Seven Interview Errors

  1. If you use a resume writer don’t use one who was recommended by a colleague in the same field.  One day, while looking for a director of Marketing for a janitorial services company, I received three resumes, from graduates of the same B-School, all with the identical format and structure.  It was clear that the same person had prepared all three resumes.  If a marketer cannot market herself, how is she supposed to convince me, or my client, that she can market them?
  2. Just because it is an e-mail does not mean that it is not a business letter.  While in most cases this pertains to junior-level candidates, there have also been seasoned professionals who just don’t get it.  The way you represent yourself is exactly the way you will represent your employer.  When I receive, via e-mail, a resume and the accompanying e-mail is blank (not a blessed word!), only has on it “Please call,” or was clearly never proofread, the sender comes across as an amateur not a professional.  No one hires amateurs.
  3. A candidate shows up a few minutes early for an interview, is dressed professionally, no perfume/cologne, shakes hands firmly, smiles, says all the right things as far as the pleasantries are concerned, sits down and can’t give a straight answer to a straight question.  I actually had a client call me, following an interview with a lead candidate, who told me that she could not hire the woman because she didn’t stop talking.  No one wants to hire the person who, at a staff meeting, is going to talk endlessly without saying anything, taking forever to get to the point.  Get to the point!  If you don’t do it in an interview, you won’t do it in meetings.
  4. Misunderstanding technology.  It’s called “social media” for a reason.  You are socializing.  Yes, the local bakery will tweet its customers announcing that the pastries have just come out of the oven and, literally, get them while their hot!  But candidates are looking for jobs not baked goods.  Yes, the best way to find a job is through networking and Twitter and Facebook were made for networking.  But your real friends already know that you are looking and your social media contacts, who don’t know you, are not going to recommend you because of a tweet.  When someone tells me that their major networking is being done on-line, it’s a problem.  (The exception is LinkedIn.  It’s a professional networking site, not a social networking site.)
  5. Thank you notes for being interviewed are a requirement and can be deadly.  Two candidates, whose references I was in the middle of checking, lost job offers because they sent my clients (two different clients) e-mails, thanking them for the interviews, saying all the correct things, but with a plethora of typographical, spelling and grammatical errors.  If you are sloppy personally, you are sloppy professionally.  No one hires a slop!
  6. I am always amazed that people know not to bring up salary but they have no idea that they should keep their personal lives out of job interviews.  That’s because they forget where they are.  No matter how nice the interviewer is, she is not your friend.  She has a job to do.  She’s trying to find out why she should not recommend you for a job.  If a candidate starts complaining about her spouse, children or in-laws, she’s toast.  Keep your private life private and your professional life professional.  If a candidate has a real issue, a special-needs child or a parent with Alzheimer’s, that’s one thing and something that needs to be raised.  However, if the candidate is frustrated because hubby won’t clean up after himself, that’s an entirely different matter.  For example, one client wanted to make it clear that they had a small office, everyone sat in the same room, so desks had to be orderly and no one wore perfume. When it was raised, the candidate said, “Oh, I’m very neat.  I wish my husband were!  A don’t worry about perfume, I only wear a dab and everyone likes it!”
  7. Which brings me to my last point: LISTEN!  The client said “no perfume.”  “No perfume” mean “no perfume,” not “a dab of perfume is fine.”  When candidates don’t listen, when they interrupt, they don’t get invited back.  Period.  Ever.