Hopefully you have never blown an interview as bad as some of these people.
Occasionally, HR reps spill their guts and share some of their weirder experiences with job candidates. You might be surprised by these three surprising places and ways people have blown an interview – and how you might inadvertently do something similar.
Related: Interview Mistakes to Avoid
Let’s start with the places people have blown an interview:
- Parking lots
- Any place in the building that a job candidate can access prior to or following an interview
Looking your best for an interview isn’t just about clothes and grooming. What you drive makes a statement, too. And while we can’t all tool around in a shiny, new Porsche, we can keep what we drive clean and presentable. HR reps report that they (or a hiring manager) have witnessed job candidates arriving for interviews in dirty, messy vehicles filled with bottles, mail and fast food bags.
But wait, it gets better:
One HR rep we know of witnessed a candidate dumping a pile of garbage out of his car and onto the pavement before making his way to the building. You wouldn’t do a disgusting thing like that, but consider the times you might have slumped along as you walked with your coat hanging open, or stopped to blow your nose. These are not the kinds of things that impress interviewers if they happen to be looking out the window. Then there’s the Reader’s Digest article, HR Reps Confess the Most Cringe-Worthy Things They’ve Seen From Job Candidates where an anonymous source said, “I swear this is true: Someone threw his beer can in the outside trash before coming into the reception area.”
Which brings us to . . .
Any place in the building that a job candidate can access prior to or following an interview:
When we’re hyper-focused on meeting our interviewer, it’s easy to forget all the unofficial hiring authorities we’re encountering before and after. Feeling a little cranky because you’re stressed? Don’t take it out on the person working security, or the receptionist, or any one of the half-dozen administrative assistants you bump into, or anyone else for that matter. Say you visit the restroom prior to announcing yourself at the front desk, and the person washing their hands next to you says hello. Which of these responses is most like you?
A) smile warmly and greet them back
B) blow them off because you’re in a hurry
If your answer is B, congratulate yourself on the possibility that you’ve just blown off the person you’re there to interview with.
Or maybe you know the person isn’t your interviewer because he told you he’s just there to get you settled and offer you coffee. We’ve even heard of job candidates making snarky comments about the coffee! Being nice to everyone you interact with is important. First of all, you should be anyway. Second, interviewers often ask receptionists, interns and others for their impressions. Their input can factor into an interviewer’s conclusions.
We know you’d never do the crass, bizarre and occasionally illegal things we’ve mentioned. However, consider the milder versions of these traps that can trip anyone up. Remember that you don’t just magically materialize when you shake hands with an interviewer. The things you do before and after you meet that person can be the impression that seals your interview fate.
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