Job Interview Tips: Don’t Be A Slob Or A Stink Bomb. Searching for a job can be one giant time consuming and emotional process. It can feel like a job in itself filling out applications, writing cover letters, and waiting for the phone to ring. When your phone finally does start ringing and you’re greeted by the sweet news that someone wants to set up an interview with you, first do the goofiest dance and jump of joy that you can, and then get yourself PREPARED!
I’ve reviewed countless resumes in my recruiting experience and have interviewed hundreds of people with all types of backgrounds. Most of my time has been focused on hiring entry-level candidates – and you wouldn’t believe how many applicants believe their work is done after they’ve submitted their job applications. WRONG!
I’ve seen a lot of crazy things over the years, and a lot of repeat goof ups. Here are a few job interview tips to keep you from stumbling into some of the most common and careless mistakes I’ve witnessed.
The First Phone Call Is An Interview In Itself
Many people don’t realize that the initial phone call or email you get from HR or a hiring manager is a mini interview in itself. If you’re actively applying for jobs, you better be watching your email and phone like a hawk!!! NO JOKE guys. Once every 3-4 days doesn’t cut it. Check at least twice a day.
Why? I’ve reached out to several potential candidates with solid looking resumes and turned them down flat because they either took too long to respond or never got back to me at all. Don’t make that mistake. It’s unprofessional and just plain rude. Response time really counts when managers are trying to fill a spot.
Even if you aren’t interested in the position they’re calling about anymore, take 2 minutes to respond and politely decline. You never know when you may run into that person later on in your career. It really is a small world.
Don’t Lose Track Of Your Applications
Applying for jobs is a crazy process. Believe me I’ve gone through it myself many times and I know how hard it can be to keep track of all the different positions you’ve applied for. Do not use that as a reason not to keep track. No Excuses!
The job market is competitive and hiring firms have their pick of the litter so you can’t afford to be aloof. When you get a phone call from ABC company for XYZ position – you should know immediately what the job description is and the background of the company. If you ever tell the caller, “what job is this for again?” you can kiss your chances of getting hired goodbye.
You Can’t Afford To Be A Slob Or A Stink Bomb
I think it’s obvious to show up 5 minutes early to an interview (no, not 15 minutes early or 5 minutes late), dress professionally, comb your hair, nix the cologne/perfume/sports cream, bring copies of your resume on quality paper, and be prepared to fill out paperwork when showing up for a first interview, but SO many people fail at these things ALL the time and then wonder why they don’t get a call back.
I have countless stories of candidates making these types of mistakes. Once I interviewed a guy who had on so much menthol sports cream I almost fell over when I walked into the interview room. I felt sick to my stomach the whole time and all I wanted was to open the door and end the interview early.
Don’t Be Creepy, Crazy Hyper, Or A Downer
No matter how good looking the people are that you meet during your interviews, don’t give into the temptation to flirt, stare, wink, linger, or flatter them. You will just come across as creepy! Being overly hyper isn’t good either. There’s a difference between using energy and confidence when speaking your answers, and talking so fast you could chew the legs off the table.
Being a downer is no good either so don’t bad mouth your prior bosses, complain about how your internships were boring, or whine that you weren’t paid enough at your last position. No one is going to want to hire you after hearing all that negativity. Always put a positive spin on things if you must talk about something you didn’t like.
Nail The Basics & Outshine The Competition
TONS of people still forget to bring copies of their resumes, others don’t iron their shirts, or are so inappropriately dressed their clothes become one big distraction. Ladies you should know to keep your girls to yourself, and guys please don’t wear your black clubbing shirt to a business interview. It’s important to look at yourself in the mirror before you check in too. One guy I interviewed had so much craziness going on with his comb-over I couldn’t concentrate on anything else!
Nail the basics so you can focus on outshining the competition with your personality, experience, talents, knowledge and composure. Bring energy to your interview and avoid speaking in monotone the whole time. Make a video of yourself practicing a mock interview at home. It is SO beneficial. You may feel silly or stupid doing it, but trust me – reviewing the footage can shock you. I did this exercise in college and was blown away at how much I actually sucked at interviewing even though I felt like I was doing ok in my head. After watching my recordings I was able to practice and make a lot of improvements until I was happy with the results and ready for my real interviews.
Common Interview Questions
Interviews can be nerve wracking because you never know what they’re going to ask. Even though you can’t anticipate every question, there are a lot of commonly used interview questions you can prepare for. I’ll be publishing a post on exactly that in the coming weeks so please stay tuned!
Untemplaters, what was the worst thing you ever said or did in an interview? Any of you have a good interview story to share? What are some of your job interview tips?
Modest Money says
Interesting to hear the expectations from the other side of the interview desk. Since I may need to apply for a new job in the next few months, these tips are priceless. I definitely need to try recording a video answering some common interview questions. I’m sure there are things I could improve with my mannerisms and tone of voice.
Nice, I’m glad you find them useful! Since many of us have video built right into our phones and computers it’s hard to come up with an excuse not to try recording yourself at least once. 🙂 Pay attention to your body language, gestures, expressions, tone, and enunciation. Best of luck with your job search and interviews!
Financial Samurai says
Some good points Sydney! Everything is rational, so if they don’t take the time to proofread, respond back in a timely manner, and show enthusiasm, well then, they don’t want it and they are OUT!
Also, for you really attractive women out there who like to unbutton their blouses to the lower levels of your bra, save it for when we go for drinks after! Work place environment is not a place for that.
Thanks Sam. Some women really are too revealing with their outfits during interviews, and as a woman I get so annoyed by that. When I’m interviewing a candidate I want to be able to fully focus on their responses, not their clothes or lack there of!
I worked at an English Dept. in a college, and I was amazed at how many applicants didn’t have an English degree and had resumes riddled with typos and spelling errors. We also had someone who started crying during the interview because she said she needed the job so desperately. I have no doubt that she did need the job, but it was a very awkward situation.
Oh wow typos on a resume for work at an English Dept – that’s REALLY bad! I have yet to experience someone crying during an interview although I have had people cry during performance reviews. Awkward is right!
LOL. This made me laugh. These are all the worst, but sometimes when I’m in an interview (and I think I interview fairly well) I am so nervous that I probably seem over enthusiastic or even a little awkward. I need to work on that for sure. When I go after I calm down and calm my nerves, it goes much better.
Glad you liked it Daisy. 🙂 Yes, nerves can really get the best of us! One thing to remember is that every other candidate is nervous as well, so if you can learn how to manage your own nervousness you’ll immediately get an edge over everyone else. Also, remembering that the hiring managers brought you in because they already think you’re qualified can help too. I recommend candidates avoid saying “sorry I’m really nervous” repeatedly during the interview as that takes away confidence points.
Big Fish says
All great points Sydney, and so true! I teach a small workshop to youth entering the workforce and focus on all of these things, plus a couple others:
– I make them practice “acing” handshakes (complete with eye contact) because nobody wants to be on the business end of a weak or limpy handshake, right?
– Whenever possible, I tell them to try and slip past the evil and nefarious gatekeepers and talk with decision makers instead! These are the people who have the most interest in hiring the best person possible for the job, where sometimes second-in-commands and assistants may feel threathened by a candidates looks, experience, qualifications, etc and not forward the resume to the boss… I’ve seen it happen a million times!
Finally, did I tell them that they should always smile, and be genuine! I can’t count how many people I’ve interviewed for my restaurant who’ve told me through banal facial expressions how they were “great with people”, “really friendly”, ect ! No thank you; don’t want any sour pusses my dishing out my good eats to unsuspecting customers!
Thanks for the great article!
Solid handshakes with dry hands please! I love that you teach workshops to youth. I can’t imagine trusting an assistant or same level employee as an open position to screen resumes. I guess it must happen often since you’ve seen it a lot. I think it’s best for the screening and interviews to be handled directly by the hiring manager and HR if available and keep involvement from staff to a minimum. You’re exactly right that they could feel jealous and threatened by highly qualified candidates and do more harm than good.
And yes, smiling and being genuine go a long way!!
Tyler S. says
I can see the benefit of taking video of yourself in a mock-interview, and I’d imagine that it would really help a lot! Buttttt I’m still too scared to do it… lol. I’m not sure I’m ready to handle seeing just how bad I really am.
It’s worth it though! We can’t get better if we don’t know what our real weaknesses are. I was a lot more serious than I thought so I was able to work on relaxing and smiling more with practice.
John | Married (with Debt) says
Some of these stories made me laugh my ass off. I’ve conducted some interviews where we intentionally try to break people and make them cry in order to separate the weak from the strong (I work in politics, don’t ask).
Hiring managers can afford to be so selective these days. I can’t imagine waiting 4 days to return an email. Must not want it that bad.
Haha yeah people do the weirdest things in interviews. I can understand intense interviewing techniques especially for high stress jobs. Someone may look perfect on paper but if they crack under pressure that can be a huge problem on the job.
Yeah some people are so slow to reply to emails and return phone calls. If they are that slow with managing their career why should any manager believe they’d be faster with their clients!
Here’s a pet peeve of mine (that I myself have been guilty of once upon a time). When multiple people interview you, make an effort to learn their names.
The next interviewer may or may not know who your previous interviewer was and if you can’t tell either, that shows lack of attention!
Yes! It never looks good when people goof that up. Remembering names can be tough in any situation but interviews are a time when you really don’t want to forget or say the wrong name. If your mind does go blank then at least use their titles or avoid phrasing sentences with name references.
How many points do you take off for misspellings and grammatical mistakes on the resume? I remember being near-paranoid before hitting ‘send’, haha.
Seriously, being on the other side, I’ve seen a lot of silliness – and this is in a tech role where most candidates have been through 1 or 2 screens already! Take a deep breath, don’t talk like you’re trying to get it over with as soon as possible, and try to enjoy having a conversation with someone you didn’t know two minutes before. That’s how I see it – when an interview went well it was more of a conversation than a question and answer session.
Oh boy have I seen some horrible grammar and typos on resumes! Those don’t make it into the phone call pile. If a resume has minor mistakes but really good experience, it usually gets into the call pile, but he/she will need to really nail the interview to make it to the next round. If we’re hiring for a job that requires a lot of attention to detail, a resume with errors isn’t going to make the cut.
I WAS paranoid when I was sending out my resume lol. I can’t even count how many hours I spent reading it over and over again checking the punctuation, spelling, formatting, and text. I was probably overly paranoid, but I didn’t want a careless mistake within my control to cost me an opportunity at a great job. It’s so obvious when candidates rush through putting their resume together and sends the message that they don’t really care.