Just like in the dating world, these mistakes won't cut it in the interview.
You finally swiped right on your perfect match — and so did they! Now that the virtual connection has been made, the last thing you want to do is show up for the date and have it go horribly wrong. Similarly, if you've made it through the grueling process of creating, posting, and submitting your resume that resulted in landing you a job interview, the last thing you want to do is tank the interview. When you stop and think about it, many parallels exist between job seeking and dating, especially when you consider the interview process and interview "deal-breakers."
TopResume presented over 300 employers and recruiters with 17 common interview mistakes and asked them to rate the seriousness of each mistake on a scale of one to five, with one being Not Serious at All and five being Extremely Serious. Below are the top 10 worst interview mistakes listed from highest to lowest weighted score:
1. Lying (4.64)
2. Appearing disinterested in the opportunity (4.44)
3. Being unprepared (4.28)
4. Arriving late (without a valid excuse) (4.21)
5. Showing poor hygiene and/or grooming (4.18)
6. Dressing inappropriately (4.04)
7. Displaying negative body language or low energy (4.00)
8. Asking inappropriate questions (4.00)
9. Badmouthing a current or former employer (3.94)
10. Coming across as arrogant or overconfident (3.88)
And what would happen if you made these interview mistakes? According to the survey, when the employers and hiring managers were asked, "Would any of these interview mistakes cause you to reject a candidate?" 92 percent replied, "Yes it would."
What happens when you find out your date lied to you? Hopefully, you'll say “bye-bye” without looking back. A hiring manager would do the same if a candidate lies during their interview.
Lying about one's experience, education, skills, current or past salary, achievements, and so on is not acceptable in an interview. If you lie, chances are you will get caught. As one recruiter shared in response to the TopResume survey, “Lying is NEVER acceptable. If we find out a candidate is lying, they are immediately removed from the interviewing process.” Another responded, “In my profession, integrity is very important. Lying is the biggest sin of all.”
Also, let's say you happen to land the job. If it's found out that you lied about any part of your resume or during the interview process, you will probably be let go. Even though the truth will set you free, freedom from job security probably isn't what you had in mind.
2. Appearing disinterested in the opportunity
Maybe you realize you're not into your date, so you act disinterested. Now imagine the tables were turned, and you are interested — but your date treats you as if they aren't interested? It's not a great feeling.
It also explains why “appearing disinterested in the opportunity” received the second-highest score in our survey. Hiring managers and recruiters are just as busy as you are, so show respect and show them you're interested in their opportunity by being attentive and responsive during the interview. And if you're genuinely not interested in the opportunity, let the company know upfront so you're not wasting anyone's time.
3. Being unprepared
While it is a bit creepy for you to come to a first date with a long list of items about your person of interest, the opposite is true for an employer when we're talking about your interview. With the level of technology and resources available to us online today, there's no excuse for not being prepared.
As one participant in the survey shared, “Assuming the candidate has a few days of notice for the interview, failure to research my company and articulate why you are interested in working for us will lead to me rejecting you.”
Another respondent also said, “It's never a good sign during a phone interview when a candidate takes extremely long pauses before answering questions. It gives the impression they're either frantically Googling for answers, or they have someone in the room trying to coach them through their response. Both of which are turn-offs.”
Biggest takeaway? Do your research beforehand — or lose out on the opportunity.
4. Arriving late
You might be able to forgive your date if they are running late, especially if they communicate with you about it. However, if you arrive late for an interview, the hiring manager might not be so forgiving.
If you are running late for an interview, it's imperative that you call and let the organization know as soon as you realize. If you genuinely have a good excuse, like getting a flat tire or being in an accident, you'll likely be given some grace and can either show up late or reschedule for a different day.
5. Showing poor hygiene or grooming
No one wants to sit across from an individual on a first date and have to do their best not to react to poor hygiene or grooming. The same goes for hiring managers and interviewers. When someone shows up to the interview with poor hygiene or grooming or looking overall unkempt, the chance of a follow-up interview is slim, even if it's for a remote position!
6. Dressing inappropriately
Similarly to arriving late, you might let your date slide if they are a bit underdressed for the occasion. Yet, if they show up with tons of wrinkles in their clothing, stained pants, and dirty shoes, you might not be so understanding. Meanwhile, you want to make sure you're dressed to impress during your interview, not pulling out the bare minimum or missing the mark completely.
“I once had an interviewee show up in gym shorts, a T-shirt, and sneakers because he had plans to play basketball with friends later. It was the shortest interview I ever did,” one respondent to the TopResume survey shared.
If you are unsure of the dress code of a company, look into their social media handles for clues, research their website, or even ask the recruiter or hiring manager if you can't find anything online. It's generally best to err on the side of caution and go with business casual or business attire. Avoid being too casual, unless you are asked to wear something specific that warrants it.
7. Displaying negative body language or low energy
On a first date, you probably want to know that your date is as excited to see you as you are to see them. If they portray negativity or low energy, however, you won't want to be around them and will assume they are not interested. Out the door you go, and if you show up with similar behavior for your interview, it's out the door you'll go.
People want to work with positive people; hiring managers want to hire personable candidates. As one respondent shared, “The most important thing for me while interviewing someone is how personable someone was. I have moved forward with candidates … who have completely tanked interviews. But if you are able to hold a conversation, smile, and bring positive energy, that is what truly matters.”
8. Asking inappropriate questions
Just like you wouldn't ask off-kilter questions during your date, asking inappropriate questions during an interview can prevent you from landing the next interview or the job. Examples of what could be considered inappropriate include asking about salary too early in the interview process, asking questions that show you didn't do your research beforehand, asking questions that aren't relevant to the position, and getting overly personal. Inappropriate comments such as off-color jokes, religious opinions, and political statements are also considered big interview no-no's.
9. Badmouthing a current or former employer
Have you ever had a first date where your date seemed to be more interested in badmouthing their ex than they did about getting to know you? Did it leave a bad taste in your mouth?
Hiring managers also become concerned when you badmouth a current or former employer and likely won't want you on their team if you do. For one, it will make them wonder what you might say about them. Second, it shows poor judgment on your part.
It's also not a good idea to criticize the company with which you are interviewing. As one respondent shared, “I would consider it very serious to serious if the candidate came into the interview criticizing the company and its practices without first asking questions [about] why those practices were put into place.” Instead, try to keep everything positive.
10. Coming across as arrogant or overconfident
No one likes to be around an arrogant or overconfident individual — on a date, in an interview, or otherwise. Hiring managers especially don't want to see arrogance in their candidates. According to another study conducted by TopInterview and Resume-Library, 70 percent of employers consider a candidate's personality to be among the top three factors in deciding whether to extend a job offer, substantially more important than education (18 percent) or appearance (7 percent).
Further, when asked which personality traits they find the least attractive, “overconfidence” came in as the most offensive. Meanwhile, when asked which personality traits they find the most attractive, employers rated “confidence” as the second-most important quality. That means you need to exude confidence without arrogance or cockiness if you want a real chance at landing the job.
Now that you know what the biggest interview mistakes are, it's time to apply what you've learned. If you have any hopes of making it past the interview phase and sitting at an office desk as an employee, avoid the above cringe-worthy interview mistakes at all costs.
Before you can impress in the interview, you need to make it through the door. Will your resume get you there? Check with a free resume review today!