By Vickie Elmer
If you want the job, don’t bring a personal photo album to the interview and don’t check Facebook, even for a second.
After all, you really need to make eye contact – and a positive impression as a smart, engaged, hard working future team member. So every year when CareerBuilder reveals the biggest interview mistakes and the strangest ones, I pay attention to what the survey of 2,201 hiring managers and recruiters shows.
This year, the craziest moments may be when an interviewer asked a candidate to “Impress me.” He lit the hiring manager’s newspaper on fire while reading it! That made sense only if that candidate was hoping to be hired as a firefighter or building safety manager.
Approximately one in five full-time workers wants to change jobs this year. So in the interest of keeping your next interview from going up in flames, here’s five tips on making a positive impression and avoiding the really weird behavior:
- Put away the personal devices. That’s right. Turn off your mobile phone. Do the same to your iPad, tablet, laptop or other tools. You don’t want them beeping or chirping a reminder to walk your dog. You don’t want to be tempted to check a text. Half of hiring managers said answering a cell phone or text was a big interview mistake – and this shows up in other interview surveys too.
- Start strong. Smile and make eye contact as you walk in – those are important non-verbal introductions. ”From the moment you walk in the door, employers are assessing how you carry yourself,” Jennifer Sullivan-Grasz, CareerBuilder’s communications vice president told me. ”Are you conveying confidence? Do you seem excited about the opportunity?
- Be interested and specific. Appearing disinterested was the top mistake cited by 55% of hiring manager. You want to seem engaged and enthused. This starts with eye contact and smiles and goes to leaning forward, actively listening and paying attention to the people in the office, from messenger to Ms. COO. It covers a strong knowledge about the employer and the people who will interview you. And it means rehearsing key answers so you give specifics on how you made a difference, made money, made a positive impression. Know stories you’d like to share and consider how they work as answers for different questions.
- Show your professionalism. Show up on time and well-dressed, carrying a couple of extra copies of your resume in your portfolio or bag. No smoking or chewing gum or even a messy pastry just before the interview. Aim for polished professionalism and an upbeat attitude; never badmouth former bosses or jobs.
- Tell the truth. Be honest and edit out a few mistakes. You do not have to share the stupidest things you’ve ever done, or give all the gory details about why you quit your job. An abridged version will do. Just do not lie about your experience or your expertise. That was the biggest interview mistake in an Express Employment Professionals survey, cited by two-thirds of those polled.
In previous posts, I’ve offered plenty of other interview advice – from the best colors to wear to a variety of words that never should be said in one. I even wrote one for Glassdoor on what to do in the hours just before the interview.
But it’s the first few minutes in that office or conference room that really count. Many hiring managers decide within 5 to 15 minutes if you’re someone they could work with as I said in a Quartz piece.
Depending on the employer, showing a sense of humor or sharing your community involvement may advance your chances of getting hired. So find smart, engaging ways to stand out. Just don’t do so in a way that screams ‘weirdo’ or ‘pararnoid’ like the candidate in the CareerBuilder survey who wore sunglasses throughout or the person who played a Star Trek character during their interview.