Everyone wants to stand out in their job interview — but it should be for the right reasons.
According to a new survey from OfficeTeam, a staffing service specializing in the placement of highly skilled administrative professionals, some job applicants are most memorable for making silly mistakes.
OfficeTeam asked more than 600 senior managers in the US and Canada to recount the most embarrassing job interview blunders they have heard of or been witness to.
Here are some of their responses:
1. The candidate called the interviewer by the wrong name.
2. One job seeker had lettuce in his teeth when he arrived.
3. An interviewee was so nervous she almost fainted.
4. The applicant did a song and dance routine in hopes of getting the job.
5. Someone brought his pet dog.
6. When a woman was asked to tell the interviewer a little about herself, she didn’t have anything to say.
7. A job applicant was wearing mismatched shoes.
8. A candidate’s zipper was down.
9. One person was caught lying on her résumé during the meeting.
10. A candidate claimed he was late because he got lost, but the receptionist said she saw him hanging out at the coffee shop.
11. A guy didn’t know what job he was applying for.
Of course, some of these mistakes were unavoidable, but others were likely due to a lack of preparation or common sense — or perhaps nerves just got the best of the candidate.
Here are eight tips from OfficeTeam for avoiding embarrassing interview mistakes:
Study up. Do your homework by researching the company and asking those familiar with the employer relevant questions. Doing so will show the hiring manager that you’re knowledgeable and seriously interested in the job.
Do a dry run. Boost your confidence by practicing responses to common and tough questions. Set up a mock interview with friends, or do one in front of a mirror and record it. But remember that you never want to sound too rehearsed in the real interview.
Dress to impress. In doing your research on the company, you should be able to determine what the typical employee wears to work — and then go up one or two levels for the interview. But if you’re not sure, wear a suit. And always pay attention to details and conduct a final head-to-toe check before leaving the house.
Map it out. Verify directions to the employer’s office in advance. Build in extra time so you can calm your nerves before the meeting and not stress about traffic or other delays.
Be honest. If you lie or stretch the truth, you’ll probably be caught — so just don’t do it. And remember that if you have to lie to fit the bill, maybe this isn’t the right job for you anyway.
Watch your delivery. Be mindful of your body language and remain engaged throughout the conversation. Take your time to give thorough, yet succinct, responses.
Be tactful. Speak diplomatically about former employers. Criticising past managers or colleagues will only make you look bad.
Be aware of your body language. Think about what messages your posture, handshake, or facial expressions are sending. And maintain eye contact!
“Interviews are nerve-racking, but proper preparation by job seekers and hiring managers can help things run more smoothly,” said Robert Hosking, executive director of OfficeTeam, in a press release. “Although interview blunders may be embarrassing, candidates who can quickly recover might actually turn an awkward moment into a time to shine.”
OfficeTeam also offered six tips for recovering from embarrassing interview mistakes:
Pause. Collect yourself and remember that everyone makes mistakes. Your ability to recover may impress the employer.
Let it go. By dwelling on it, you draw more attention to your mistake. Instead, focus on putting your best foot forward during the remainder of the meeting. If it’s a silly goof, like spilling your coffee, you may even be able to have a good laugh about it.
Stay upbeat. Even if you get the impression the interview isn’t going well, try to remain optimistic. Look for an opportunity to demonstrate any additional knowledge about the company you gathered from your research.
Focus on what you have to offer. Get back on track by emphasising the skills and experience you have and how they will benefit the company.
End on a positive note. Always send a thank-you note after the interview — even if you’re confident you won’t get the offer. It’s another opportunity to make your case. And if you botched one of your responses during the meeting, the follow-up note is a good place to revisit or clarify your answers, if you didn’t already make adjustments before leaving the interview.
Don’t jump to conclusions. You may think a mistake just cost you the job, but the hiring manager might not feel the same way. We’re always the harshest critics of our own performances.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.