How To Avoid Key Job Interview Blunders

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chool teacher sitting at a desk with wrong addition on blackboardHow soon do you have to make a good impression during an interview? One survey claims it is less than five minutes. At the best, you have 15 minutes to make a strong impression before being blackballed by the employer.

The website said it surveyed 2,201 hiring managers and human resource professionals across industries and company sizes to determine those results.

The top most detrimental blunders candidates make in interviews are often the most common, according to employers:

  • Appearing disinterested – 55 percent
  • Dressing inappropriately – 53 percent
  • Appearing arrogant – 53 percent
  • Talking negatively about current or previous employers – 50 percent
  • Answering a cell phone or texting during the interview – 49 percent
  • Appearing uninformed about the company or role – 39 percent
  • Not providing specific examples – 33 percent
  • Not asking good questions – 32 percent
  • Providing too much personal information – 20 percent
  • Asking the hiring manager personal questions – 17 percent

Some of those issues have been addressed here at The use of cell phones is “verboten” in any business meeting, especially a job interview.

Appearing disinterested or arrogant can be a simple case of bad body language. In that case, human resources personnel can often receive “thousands of non-verbal cues within the first minute of meeting,” according to one article.

Communications expert Mark Jeffries, interviewed at, said you can provide some personal information and get personal information about the person interviewing you but don’t go overboard. He counseled, “Talking about Fido, or your kids, is a good way to bond during a job interview, but don’t get too personal and try not to come off as a greedy stalker.”

The article added, “While many career experts tend to suggest you keep personal matters out of any job interview, Jeffries offered a contrarian opinion. ‘Apparently, if you ever are unlucky enough to get kidnapped, the advice is always talk about your family and your personal life, then it allegedly becomes harder for them to harm you. Same in an interview, feel free to tell them a little about you personally. Let them get to know you. After all they will have to work with you every day and you want them to like the thought of having you around – 80 percent business, 20 percent personal.'”

Some might disagree on his next piece of advice. “When trying to bond with a hiring manager, doing a bit of digging about the person before you meet them is also is good idea, but don’t let on about all you’ve dug up,” Jeffries advised to create what he calls a “non-business bond.” He suggested working into conversation a casual comment about a shared interest but let the hiring manager take the lead.

Virginia Tech offers some good personal appearance tips at its career website to avoid dressing inappropriately for an interview. (The advice works regardless of how many years it has been since you finished college.) Some of the job interview attire tips it suggests are:

  • If you are primarily remembered for your interview attire, this is probably because you made an error in judgment!
  • Appropriate attire supports your image as a person who takes the interview process seriously and understands the nature of the industry in which you are trying to become employed.
  • Dressing nicely and appropriately is a compliment to the person you meet, so if in doubt, err on the side of dressing to a higher standard than you might need to.
  • Even if you are aware that employees of an organization dress casually on the job, dress more formally for the interview unless you are specifically told otherwise by the employer. The interview is a professional meeting and thus a more formal occasion than daily work.

By Keith Griffin