With Halloween around the corner, it is easy to join in the frightening festivities, but leave the scare tactics at home on the day of your interview. Earlier this year, we launched a series of blogs themed around off-the-wall interview stories we collected from our own recruiters. Among the topics, we explored immediate interview deal-breakers, outrageous interview attire choices, and how to handle insults. We thought we’d recap some of the most memorable interview horror stories and compile a list of five things you should pay close attention to if you want to rock your next interview.
1. Be honest about your qualifications
This is a very important consideration and one that our recruiters placed at the top of their deal-breakers list. The only thing worse than a poorly written or incomplete resume is a great resume or an impressive interview that later turns out to be a complete exaggeration or misrepresentation of the truth. One of the most memorable interview horror stories occurred when our recruiter recalls a candidate interviewing for a job under a different name after he had previously interviewed for the same job with the same hiring manager! The manager remembered him and immediately ended the interview. Lying will only guarantee that you will no longer be considered for that position or any other opportunities with the organization. Just don’t do it!
2. Dress appropriately
Certain companies and positions impose very strict dress codes, while others are more laid back and casual. You should definitely consider the culture of the company when dressing for an interview, but be mindful of who’s attending the interview and how your dress choice might come across to different types of people. Even if the company has a casual dress code, hiring managers surely appreciate people showing that they take some interest in their appearance. One of our recruiters recalls having a candidate show up to an interview (that included not only the hiring manager, but the Director and CTO) wearing shorts, flip-flops and a Hawaiian shirt. Let’s just say he did not make a great impression. Click here for more “what not to wear” stories from our recruiters.
3. Never badmouth your current employer
Our recruiters describe this as the perfect setup for interview horror stories and an immediate no-go for an interview. Hiring managers are undoubtedly aware that there are many unfit managers who cause employees to leave the company. According to the most recent Gallup poll of 7,272 U.S. adults, “one in two had left their job to get away from their manager to improve their overall life at some point in their career.” However, when a candidate brings up negative remarks about his or her previous boss, a few questions should be raised in the mind of the hiring manager. Questions like: “What is the other side of the story?” or “Is the candidate too sensitive, hard to work with or unable to handle contrasting opinions?” or the inevitable “Will the candidate badmouth me someday too?” Unless you’ve experienced some extenuating circumstances that caused you to look down on your current employer, try to be diplomatic if it’s brought up.
4. Have knowledge about the company or position
Our recruiters stress time and time again how important it is to “do your homework” and learn as much as you can about the company you’re interviewing with. Check reviews from previous employees or look for mentions of the company online. You might find something intriguing that’s worth brining up during the interview to demonstrate your interest in the company. In addition, researching employers helps you understand what the company’s culture is like and what they look for in a candidate. This knowledge helps you ensure that your skills and beliefs align with the company’s. It’s important for the company and the position to be a great fit for you as well, not just the other way around. According to a Millennial Branding study, “cultural fit” was the single most important determining factor when making a new hire.”
5. Wow the interviewer
We asked our recruiters to describe instances where job candidates absolutely wowed them and left a lasting, positive impression. The most popular response had to do with candidates’ personality and their ability to connect with the recruiter or hiring manager personally, not just professionally. Our recruiters believe that indicates a candidate is interested in the career opportunity, as well as the people he/she would be working with, which typically goes a long way. They also appreciate candidates who are sharp, confident in their responses, and clear and concise with examples. For more “wow” stories from our recruiters, click here. Lastly, do not forget the often overlooked thank you note. Sending a thank-you note to your interviewer after you have met demonstrates that you care about the position and are truly interested. Include details from the interview to show that you were engaged, and list ways you can solve problems that relate to the position. This will show that you can take initiative.