A job interview gives prospective employers an opportunity to learn more about job applicants and determine if they will be a good fit with the organization. In many companies, the first interview is a preliminary screening, with the most desirable applicants advancing to the second round of interviews. However, sometimes you don’t need to sit around twirling your thumbs and anxiously waiting for the phone to ring. Committing certain “interviews sins” will guarantee that you won’t get a second interview.
Many of these offenses may not seem like a big deal, but thanks to supply and demand, they can have a big impact on your odds of getting a job. As of November 2013, the U.S. Department of Labor reported that there were 10.9 million unemployed persons, but obviously there are not 10.9 million open positions in the country. In addition, a 2012 Gallup Poll revealed that less than half of U.S. workers felt they had job security, sufficient health insurance benefits, or a good chance of being promoted. What’s more, less than half were satisfied with their workload or the level of recognition they received for their contributions. To top it off, less than half of respondents were satisfied with the amount of money they earned, or the level of on-the job stress that they were subjected to. So you can bet that many of these workers are also actively searching for another job.
When you combine the unemployed persons with workers who may be looking for new opportunities, the result is an overabundance of candidates. In this employer’s market, companies often receive hundreds of applications for one position. With so many applicants chasing so few jobs, companies can afford to cherry-pick employees from what appears to be a bottomless pool of applicants. As a result, one mistake can disqualify an otherwise suitable candidate, so it’s important to learn and avoid the type of behavior that can derail job efforts.
You Arrived Late
If you arrived late for your initial interview, that’s a sure way to know that you won’t be invited to return. Unless you were delayed while performing CPR or the Heimlich maneuver on someone, or you were rescuing people from a burning building, lateness is never acceptable in a job interview. Potential employers expect you to consider the interview as important enough to plan your time so that you arrive punctually. When you don’t, you leave a bad first impression, and make them think that you don’t value their time.
The day before your interview, you should prepare your clothes and ensure that your vehicle has fuel and is running properly. If the interview is in an unfamiliar area, you might do a practice run to ensure that you know the exact location, and also know how long it will take you to get there. Also, be sure to add more time for traffic, or in case of difficulty finding a parking space. Some experts advise against trying to interview on your lunch break, since it is harder to control unexpected delays. If you’re getting ready to walk out of the door and your boss says, “I need you to do this now,” you can’t really say, “I can’t because I need to leave for an interview.” Consider trying to schedule your interview in the morning, so you can go to work afterwards.
You Dressed Inappropriately
Having dressed inappropriately is another clue that you’ve had your one and only interview with that company. While you may be a free spirit and like to express your creative side, an interview is the place to convey how your skills differentiate you from the other applicants — not how your clothes, hair, or makeup set you apart. To be on the safe side, choose a conservative business style for interviews. In other words, if you would wear the outfit to a nightclub or while hanging out with friends, it’s probably not the right outfit to wear to an interview.
A nice, dark colored business suit is your best option. Making a good first impression also means that you should smell clean – but not like a walking billboard for the latest cologne, and your shoes should be free of dust, dirt, and scuff marks. If you don’t know how conservative the company is, it won’t hurt to cover up any tattoos. Guys should refrain from wearing earrings, and ladies should refrain from revealing too much skin.
You Were Unprepared
If you didn’t research the company and were unable to offer impressive answers, or to ask questions, it’s almost certain that you won’t get a second interview. Your primary objective was to impress the interviewer with your vast knowledge of the company, how it operates, and any recent trends or developments regarding the company and the industry. If you didn’t bother to research any of this information, you couldn’t effectively tell the interviewer why you would be a great addition to the company and how your skills and talents could help the organization.
Just as being late indicates that you don’t respect the company, being unprepared indicates that you didn’t value the organization enough to find out what type of company you’re interviewing to work for. If this were the case, why would the hiring manager choose you over the next person?
You Revealed Too Much Information
Another tip that you won’t be coming back: you shared too much personal information. A job interview is not the place to share your religious and political views — unless you’re interviewing with a religious or political organization. Jokes about race, sex, age, and disabilities are also off limits, along with speaking badly about your present or former boss. When asked to describe your weaknesses, if you talked about your anger issues, a recent bout with alcoholism, or how it’s difficult for you to complete assignments, you have more than likely sealed your fate during the interview.
Never delve too deep into your weaknesses. It’s a job interview, not a session with your shrink. While we all have weaknesses, you don’t know which weaknesses may make you an undesirable applicant who does not appear to work well with others or take criticism well. Focus the conversation on your strengths and how you can add value to the organization and help it to reach its goals.
The Interview Was Short
As a result of arriving late, being inappropriately dressed, not knowing anything about the company or revealing too much information, the interviewer may have cut the interview short. The average interview lasts at least 30 minutes, so if your interview only lasted 15 minutes – or less – it’s quite possible that the hiring manager quickly decided that you were not a good fit for the company, and decided to end the interview early.
Sometimes, the interviewer may have been called away for an unexpected business crisis, but in these instances, you could expect them to say something about setting up another interview. On the other hand, in rare cases, 15 minutes may have been enough time for the hiring manager to decide that you warranted another interview. In most instances, however, a short interview is not a positive sign.
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