The Worst Interview Mistakes and How to See Through Them

As a leader in a rebuilding economy, chances are you’ve had your fingers in the hiring process of your company in some capacity or another. A recent study showed that jobs are going unfilled due to lack of qualified personnel. With unemployed workers looking for jobs and understaffed employers looking for workers, the one gateway between the marriage of the two is the interview.

The interview is one of the best ways for an employer to evaluate how a potential employee would fit into a company’s culture. But due to the skills gap between what the employers want and what job seekers have, there is bound to be some tell-tale mistakes interviewees are making.

Top Five Interview Mistakes

According to a recent study by Express Employment Professionals, 65% of employers say the worst thing a job candidate can do is lie about his or her experience. Whether during the hiring process or initially through their resume, some potential employees try to do whatever necessary to get a leg up on the competition.

Surprisingly, the study also showed that 61% of employers cited “answering their phone during an interview” as a mistake. “It’s hard to believe that a job applicant would interrupt his or her own interview to check their personal phone or send a text, but amazingly it happens,” said Bob Funk, CEO and chairman of the board for Express. With 59%, the third worst interview mistake prospects make is arriving late. The fourth and fifth ranked mistakes were badmouthing a boss or co-worker and acting arrogant with 51% and 39%, respectively.

What They Say about the Worker

Those who lie about their experience show a lack of confidence in personal skills as well as low respect for themselves and others. When a potential employee lies during the interview process, trust and communication is forever tarnished, and the employer may never be able to trust the worker with clients, projects, or management capacities.

Those who are actively or passively engaged with their mobile device show disrespect toward the interviewer and an overall lack of professionalism. Similarly, applicants who aren’t punctual reveal a lack of organizational skills, professional priorities, and interest in the job. If an employee is late for an interview, chances are, being in the office at 8 a.m. sharp will be a chore for years to come.

Regardless of why the job candidate is leaving – or hoping to leave – a current employer, how they speak about bosses or co-workers is a great way to see how they can work with difficult situations and continue to grow. If they badmouth or complain, they may have a hard time seeing faults of their own or even accepting responsibility for how relationships in the office play out. This trait, voted fourth in the survey, is similar to the fifth worst interview mistake – acting arrogant. Confidence and arrogance are two separate character traits – one is a strength, the other is a flaw. One is well-received and an encouragement to co-workers, while the other is destructive. If a person being interviewed is arrogant about abilities and experience, chances are, he or she will not be a team player and may hurt the overall productivity of your department.

How to See through Them

According to a Career Builder survey, 41% of respondents said a bad hire cost them more than $25,000 in 2012, and 24% put that figure even higher at $50,000. With the cost of reckless hiring a major threat in businesses today, it’s important for companies to weed out potentially bad hires. But how does a hiring manager see through these top five gaffes? Answer: by asking the right questions. Here are some questions to ask that break down the five worst interview mistakes.

  1. Of all your work experience, what has had the biggest impact on your career and what specific things did you gain from it?
  2. In today’s world of open information, how do you tune out distractions to ensure focus while maintaining an open communication policy with others?
  3. How do you think punctuality affects a company’s culture?
  4. What is the worst relationship you’ve had with a boss or co-worker, and what did you do to help the situation? What did you learn from it?
  5. What are you most confident in about yourself? What are you most uncertain about yourself?

One Strike, You’re Out

“An interview is a window into a person’s character. Showing anything but the utmost professionalism will quickly lead to a ‘no thank you’ from the prospective employer,” Funk said in the survey release. “Interviews aren’t like baseball. Especially with high unemployment, one strike and you’re usually out.”

Have you experienced any one-strike-out interviewees? How did you see through the tale-tell signs of a potential bad hire? Let us know in the comments section below!

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One Response to The Worst Interview Mistakes and How to See Through Them

  1. Kathy September 3, 2013 at 1:37 pm #

    In a former job, I was interviewing a candidate for a nursing position. I asked her why she wanted to work for our company and she replied, “Because I don’t want to work as hard.”

    She clarified that statement by running down a list of items she was “unfairly” responsible for. Incidentally, nearly every task in her list was included in our job description.

    As soon as she made that statement and gave the rationale behind it, she gave me NO compelling reason to hire her, or even move her to the next level.

    Why would we hire someone who is clearly not willing to go the extra mile?

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