10 things to avoid during job interviews


Getting a job or not depends upon an interview and sometimes, a series of them. Employers hold interviews to better know the applicant, whose profile was screened earlier during application process. An interview consists of both verbal and non-verbal communication between the prospective employer and jobseeker. Employers look for high degree academic qualifications bundled with required set of skills as well as great personality. A proper blend of the three ensures success.

Why errors during interviews are costly

Interviewers consider everything: education, skills, experience, attitude, personality, overall presentation among others, within a span of 10 to 30 minutes. Sometimes, a sole interviewer will quiz the jobseeker. In others, several officials from various departments of a company- human resources, administration and finance, department heads will conduct the interview. Regardless of who and how many persons conduct an interview, a jobseeker is screened thoroughly for eligibility. In an increasingly competitive world, employers are spoilt for choice: Meaning, they have multiple applications for a single post. They have free will to hire or disregard an applicant. Any mistakes during these few critical minutes can cost jobseeker a dream job and severely mar future career prospects.

Appearance matters

Wearing appropriate clothes is excellent and recommended. But overdressing leaves poor impression and kills job prospects. Most jobseekers go overdressed for interviews. Wearing ties, jackets, suit for an interview is always optional. It is not advisable to wear a blazer or suit for an interview during summer months. It makes you feel unduly warm and uncomfortable. At worst, it appears ludicrous to be attired in a dark suit when mercury levels are soaring. Ditto with ties for men: Unless well-versed with types of knots and can wear a tie yourself, do not bother to wear one. There are 18 different types of tie-knots. Wearing a tie with knot made by someone else looks extremely shabby and contributes towards a bad impression. Avoid dark clothes since they betray perspiration stains prominently.

Wearing fragrance and body deodorants

Nobody likes body odour. Employers frown at jobseekers who come loaded with body odour, regardless of the cause. Job applicants are at disadvantage here since they will have commuted long distances to arrive on time for the interview. They will most likely have used mass transit, rubbing shoulders with all and sundry. Body odours, however mild, get highlighted in a cool, air conditioned room. Jobseekers try to overcome the stench using strong fragrances and deodorants. The overall effect is horrible. Strong perfumes trigger allergies and are indicative of poor tastes. Instead, wearing fresh, cotton clothes that permit proper aeration of the body and prevent sweat accumulation are strongly recommended. Having a long shower or bath before heading for the interview is preferable. If allowed, select timings when climate outdoors will be cooler for commuting.

Carrying backpack, laptop bag

An unhealthy trend nowadays is carrying personal stuff in a backpack or laptop pack. Women carry handbags, duffels or knapsacks- which is understandable since they are essential dress accessories. Men carrying backpacks comes with inherent disadvantages for jobseekers during an interview. A backpack adds to some level of discomfort while commuting. Very often, backpacks are loaded with odours of stale food and other stuff carried regularly by the owner. Opening a backpack to hand over requested documents to the interviewer can invariably let off these smells, leaving an unsavoury taste with interviewers. Straps of bags leave undesirable creases on clothes. Poorly maintained backpacks betray how you care for stuff.

Wrong placement of mobile/ smart phone

Mobile handset or smart phone is essential survival tool nowadays. It is imperative to carry it anywhere, including for interviews. A mobile phone placed wrongly can mar prospects at interviews. Smart phones come loaded with apps that let off noisy alerts whenever somebody sends a message. Somebody may call you while being interviewed. Flashing lights come up on phones whenever there are alerts, regardless of their importance. Beeps, blips, tweets, sounds, buzzes, sound and lights serve to distract interviewers. Phones switched to silent mode tend to vibrate, also causing sound and taking away attention of both, interviewer and job seeker. It is best to switch off your mobile phone and keep it away in your trouser pocket. Ladies can consign it to their handbags. Smart phones also serve as indicators of financial status and sporting expensive or cheap ones can prove counterproductive.

Wasting an offered drink

This is a common mistake made by most jobseekers. Very often, large corporations, as part of corporate culture, offer tea, coffee or a soft drink to jobseekers. Sometimes, the intention is to relax a jobseeker before and during the interview. The free beverage may be offered while waiting turn to meet the interviewer or during the course of interview. Never refuse a drink offered during the interview, unless you have very genuine reasons. It can be considered rude and impolite. Always accept the drink with a thank you to the server. Holding the cup or glass indicates etiquette. Wasting the drink is tantamount to blasphemy: It indicates scant regard for money and resources- in this case, spent by the employer. If your drink is served in waiting area but unfinished when called for the interview- carry the cup with you.

Fidgeting, glancing around

This is another common mistake jobseekers make while awaiting turn in the waiting area of during an interview. An employer’s office will indubitably have several things that seek your attention. An accolade or honour won by your prospective employer deserves more than a mere glance. Get closer and study the exhibit. If you pick a magazine or newspaper, make sure you browse carefully through it rather than running through pages: this indicates short attention span and nervousness.

Avoiding use of washroom

Often jobseekers skip using washroom at the employer’s premises for vague fears or sheer shyness. Instead, they hold on till the urge to answer call of the nature becomes intensely unbearable. Such discomfort reflects on the face clearly and can be fatal for your job prospects. Instead, overcome this undue coyness, ask and head for the washroom. With some luck, a well maintained and equipped washroom will also allow you to give finishing touches to your appearance before meeting the interviewers. Often, the state of a washroom reflects workplace culture too.

Mishandling a business card

Never stuff a business card handed by the interviewer into your pocket or bag. It reflects haste and implies disrespect for the employer. Interviewers hand over business cards for several reasons: to observe your reaction, check how you treat it, see your eye for detail or simply to introduce themselves better. Interviewer handing a business card at the end of an interview points towards a positive outcome. Regardless of when it is handed, receive the business card with due respect, study what is mentioned for a few seconds and place it before you during the interview. Carry it out while leaving the room and keep in your pocket or bag later.

Befriending a receptionist, other staff

Attempt to get friendly or chatty with the receptionist, other staffis generally considered as unprofessional since you are wasting the company’s time and resource. You are there for an interview, not to socialize.  It is worthwhile to remember, reception or waiting areas can be under surveillance cameras that can be watched by the interviewer before or after an interview.

Complaining about anything

Complaining about anything and everything is innate human nature. Complaining about the weather, traffic snarls, delayed running of trains or just about anything is sacrilege at a job interview. Most things we complain about are beyond our control. It implies the inability to cope with stressful work and adverse situation at workplace. If drawn into a complaint, express it in form of a compliment.

More points to remember

A typical interview spans between 15 and 30 minutes. Interviewers are hard pressed for time since they gauge job seekers on various verbal and non-verbal parameters. A common mistake by most jobseekers is over-preparation. This includes getting more knowledge about a company than required for the interview. You are not required to chronicle the company’s history or know its financials like an auditor. Basic knowledge about the employer and the company’s activities is sufficient.

Grooming: the great traitor

The manner in which you speak and present yourself at an interview speaks volumes of your grooming. Faking etiquettes is impossible: your demeanour will inadvertently betray pretences at the first available opportunity. Mimicking a particular class or style looks ridiculous and will cost you the job. Worse, it can render you a laughing stock at the company, even if hired for skills. A cuss or expletive let off unmindfully is sufficient to give a clear indication of poor upbringing and social status.

Finally: Watch your mouth

It pays for employers to get you chatting. Remember, most interviewers are in dark themselves. You can read about some of the common questions that feature during HR interviews to learn tricks and tweaks to answer them. Questions aimed at getting you to chat are asked deliberately. A relaxed jobseeker is prone to doling out unsolicited information to the interviewer. Such information can include anything from personal likes and dislikes, political and religious leanings, financial standing, social status, family background. Innocuous information you part with can work against you during an interview.


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