Considering all the advice about interviewing out there, you might feel you have to walk on eggshells when you’re interviewing for a job.
Don’t worry. Asking to reschedule your interview won’t blow your chances. Nor will asking too many questions.
And, believe it or not, neither will showing up late.
While we certainly don’t recommend you go out of your way to be late, experts say that most interviewers will understand if you get stuck in traffic. The important thing is to go about informing your interviewer the right way.
In fact, there are quite a few things you might think would cost you the job that, in reality, won’t:
Asking to reschedule
Before you get an in-person interview, you'll likely talk to a recruiter or hiring manager on the phone as part of the preliminary vetting process. If you get this call at a bad time, you don't have to take it right then.
'I've interviewed too many candidates who simply answered their phone and were distracted, unprepared, and more -- it's not their fault,' Vicki Salemi, a career expert for Monster, tells Business Insider. 'Am I saying to not answer your phone? No. But when you do you can simply state, 'I would love to speak to you but I'm in the middle of something right now. Can we schedule time on the calendar to have this conversation?'' The employer won't think any less of you for doing this, Salemi says.
The same holds true if you're sick or something comes up and you need to reschedule your office interview. Salemi says you just need to give the employer enough notice -- at least 48 hours would be best, though, if you're sick, sometimes 24 hours will have to do. When you ask to reschedule, mention the reason without getting into too many gory details, she says.
Asking which job you're interviewing for
'When I worked in corporate recruiting, it wasn't uncommon for candidates to apply to more than one job at the company,' Salemi says. 'When you're contacted about your résumé, go ahead and specifically ask which role they're talking about. You'll need it to market your skills and experiences towards that job over another if they vary slightly.'
'In an ideal world, we would all arrive ten minutes early for our interviews,' says Vicky Oliver, author of '301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions.' 'Unfortunately the ideal world is worlds apart from Manhattan traffic.'
If you are running late, Oliver says you must call ahead. 'You get a lot more sympathy if you call 20 minutes in advance and say, 'I have been sitting in a cab for 40 minutes and am terrified that I am going to be late for our meeting today. I hope you won't hold it against me because I am really looking forward to meeting you.'
Never just slide in late without an excuse. Your interviewer will notice, she says.
'Perhaps you're interviewing for a job that allows hoodies and sandals in the workplace -- that doesn't mean you need to dive deep into the company culture just yet,' says Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer for CareerBuilder. 'It's important to offer visual cues that you do have it together, and one way to do that is the way you dress. Not only will it send subliminal vibes to your prospective associates, science says certain clothing can also boost your confidence.'
Wearing a statement piece
Oliver says that when competing against ten or more candidates in a healthy job market, the most important thing is to stand out. 'You don't want to get lost in the sauce,' she says. We are all taught to wear conservative clothing to a job interview, but selectively breaking this rule can actually help you, she says.
'Try wearing an unusual accessory -- perhaps an attention-grabbing belt that you picked up abroad or a necklace that's a bit loud,' she says. 'With any luck, your interviewer will comment on it, and voila! You've now made a visual impression.' The key is to wear clothing that more or less fits the uniform, she explains, and then choose one item that dramatically violates the uniform.
Falling on your face -- literally
Oliver says that she knows candidates who have actually fallen down during a job interview only to receive the callback. Don't forget that it's better to make an impression, Oliver says, than no impression at all.
Drawing a blank
'The awkward moment. You know it well. The moment you walk down the hallway with your interviewer, and egads, you have nothing to say,' Oliver says. The key thing is not to panic. A little silence during a job interview is normal, she says.
Your interviewer is unprepared
'It's a mistake to assume that every person with whom you meet has read your résumé and is aware of your qualifications,' says Amanda Augustine, career advice expert for TopRésumé.
Augustine explains that, often, last-minute changes are made to the lineup and colleagues get pulled into interviews without advance notice. She says this unexpected interviewer can be a blessing in disguise.
'This meeting gives you the opportunity to tell your career story -- your 'elevator pitch' -- without necessarily having to go line-by-line through your résumé and work history,' Augustine says.
'When you're preparing for a job interview, make sure you've practiced your response to the 'Tell me about yourself' interview question so you're ready to succinctly explain how each role throughout your career has helped you gain a skill or experience that makes you a good candidate for their open position,' she says.
The job seems too low-level
Sometimes you'll get into an interview and realise the position has less responsibility -- and likely, a lower salary range -- than you initially thought, Augustine says. If this happens, don't shut down in the interview and assume it's a lost cause.
'Even if the position doesn't seem like the perfect fit, there may be an opportunity to change the outcome,' Augustine says. 'If you find yourself getting along with everyone you meet and impressing them with your knowledge, abilities, and the value you could bring to the company, you may be able to convince the hiring manager that they have to find a way to leverage your talents in their department. I've seen plenty of hiring managers augment a job description to fit an excellent candidate.'
Forgetting the question asked
Oliver says that it's normal to be nervous during a job interview, and interviewers take that into account. 'If you forget the question that was asked, just smile and ask your interviewer if she would mind repeating the question,' Oliver says. 'It happens to all of us.'
'You may think it's a bad idea to talk about your weekend plans or mention the movie you saw last night, but a little small talk can go a long way during a job interview,' Augustine says.
Once you've passed the initial phone-screen and made it to an in-person interview, Augustine explains that your interviewers will spend a good portion of their time assessing your fit within their team. Small talk helps to let them see a bit of your personality.
She says it's also much easier to negotiate a better compensation package when you've built rapport with your interviewers. 'It's hard to make that connection without breaking the ice over a little small talk,' she says.
However, she says it's best to stay away from personal issues and avoid the two major topics that are always considered off-limits: religion and politics.
Disclosing a real weakness
'Yes, the 'Tell me about your greatest weakness' is a tired interview question,' Augustine says. But there are still many interviewers who use some variation of this question to assess job candidates, she says.
'Many job seekers assume they should give a faux weakness that can be turned into a strength like, 'I'm a perfectionist' or 'I care too much about the work.' I assure you, no interviewer wants to hear one of these lame responses,' Augustine says.
Instead of telling the hiring manager what you think they want to hear, she suggests using this interview question to demonstrate your self-awareness and commitment to professional development. Talk about an area with which you've struggled that's relevant to your work and, most importantly, what you've done to overcome that limitation, Augustine says.
Pockets of silence
'Interviews are nerve-racking affairs. Add a few moments of awkward silence between interview questions and most job seekers will attempt to fill the void with any topic that pops into their heads,' Augustine says.
The next time you find yourself caught in a moment of awkward silence after answering an interview question, she suggests you resist the temptation to ramble on.
'Some interviewers use this technique, known as the 'pregnant pause' technique, to see if the candidate will reveal additional insights that will help them assess the candidate further,' Augustine explains.
Talking a lot
'You want to make the most of your interviewer's time, so you want to be as concise as possible, but that isn't the same as saying as few words as possible,' Haefner says. 'The more you say, the more opportunities you have to show off your communicative abilities, and your experience.'
Asking too many questions
'You need to ask questions. This is your right as a candidate! You're interviewing the employer just as much as they're interviewing you,' Salemi says.
The interview is your opportunity to step inside the organisation, see how the potential boss communicates with you, and talks to prospective colleagues, she says. Your interviewers will expect you to ask questions, so be sure that you do.
Mentioning something you saw on the interviewer's social media feed
'Maybe they recently held an annual volunteer community service day -- if so, ask about the back story -- if it's annual, how people select their service and more,' Salemi suggests. 'You may feel like it's a bit stalker-ish, but it has the opposite effect: Employers who make their information public will probably make a positive note on your candidacy that you're not only interested enough to check out their social media feeds, you're following them closely. This is a good thing.'
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