Interview Horror Stories from HR (plus, 5 tips)
As May graduation is upon us many students will be entering the workforce for the first time. Even if you have been swimming in the work pool for a while, let’s face it, some of us can use all the interview help we can get.
So, before you find yourself getting jittery in an office lobby and sweating through the new suit mom and dad bought you, we decided to do a little interviewing ourselves and asked business owners and human resource professionals to share their insights on hiring new candidates.
“Interviewing can be invigorating and fun when talking with a confident, qualified applicant that I can imagine contributing towards the team and the business. On the other hand, an applicant that didn’t take the time to prepare or is disrespectful is one of the biggest tests to my patience”, said Martin Chan, President of Viogee, Inc..
There are definitely some lessons to be learned from the horror stories of candidates past to help you from committing your own interview crimes.
Here are 5 examples of what to do to land the job derived from stories of what NOT to do:
1. Be Prepared: Interview amnesia is a real thing and it’s one part funny, two parts off-putting for any employer.
- Interviewer: How are you doing? My name is Martin and I’ll be interviewing you today.
- Applicant: Nice to meet you Mark.
- Interviewer: Uhh, it’s…Okay, have a seat.
- Interviewer: So what interested you in our company?
- Applicant: I’m sorry. What is the name of this company?
- Interviewer: What would you like to invest your time into professionally?
- Applicant: I don’t know. I applied to everything- which job is this again?
2. Polished Resume: A resume should accurately reflect who you are and what qualities you can bring to a company. Make sure it is your information.
I recently interviewed a candidate that used her daughter’s resume to get in the door because she thought it would be more relevant. I’ve heard about people lying on their resumes but to use a completely different person’s resume was a new all time low! Needless to say, she was not offered the position.
3. Be Respectful: Interviewers look for someone that they can imagine interacting with their clients and customers- the language they use is important!
Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for a candidate to bad mouth their previous employer. I interviewed a sharp looking guy who made a great initial impression. When I asked him what his previous employer would say about his work performance, he replied, “Honestly, we didn’t see eye-to eye. He was a bit of an ***. Sorry, I say it how it is.” Suddenly he didn’t seem so sharp; needless to say, we decided not to offer him the position.
4. Be Professional: First impressions are incredibly important and hiring managers want to be impressed!
The worst interview I ever conducted was rough from the start. After introducing myself, I asked how her drive to the office was. “It was awful”, she said. “I got so lost! I’m horrible at following directions!” Later in the conference room when I asked her what attracted her to apply she got very emotional. We finished the interview but I decided to spare my office the drama.
5. Be Aware of non-verbals: What someone says is only one thing I consider- posture, eye contact, fidgeting, someone’s dress are just a few other things to take into account.
I’ll never forget interviewing a woman that had an impressive resume but zero personality. She avoided eye contact throughout the interview and spoke in a soft tone. When I asked her what would separate her from other applicants she awkwardly stared off into space, locked her purse into a death grip and all she could muster up was, “Ummmm, I don’t know”. I guess you really can’t judge a book by its cover.
Although these slightly terrifying stories are amusing they are real situations human resource professionals have encountered more than once. Remember that the most important aspect of interviewing is to find a great match for you and the company. Hopefully, keeping that in mind will help you find the self-confidence you need to sit up straight, look your interviewer in the eye and speak with poise.
Oh, and if the hiring manager asks you how your drive to the office was just say, “Great, thanks”, because you only have one chance to make a positive first impression and the answers you give will help you demonstrate yourself as being their next rockstar employee.
Featured photo credit: Viogee, Inc. via viogee.com