We all strive to make a good impression at interviews, but when we get it wrong, our efforts to look like the perfect employee can actually make us come across as annoying. Take a look some irritating applicant behaviour and be sure that you don’t make the same mistakes:
Not directly answering the questions. Interviewers hate it when they ask a specific question and the applicant gives them an indirect answer, or goes into great detail about some unrelated topic. If you don’t understand the question, clarify it. If you feel like you’re losing focus during your answer, get yourself back on track.
Prattling on. When you’re being interviewed, keep in mind that the employer allocated a specific time slot for each person. When you talk on and on, it puts stress on the interviewer because it may make them late for the next interview. Keep your answers detailed, but concise.
Arriving too early. You should never be late to an interview, but you also shouldn’t be too early. Being ten to fifteen minutes early says that you are punctual and excited; being an hour early says that you have no place else to be.
Being overly flattering. You should definitely express an interest in the company that you’re interviewing with, but if you are over-the-top with your compliments, it comes across as phony and a little obnoxious.
Wearing too much perfume or cologne. Many people don’t like perfume or cologne, and some people are allergic to it. In fact, many organizations have adopted a scent-free policy. Be clean and fresh, but you don’t want the employer to smell you before they see you.
Fidgeting. Most people who fidget are not even aware of it. However, it is a distracting habit and it can undermine all of the great answers that are coming out of your mouth. Do some practice interviews, and eliminate all fidgeting.
Not knowing about the company. If the manager is taking the time to meet with you personally to discuss your skills and experience, the least that you can do is take the time to research the company. If you haven’t done your homework, it makes you appear unprepared and uninterested in the job.
Answering questions too generally. When interviewers don’t go into detail about their skills and experience, their answers come across as being a little weak. For example, instead of saying “I was responsible for various administrative tasks”, go into more detail by saying “I maintained all of the files, kept the database up to date using Access, all while answering the phone at the reception desk.” When you give a clearer description of the work that you did, the employer is better able to evaluate your skills.
Not being clear about future career goals. The employer may ask about short term and long term career goals in order to assess the applicant’s level of commitment, and to determine how this position would fit in with those goals. If you don’t have clear goals, the employer may believe that you’re not focused and that you’ll quit as soon as you find another whim to occupy you. Be sure to have a clear outline of where you would like to be in three to five years, and make sure that it’s related to the position.
Limited enthusiasm. If you’re not excited about the position that you’re interviewing for, you can be certain that other applicants are. If you are enthusiastic about the role, don’t hide it. This is not the time to “play it cool”. Your enthusiasm could be the one thing that sets you apart from your competition.
Interviews are not easy. There are so many rules, and each employer perceives things a little differently. However if you consider the interview from the interviewers’ point of view, and you do your best to showcase your skills and experience, you will eventually find a position that is a good match for you.
(Written by Karen Bivand)