview. Seriously, reschedule the interview; you won't impress anyone with your dedication, and you may gross them out by coughing on them.
- Sending "thank you" notes afterward to some interviewers and not others.
- Asking no questions during the interview. You'll appear bored.
- Asking stupid questions. Yes, there is such a thing as a stupid question. Especially dull, obviously improvised questions which clearly illustrate you didn't prepare.
- Bringing up salary before they do.
- Swearing. This isn't limited to the 7 words you can't say on television. If you wouldn't say it in front of your sweet, old grandmother, don't say it in the interview.
- Not dressing up for the interview. Business casual usually applies after you've gotten the job.
- Taking bathroom breaks during the interview. Repeatedly.
- Calling the interviewer "dude."
- Behaving nicely to the hiring manager, and rude to Human Resources.
- Giving varying answers to different interviewers asking the same interview question. Trust me, they'll compare notes.
- Having bad breath. It's a bad idea to eat a tuna fish sandwich with onions just before your meeting. Oh, and remember to use deodorant, too.
- Hitting on an interviewer.
- Lying. Probing questions can flesh out dishonest information pretty quickly.
- Badmouthing your current or former employer.
I'm sure I'm missing a few beauties. Feel free to send me your favorite examples – if I get enough, I'll include them in a future article!
Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at firstname.lastname@example.org, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.