9 Interview Fails to Avoid: Masterson Team Members Share Bad Interview Moments
March 2nd, 2017 Written by: Molly Masterson
When you walk into a job interview, that’s your chance to dazzle interviewers with your skills, experience, personality and make your resume come to life. Unfortunately, we’ve all stumbled a time or two, making silly or even embarrassing mistakes that took us out of the running.
For 50 years, Masterson Staffing Solutions has been recruiting, screening and placing talented workers in a variety of positions across many industries. While we’ve been fortunate enough to find and work with incredible talent, our team members have seen some of those job-costing mistakes firsthand.
We recently chatted with some of our team members who are on the frontlines of screening and interviewing candidates, asking them to share some of the not-so-great things they’ve encountered during an interview.
Below we share some of the top interview fails they’ve experienced, as well as some tips to help you avoid similar mistakes that could cost you the job.
Interview Fail 1: Not dressing to impress.
As the old adage goes, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” When you arrive for an interview, your appearance plays a huge role in the first impression you give to interviewers — so you want to make it count.
“Candidates have come in wearing pajamas,” Plymouth, MN Branch Manager Lauren Martel said. “One person in particular came in with pink fuzzy leopard print pants, snow boots, and an oversized hoodie.”
“I’ve seen everything from jeans, sweatshirts and shorts to too short of skirts, … How you present yourself is the first impression — before you can even get a word out. So presenting yourself in a professional manner is extremely important,” Plymouth Area Manager J.P. Ralles added.
Waite Park, MN Area Manager Patrick Shaw also added: “I had a gentlemen come in for an interview in jeans, a t-shirt, ball cap and an unlit cigarette in his mouth,” he said. “He was completely unprepared to present himself in a professional manner.”
Tip: Dress to impress. When you’re setting up the interview, ask what the dress code is and then plan your attire accordingly.
Interview Fail 2: Poor hygiene.
Body odor, bad breath, symptoms of illness, and unkempt hair can also negatively impact the first impression you make.
“I was in an interview one time and a candidate’s booger — for lack of a better word — flew on me,” Martel recalled.
Tip: Plan ahead and take the time to shower, brush your teeth and style your hair professionally. In addition, don’t go overboard on perfume, cologne or makeup.
Interview Fail 3: Disparaging former employers or co-workers.
Speaking ill of your former employer or co-workers is a red flag for interviewers.
“A huge pet peeve of mine is if someone speaks negatively about their previous employer,” Ralles said. “I usually ask why they are looking to leave and that automatically moves the conversation in a negative direction. But if an employee can talk about wanting to broaden their horizons or end on a positive note with something they learned or liked about the employer that leaves a positive impression.”
Tip: Honesty is always the best policy here, but focus on the fact that you’re ready for a new opportunity where you can hone your skills and grow your career.
Interview Fail 4: Taking personal calls.
While it may seem like answering phone calls in the middle of an interview is an obvious no-no, it definitely happens.
Tip: Just don’t do it. Leave your phone in your vehicle, or turn it off and stow it in your purse or pocket.
Interview Fail 5: Bringing friends or family members along.
You’re the person who’s been invited to an interview. Arriving with kids, friends or other family members will turn off your prospective employer.
“I’ve had candidates bring kids with them to an interview because they didn’t have childcare,” Kimberly Markwardt, Talent Acquisition Director of Masterson’s Waite Park, MN branch, said.
Fond du Lac, WI Branch Manager Carissa Torgerson concurred with Markwardt, and added: “People have brought friends along that aren’t applying or interviewing, too.”
Tip: If you have children, make arrangements well in advance for childcare. If your arrangements fall through, call and be honest about your situation. In addition, offer a solution such as other dates and times you’d be able to make, or ask if you’re able to interview by phone or chat. If you’re honest, showing your interest and offering solutions, employers will do their best to make it work, too.
Interview Fail 6: Asking unrelated or inappropriate questions.
During your interview, there will likely come a time when the interviewer turns the question asking over to you. This is your opportunity to learn more about the position and the company, as well as further promote your skills and desire to become part of the team. But make sure your questions are relevant to the position and professional.
Below is a sampling of some of the strange or inappropriate questions our team members have been asked:
- What’s your astrology sign?
- Can I have your personal phone number?
- Can I leave and come back later?
- Can I take a cigarette break?
Tip: Prepare some relevant questions in advance so you’re ready to go when the opportunity presents itself. For example, ask them what they like most about working for the company or what the most important thing they’ll need from you so you’re successful in the position.
Interview Fail 7: Displaying bad habits or rude behavior.
As mentioned above, an interview gives you the opportunity to let your personality and experience shine. While we all have our quirks and moments, staying professional and courteous during your interview is a must.
Torgerson, along with Osseo, MN Branch Manager Kayleigh Becker, say the following are big interview no-no’s:
- Thumb sucking
- Chewing gum and blowing bubbles
- Chewing on pens
- Falling asleep in the waiting area
- Avoiding eye contact
- Slouching or bad body language
- Passing gas without excusing yourself
Tip: Some of the examples above are never-dos, while others may be nervous ticks that can come off as rude or strange. Again, taking the time to properly prepare for the interview is key for boosting your confidence and calming your nerves. Consider asking a friend to help you practice. This will get you comfortable talking to someone about your skills — and the opportunity to find out if you’re exuding any off putting behaviors.
Interview Fail 8: Not doing your homework.
If you want to nail your interview, you have to put time into preparing for it. Failing to prepare for the questions you’ll be asked about your interest in the position, your experience and what you bring to the table makes it more difficult for you to find the exact words you want in the moment.
“I was interviewing for an assistant manager in a sporting goods store,” Shaw recalled. “I had talked to the candidate twice on the phone before setting up an in person interview. On paper the candidate was perfect. The right experience, the skills needed, and love of the outdoors.”
“When we sat down for the in-person interview, he couldn’t remember any detail from his past jobs, he couldn’t reference any product knowledge,” he continued. “I tried making small talk to get him back on track, but it didn’t happen.”
Tip: Research the company, re-read the job description, and study up on commonly asked interview questions and practice your answers. Also, as mentioned above, prepare some of your own questions, too.
Interview Fail 9: Getting too personal.
Showcasing your personality, hobbies or interests can add great depth to your interview. But getting too personal can have a negative impact. Interviewers want to determine if your personality, experience and potential are the right fit for the position and the company — not get a deep dive into your personal life.
Tip: Share personal experiences or stories that have a relevant connection to the job, company or industry. For example, tell them about an experience that led you to pursue a career in the industry. Be careful not to share anything too negative. Your goal in an interview is to talk yourself up and inspire interviewers to want to hire you.
You Can Ace Your Next Interview
Job interviews are daunting. But you worked hard to get that opportunity. Take care in how you prepare, dress, act, carry yourself and deliver your answers to ensure you’re leaving a positive lasting impression with interviewers. Below are some helpful resources that can help you properly prepare for an interview, so you can nail — rather than fail — your next interview.
- 14 Commonly Asked Interview Questions & How to Answer Them
- Interview Prep: 8 Tips & Tricks to Help You Ace Your Job Interview
- Interview Dos & Don’ts: 16 Tips for a Successful Job Interview