By Yaffa Klugerman
November 17, 2009
A new survey elaborates on common as well as surprising mistakes job applicants make on interviews which can often cost them the job.
The survey was conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management and Cosmopolitan magazine, which polled 500 SHRM members about interview dos and don'ts. The study found that the number one deal breaker was dressing too provocatively, which 67 percent referred to as a major problem, reports Business Wire. Other major mistakes included being late for an interview, speaking about a previous boss negatively, and having a cell phone ring during an interview.
Commonly-used cliches also tended to irritate hiring managers. For example, 65 percent of survey respondents advised candidates not to say, "This is my dream job." In addition, 30 percent recommended against saying, "I think outside the box."
According to The Wall Street Journal, 20 percent of survey respondents said that speaking in a too-familiar way with hiring managers can derail an interview. Mary Willoughby, director of human resources at the Center for Disability Rights in Rochester, New York, told the Journal that she once interviewed someone who commented on a sty she had near her eye. Needless to say, his approach cost him the job.
The survey also said that many job candidates ask about benefits, vacation time and schedule flexibility far too early, and Willoughby agreed. "I've had candidates ask if they can work part-time from home right off the bat," she told the Journal. "Let's figure out if you're the right person for this job before we discuss how little you want to be in the office."
Some HR managers do check social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace for background information about a job candidate, but not as many as one might think: A full 70 percent said they do not Google job applicants or check social networking sites.
In a related story, the Detroit Free Press reports that job interview questions have changed considerably. According to Phillip Kovacs, a senior consultant in human resource training and development in Michigan, new interview questions focus more on past behavior.
"Behavior-based interviewing is based on the logic that what a person has done in the past is the most reliable predictor of how they are likely to perform in the future," he told the Detroit Free Press. Interview questions, he said, "are posed in a way to elicit specific examples of what a candidate did, how they did it, and what the result was."
Instead of questions that ask about one's greatest strengths and weaknesses, Kovacs said a behavior-based question might inquire about regrettable decisions a candidate has made in the past and what could have been done differently. Another example might be elaborating on how one manages when plans are interrupted.