Hiring Managers Share What Not To Do in an Interview

January 21, 2004 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Using profanity to describe a previous boss and eating a sandwich during the interview were among the best examples of what not to do during an interview.

A sample of more 400 hiring managers surveyed by CareerBuilder.com in December shared some of those candidates that stuck out in their mind – but for all the wrong reasons. Be it telling the hiring manager about your personal problems or even forgetting to wear your shoes for the interview, the survey focused on five areas candidates need to be especially sharp on to avoid being passed over for the job: communication, performance, attitude, appearance and honesty.

When it came to communication issues, hiring managers mostly were down on some candidates’ lack of effective communication ability, citing poor language skills and a tendency to reveal too much or too little information. But some of the real “winners” were:

  • “The candidate said he had days he could not give 100%.”
  • “He spoke to me as if he was in prison –very bad grammar andmanners.”

Answering your cell phone during an interview and not knowing anything about the job being offered definitely does not speak highly of a candidate’s professionalism, the survey found, finding performance is not judged well through a second hand personal phone call.

Some applicants simply did not have the right frame of mind when they sat down in the interview. One hiring manager told of one candidate who “asked me to speed up the interview because he had a lunch date,” while another hiring manager said one candidate’s enthusiasm for the new job left much to be desired: “He told me the only reason he was here was because his mother wanted him to get a job. He was 37.”

While beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, candidates should do more to remember that hiring managers are holding the job they want and appearance can be a major factor in getting the job and getting passed over. Of course, when put up next to “a woman came in with open toe shoes and a slit on her dress up to her backside” or a guy that “showed up in jeans and a t-shirt with dirty fingernails and looked like he just woke up” smelling like alcohol there really is no question of who’s getting the job.

Perhaps the best policy is honesty, especially if involves previous “indiscretions.” Hiring managers state that candidates who lie or give the impression that they are dishonest in any way are dismissed, but some whoppers are worth keeping around for the water cooler:

  • “One guy mentioned his arrest during the interview after stating onhis application that he had never been arrested.”
  • “One guy asked if we drug-tested and if we gave advance notice (we are a drug treatment facility).”

The CareerBuilder survey, “Plans for 2004,” was conducted from November 18 toDecember 4, 2003 of more than 400 hiring managers.