By Linda Lande
(c) January 28, 2010
Today’s economy has plenty of people searching for new employment. But could you inadvertantly be getting in the way of your own job search success?
If you’re falling flat with job applications or interviews, it might be because you’re falling into these common trip-ups.
In Tuesday’s edition of “The Daily Rung,” we shared some of the most frequent pitfalls that happen before an interview that will clearly work against you. Today, we focus on common trip-ups during the interview.
Part 2. Day of the Interview
Are you making any of these common mistakes during a job interview?
Mistake: Putting on the glitz and the glamour.
Quick Fix: First impressions make a difference. For women, Stacey Stratton, principal and executive recruiter of True Talent Group, recommends being as “plain Jane as you can while still being classy.” This means wearing a basic, dark pantsuit or skirt suit (no shorter than 2 inches above the knee), shoes that cover your toes, and understated jewelry and makeup.
“Go for the sophisticated, but modest look,” recommends Marni Hockenberg, principal and executive recruiter with Hockenberg Search. “Nothing about your appearance should be distracting.”
Men should wear a dark well-fitting suit, an understated tie, a white or light-colored shirt, matching socks and polished shoes. A sport coat with nice slacks, shirt and tie also are acceptable. “Make sure your suit fits well,” says Hockenberg. “If you’ve gained or lost weight, then invest in a suit that fits the new you or tailor your existing suit. And get a fresh haircut. ”
Hockenberg and Stratton also recommend:
- Not wearing big or dangly earrings.
- Keeping tattoos covered.
- Not wearing perfume or cologne.
- Popping a breath mint. Bad breath not only is distracting, it’s unpleasant.
- Removing the jewelry from piercings, other than one or two in your ears.
- Placing a towel over your shoulders if you brush your hair beforehand so dandruff isn’t visible on your jacket.
Just remember, “nothing distracting,” says Hockenberg.
Mistake: Showing up late—and not bothering to call.
It’s not like calling is going to get you there any quicker, right?
Quick Fix: Basic common courtesy dictates a pre-appointment notice if you’re running late. “Showing up late is more than just one strike against you,” says Stratton. Consider programming the contact number into your cell phone—that way, you’re sure to have it readily available, if necessary.
It’s generally recommended that you arrive 10 to 15 minutes before your appointment. Allow more time if you’re asked to complete paperwork beforehand.
Mistake: Chewing gum during the interview.
You might want to even blow a bubble or two—especially if your gum is florescent pink or green! Many employers want people who can multi-task. What better way to show them than by talking and chewing gum at the same time!
Quick Fix: No gum. Toss it out before you walk in the door.
Mistake: Leave your cell phone on during the interview.
You don’t want to miss a call for another interview. Besides, a ringing phone means that you’re in demand.
Quick Fix: “Turn it off,” says Stratton. “Don’t even leave it on vibrate. Focus.”
Mistake: Talking a lot.
They want to know all about you, so let them have it!
Quick Fix: “Remember,” says Marni, “the ‘i’ in “interview doesn’t mean that it’s all about you. Listen—and answer questions in a way that lets them know you understand their business.”
Mistake: Not asking any questions.
If you researched the company online, what questions could you have?
Quick Fix: “It’s important to have a few questions for your potential employer,” says Hockenberg, “but don’t ask questions that you easily could have found online, and don’t squander your opportunity by asking generic questions.”
Ask closing questions, such as:
- “Is there a particular part of my background and experience that helped you decide to interview me?
- “In my current role, I’m responsible for activities such as… What part of this experience would you find most valuable to you?
- “I tend to learn new technologies quickly, where do you see a need for that skill in this position?
“This is an opportunity for you to highlight your skills and experience again,” says Hockenberg. “Let them know exactly what you want them to be sure to know about you. Set yourself apart from the competition. Remind them about why they want to hire you.”
Mistake: Letting your mind wander—it lets them know there is more to your life than your job.
Quick Fix: “If you interview with one foot on the gas and one on the brake, the interviewer will sense it,” says Hockenberg. “Interview to get the offer. If it turns out that it’s really not the right job for you, then you can turn it down later.
“Be present. Be energetic. Be focused. Be interested. Be passionate about the job and the company—and be ready to explain why.”