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November 14, 2023

5 Insanity-Inducing Job Interview Blunders


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Job interview blunders are more common than you think. Imagine the scene: It’s 2 p.m., and Tim, eager and slightly anxious, races home from the grocery store for his upcoming video job interview. At first, he thought there would be ample time for a quick errand run before returning home for the call. But life had other plans for him.

The checkout counter at the store held him up, and the parking lot seemed determined to test his patience with unexpected delays. Tim’s grand plan of arriving home an hour before the interview to meticulously set up his laptop, and video conferencing equipment, and iron his wrinkled formal work shirt and tie began to crumble.

With just 10 minutes to spare, Tim scurried around his living room, dragging extension cords over coffee tables to power up his laptop, all while trying to keep a wailing toddler and a hungry dog at bay. Donning his half-crumpled ‘winning’ work shirt, he joined the video call five minutes late, preluding his introduction with rounds of profuse apologies. The interview was nothing short of a disaster.

Now, you might be thinking, ‘How can one avoid job interview blunders without sacrificing their sanity?’

1. A Digital Disasters

In the digital age where we spend most of our waking hours on screens, video job interviews have become a standard part of the recruitment process. They offer convenience, save time, and allow both employers and job seekers to connect without geographical constraints. 

However, without adequate preparation, your on-screen professionalism and ability to build a strong emotional connection with a potential employer is at risk of destruction. 

Avoid these video interview blunders:

Unreliable Equipment

Half-charged batteries on your devices will send you into a frantic frenzy as you scramble to charge them midway through the interview. Untested camera devices, microphones and earphones may cause unnecessary delays leaving yawning interviewers waiting in vexation. Computer and video-conferencing software that has not been updated since the Industrial Age, coupled with a wobbly internet connection will create unexpected slow-downs and breakdowns. Test, update and ensure your equipment and internet connections work well. 

Chaotic Communication

A noisy and distracting environment is a recipe for a disruptive interview. A quiet room with a minimalist and orderly-looking backdrop will help you maintain a sense of calm and focus throughout the interview. Select the right space.

A quiet room with a minimalist and orderly-looking backdrop will help you maintain a sense of calm and focus
A quiet room with a minimalist and orderly-looking backdrop will help you maintain a sense of calm and focus

Visual Calamity

Bad lighting can make you appear less professional and reduce engagement with your interviewer. Depending on the time of the day or the weather, the change in ambient lighting can impact the visual clarity of the video call. Having an external fill light placed in front of you will help mitigate any sudden change in lighting. 

Wardrobe Woes

The coffee mug accidentally topples over and you stand up to arrest the situation, only to be caught wearing your well-pressed shirt, necktie and pyjama bottoms.  You thought you could get away with almost dressing professionally, but events can take a turn. Even though this is a video interview, making the effort to dress professionally will help potential employers gauge your level of seriousness and confidence. Don’t dress to impress. Dress to inspire. You want to dress suitably so that you inspire your potential employers to hire you with your sense of presence and presentation. 

READ  Emotional Intelligence at work is important

Curb digital disasters by taking the time to prepare your equipment, environment and yourself. Remember, a good first impression may help you gain a chance to make your second impression!

2. Unequivocally Underprepared

One sure way to disqualify you from the candidate shortlist is to remain clueless about the company you are interviewing for.

Before Kevin attended his first interview at one of the world’s biggest consulting groups, McKinsey & Company Inc., he actually thought they sold vacuum cleaners! Kevin wisened up, researched, understood the company and job scope, and reached the third level of interviews (there were four levels before a job was offered). 

He didn’t get the job, but the lessons learnt were priceless: Know the company, know the job or you won’t know what you could be getting into!

Be prepared. Research on the company before the interview.
Be prepared. Research on the company before the interview.

Not researching the company is a big mistake. If you’re unaware of their mission, values, recent news, or even their products/services, it shows a lack of genuine interest in the position, and you might struggle to answer questions effectively.

Point to Remember: Preparation is the Key to Your Success!

Be mindful of these interview blunders:

Lacking confidence

Your throat tightens, beads of sweat form on your forehead as self-doubt creeps in and you shrink back into your chair. Internal self-talk kicks you with questions like “Why didn’t I read more?”, “I don’t think I’m the right fit”, “Why am I here?”. The lack of confidence is a result of being ill-prepared before an interview. Read, research and understand before showing up.

Appearing Incompatible

Remember that resume you sent? Well, you’re here because of that. The company saw something in there that made them consider you. However if you have not understood the job scope, you will not be able to demonstrate how your experience can become an asset to the employer. Preparation helps you to put your best foot forward.

Questioning Quandary

A job interview is akin to two-way traffic. Both you and the employer will have opportunities to ask each other questions. It’s a conversation.  It would be nothing short of a disaster if you were unable to answer the interview questions with confidence. Equally debilitating would be to ask questions that are irrelevant and too basic for the position you are applying for. Trade jargon, the latest industry news, familiarity with the company’s clients and competitors, and product and service offerings, are some things you can research to help you answer and formulate meaningful questions. At the very least, honour your employer’s time with a basic Google search, if you don’t know where to begin your research!

There are no shortcuts to being prepared. It takes planning, diligence and time to prepare. Avoid thinking you can ‘wing it’ or you might not fly into the second interview!

READ  How to Decline a Job Interview Professionally

3. Refusing to Rehearse

“I’ve got this,” you reassure yourself before walking into the interview room. In your mind’s eye, you saw yourself breezing through the interview, charming your interviewer with your confident wit and wisdom, amidst the warm rays of sunlight bursting through the swanky office room window. 

All of a sudden, the sub-zero, freezing cold, windowless, grey-toned boardroom devoid of life jolts you back into reality. Apprehension sets in. Your interviewers are stoic, all business. No smiles appear, and you realise that your imagined success was just that—a figment of your imagination.

While it is important to mentally prepare yourself for success, and ‘begin with the end in mind’, nothing spells disaster than not practising for an interview. 

Avoid these pitfalls:

Forgetting Key Information

Amid the pressure, crucial details might slip. Prepare by listing and rehearsing your skills, experiences, and successful projects, ensuring clear articulation and avoiding unnecessary rambling. Repetition aids in solidifying information in memory.

Distracting Mannerisms

Unwanted habits can detract from your message. Identify and eliminate distracting gestures or verbal habits like excessive hand movements or unintended verbal fillers (‘uhs’ and ‘ahs’) by rehearsing with a supportive audience.

Clear Communication

Speed, volume, and pronunciation significantly impact communication. Address vocal habits, enunciate clearly, moderate your pace, and practice pronunciation for confident and articulate communication.

Body Language

Non-verbal cues speak volumes. Practise maintaining engaging eye contact, adopting suitable postures, and using expressive yet professional gestures. Remember, they evaluate based on the entire interview experience.

Practice your interview with a mirror. Look for mannerisms that convey confidence.
Practice your interview with a mirror. Look for mannerisms that convey a lack of confidence.

Remember, preparation moulds performance. Stay positive and confident even if the interview scenario diverges from your mental picture. Practice consistently to excel!

4. A Disorganised Dilemma

Pieces of paper flood the interview table as you reach into your bag to search for that certificate requested by your interviewer. A tidal wave of paper clutter now sits between the both of you, sending tsunami warnings to your interviewer about your lack of professionalism.

Effectively organising your certificates, referee letters, portfolio, and other documents into clear folders or digital files portrays a sense of responsibility and self-management.

Avoid Potential Pitfalls:

  • Time-Wasting Disorganisation: Neatly organising your documents ensures easy access when requested, preventing precious time from being squandered in frantic searches.
  • Accessible Digital Portfolio: Some interviewers may request to peruse your digital portfolio. Ensure your device is charged and files are readily available in an accessible folder to avoid awkward delays. Keep your device on standby for swift access.
  • Readiness for Note-Taking: Be prepared to take notes whenever necessary. Carrying a notebook and pen avoids scrambling for receipts or borrowing a pen, allowing you to jot down vital information seamlessly.
Turn off your phone during an interview
Turn off your phone during an interview

Regardless of the job position, the organisation showcases a strong work ethic. Consider this: Would you hire someone in disarray or someone with clear, organised control? Be the epitome of organisation.

5. Evading EI

Another common mistake in the list of interview blunders is ignoring Emotional Intelligence (EI).

Common Scenario

Chelsea walked into the interview room exuding a sense of confidence. All smiles and generous with pleasantries, she was determined to break the ice and deliver her best. But her bubbly enthusiasm soon began to pop as she faced an emotionless, ragged, and dreary interviewer who seemed unresponsive to her efforts. His sulky demeanour began to diminish all hope of making this interview work.

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Chelsea feels turned off by him. She failed to exercise empathy. Instead of being herself, she started to respond to him tersely, hoping to end the interview as soon as possible. 

Not all interviews go according to plan. Sometimes, it is the interviewer who may be overwhelmed, and lack the preparation and readiness to meet you. They’re also human. 

If your responses to them reflect frustration, lack of tactfulness and kindness, you can be sure that the interview is not going to go far. However, your ability to demonstrate emotional intelligence can win their confidence in hiring you.

EI is vital during any interview. Your ability to understand and manage your own emotions while empathising with the interviewer’s needs can set you apart. 

Common EI Interview Blunders

Be wary of the following interview blunders:

  • Hearing but Not Listening: Blank stares and no eye contact sends the message that you are either disinterested or not comprehending what is said or the interview questions. Show that you are actively listening by nodding and providing verbal cues. Clarify incomprehensible information. Encourage the interviewer to share more by asking open-ended questions.
  • A Lack of Empathy: Be empathetic to the interviewer’s situation. Understand that they might be conducting multiple interviews and may have their stressors. Be patient and considerate.
  • Not Enthusiastic: Show passion for the position and the business. Employers want to hire individuals who are genuinely excited to contribute to the organisation.
  • Faking It: All candidates are vying for the job position and will be putting their best foot forward in the interviews. Employers have their authenticity radars turned on to sieve through the candidates who are being their true selves, from the ones who aren’t. Be the best version of yourself and present yourself honestly and authentically.

Follow-up with a Thank-You Email

After the interview, send a thank-you email expressing your gratitude for the opportunity. Mention specific points discussed during the interview to reinforce your interest and engagement.

In Summary, Preparation is Key

If there’s a common thread weaving through these five insanity-inducing interview blunders, it’s the crucial need for thorough preparation. This is one of the most crucial job interview tips. Effective preparation significantly enhances your chances of success. 

By improving yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally, you can create a lasting positive impression. Moreover, honing your communication skills, staying organised, responding well to the interview questions, and nurturing emotional intelligence distinguishes you from other candidates. Proper preparation turns your interview into a pivotal stepping stone toward your dream job.

If you need guidance or more interview tips, don’t hesitate to reach out here. Every small step of preparation propels you toward significant progress in your career.