Over the years I’ve interviewed a significant number of people for various positions. Some are good, others are bad. But I just had a guy totally blow an interview so I thought I’d share some thoughts.
This guys looked solid on paper. But in person? Wow. Just really, really bad. Here are three major interview mistakes that he made.
Don’t ramble on
I opened the interview by asking the candidate to tell me a bit about himself. Dude, I said a bit, not your entire life story. But once he got rolling, he just rambled on. And on. And on. Honestly, I was so annoyed (and bored) by this that his chances went straight down the drain.
Sure, he could’ve just been nervous but there’s simply no way that I’ll hire someone — no matter how qualified they might be on paper — if I can’t stand the thought of working with them. And rambling on about nothing in particular during an interview is a great way to give me that feeling.
Don’t have inexplicable employment gaps
Another problem with this guy was that he had an extended (as in 2-3 year) gap in his employment record. Gaps of that sort are always a red flag to me, and even more so if the candidate can’t offer a reasonable explanation.
He had a long (and rambling; see above) explanation but it completely lacked substance. It had something to do with being “lucky” enough to have gotten a great job offer during that time but “unlucky” enough to not have accepted it. Huh?
For starters, try projecting some confidence. If he really did get a great offer, why is he telling me that it’s because he was lucky? And if he turned it down, it couldn’t have just been because he was unlucky. There must have been a reason that he made that choice.
As for how he lost the previous job, he didn’t really offer an explanation (even after prodding). And he was likewise unable to explain why he wasn’t able to land an acceptable offer in the months (or years) since he was unlucky enough to have turned down the lucky position.
Don’t indict yourself
And finally… I find it hard to believe that I even have to bring this up, but:
If you feel the need to preface a statement with “I probably shouldn’t be telling you this” then you’re probably right. You shouldn’t tell me, or any other prospective employer, whatever it is that you’re about to say. But guess what? He did.
Believe it or not, during the course of our interview he admitted to having done something illegal at the behest of a former employer (maybe this is what led to the long period of unemployment). Though he said this in a semi-sheephish way, it was clear he was trying to impress me. Seriously? You think that admitting to criminal wrongdoing is going to impress me?
What about you? Have you ever had a job interview blow up in your face (as either the interviewer or the interviewee)? Do you have any tips for mistakes to avoid during the interview process?
4 Responses to “Job Interview Mistakes”
I love reading posts like this; advice from someone who’s had the experience and knows what works and what doesn’t. Although these three points should be understood by any job applicant, some just don’t know the rights and wrongs. I believe myself to be a good interviewer, but know that I do get very nervous from time to time. Another big no-no I would advise to stay way from is talking negatively about anything or anyone-even if asked for a weakness.
For guys, Shave , Shower, have a good haircut. Dress
in clean suitable clothes. Sit upright and be sure to
look the inter-viewer in the eye. Answer the questions
asked promptly ,don’t ramble aimlessly on, but be
honest with your replies . Shake hands and smile
when the interview is over.
I interviewed a lady who claimed to know how to use the computer. My office needs computer-literate staff. This woman claimed to have a computer at home and to check her email everyday. After the interview, I gave her a trial period where she came to the office to file papers. During this time, I emailed her twice. No reply.
Then one day she had to leave work early, so I said, “Ok, but check my email because I will tell you what your schedule is for the next few days by email.” My email asked her to verify receipt. She never replied. When she did reply, she left voicemail saying that she “missed my email.” one hour and half later, she left another email saying, “I checked my email and your email never came through. I never received it.”
So what was it? Did she “miss my email” among the dozens that she had or did it “never show up?” If you are going to lie, you should get your story straight. And even if I believed the reasons for not replying to me this time, what about the two prior emails that I sent the last week where she never replied?
I never called her back, never emailed her again, and never gave her the job. If she couldn’t do simple email, she would not know how to handle the software program that we have for all staff. I later learned from a third party that this woman was “not good at computers.” She likely did not even have a computer at home and never checked her email. My question is: how was she going to fake knowing how to use a computer or our software program? My office is a busy law practice. If you can’t use the computer, you are useless to us.
I had an interview for a position that was supposed to be in one department according to the recruiter and then ended up being in the exact opposite department. I was already there so I continued through with the interview but it totally fell apart. After I had digested it all I didn’t end up even wanting the job so it was a huge waste of time for everyone. Know what you’re interviewing for and don’t just go through the motions if things don’t feel right.