How to guarantee you’ll fail a job interview without even speaking

How to guarantee you’ll fail a job interview without even speaking

I’m a commercial manager with 13 years’ experience, and a solid record in both growing and maintaining stability in all of the businesses I’ve managed.

The key to achieving this is by hiring and retaining excellent staff, exceeding sales and business targets, ensuring client satisfaction, developing new revenue streams and tight P&L management.

Hiring and retaining staff is key to a company’s growth and there’s no doubt that good talent is hard to find.

I’ve done my fair share of interviewing, and each time, I’m surprised by the many mistakes job candidates make, even before they’ve answered a single interview question. My aim with this post is to shed some light to job seekers and explain some of the big interview crimes they’re committing in the process.

Recently, I was hiring for two jobs which had been quite challenging to source talent for. We are always recruiting and meeting like-minded people, but for these roles we had to be extremely active and meet with 43 candidates.

In order to sort the wheat from the chaff, we first conducted a phone interview to vet the job seekers for the right experience, and to assess their communication skills and potential culture fit. We then went on to set up face-to-face interviews with the candidates who met this criteria.

Based on my experience in these face-to-face interviews, I have some strong advice for job candidates to ensure they don’t get cut from the shortlist before they’ve even spoken.

Discover more job interview tips

Time is of the essence

Out of the interviewees, 16% were late. And 57% of those that were running late didn’t call to update us. One person was 25 minutes late! They didn’t call through and were surprised when I refused to go ahead with the interview. Moral of the story, if you’re late and you call, I can accommodate. However, late and no call – you’re out.

Out of the job seekers we met with, 12% turned up between two hours and half an hour early. Being too early is the same as turning up late; you are inconveniencing your potential employer. Not sticking to the pre-arranged time for an interview shows poor time management.

By this stage, we’d already ruled out 21% of interviewees without even interviewing them.

Take notes!

We may live in a digital age, but always turn up with something to scribe with. For these roles, 13% came to the interview ill-equipped. How can you show interest in your potential company if you can’t write down notes or key points? One of them apologised and asked if they could use their phone to take notes, and I respected the quick thinking.

We asked all of job seekers if they thought not bringing a pen and paper to an interview was acceptable. One candidate said he had a photographic memory and didn’t see the need! That would have been great if he hadn’t come in an hour early. (I never bothered to mention that to him).

Now my talent pool had quickly halved and I was yet to ask a single interview question.

Your mobile phone belongs in your pocket

I don’t want to see or hear your phone while we are in a job interview. And, I certainly don’t want you looking at it! If you are interested in a job, what can be more important than a potential employer telling you about their business? Luckily no one answered their phone, but 12% found the need to check their phone at least twice. What impression does that give? It suggests a lack of respect and concentration.

My intake of 43 people had whittled down to a mere 17 prospective employees.

Maybe I should be happy that these errors helped narrow down my choices? On the contrary, I see it as wasted time and lost opportunities for both parties. What it taught me is that there are a lot of underprepared job candidates in the market. By just following a few simple rules of interview etiquette, their chances of being the successful applicant would have increased dramatically.

Good news for me is that after a thorough process, I eventually found my two recruits – both respectful, conscientious and keen employees! Want more information on the things that fail you in a job interview? View the Robert Half Slideshare below.

Gary Nissim is Managing Director of indago digital. Gary is a commercial manager with a solid record in ensuring the stability and growth of all the businesses he has managed. Gary has achieved this by maintaining an excellent record in staff retention, exceeding sales and business targets, ensuring client satisfaction, developing new revenue streams and by tight P&L management.

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