A job interview is essentially an audition, and to pass, you need to exhibit your best qualities. Something as simple as glancing at your phone during the interview may negate the rapport you established with the interviewer or the brilliant answer you just offered. Many of the top interview blunders show a lack of respect or enthusiasm, such as being late, showing up unprepared or failing to convey your interest in the job.
Showing up even five minutes late can wreck your chances of making a good impression on the interviewer. He'll likely see it not only as bad manners, but also as a sign you'll frequently be late if you're hired. If you know you're running late, call the interviewer as soon as possible, explain your delay and let him know when you expect to be there. Ask him if he still wants to meet at the scheduled time, or if he'd prefer to set up another meeting. If you can't call beforehand, apologize when you arrive and tell him why you were late.
Using a Cell Phone During the Interview
Your interviewer should have your undivided attention, and if you answer your cell phone or reply to text messages during the meeting, he may immediately write you off as a candidate. Using your phone during an interview is not only rude, it tells the employer you don't take your work seriously and that you're easily distracted. Turn off your phone or set it to silent before your interview. If you're worried someone might need you, check in at home or at the office immediately before the interview, and let everyone know you'll be unreachable and for how long. One exception: If you receive an emergency phone call from a family member, the interviewer should understand.
Being Unprepared for the Questions
Employers expect candidates to have thoughtful, succinct answers to questions such as "What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?", "Why should we hire you?" and "Tell me about yourself." If you don't have an intelligent, articulate response, employers may feel you don't care enough about the job to prepare for the interview. They may also see it as an indicator of how prepared you'll be on the job. Research some of the most commonly asked interview questions and rehearse how you'll reply, crafting responses that showcase your most relevant qualifications. Bring any supporting materials you'll need, such as a portfolio. If you don't have samples of your work to show the employer, he probably won't want to wait for you to bring them in later.
Not Researching the Company
Interviewers want to see that you're applying for the job because you want that position and want to work for that company, not just because you're looking for the first gig that comes along. Before the interview, research the company and choose several points you can mention if the employer wants to know why you chose that company. Also, use this research to decide what you'll say when the interviewer asks if you have any questions. For example, inquire about the day-to-day aspects of your job, such as what kinds of projects you'll work on.
Not Asking for the Job
In the CNN/Money article "10 Biggest Interview Blunders," recruiter Tim Schoonover of outplacement and leadership development firm Oi Partners says many applicants overlook the importance of asking for the job at the end of the interview. In fact, it's the top mistake his firm sees among job hunters. However, asking for the job increases the chances you'll get it, Schoonover adds. If you don't ask, the interviewer may feel you're not that interested in the job and may choose a candidate who displays more enthusiasm. Wrap up the interview by mentioning what you can bring to the job and telling the interviewer you'd like the chance to demonstrate how you can contribute.
- Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images