It doesn’t matter how charming you are over the phone if, when the time comes for an in-person meeting, your enthusiasm doesn’t translate. Body language and overall behavior can (and often do) tell a whole different story.
Curious about which job interview mistakes are truly unforgivable, we asked 12 entrepreneurs and members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) to share how a potentially great candidate can ruin his or her chances. Their best advice is below.
1. You Constantly Interrupt
I’ve held multiple interviews where the interviewee is qualified for the position and seems like a great fit. But if he or she interrupts me throughout the interview, he or she simply won’t get hired. It shows a huge level of disrespect and immaturity and tells me right away you can’t work on a team. If we can’t get through a simple interview, how can I expect to put you in front of a client?
2. You Still Behave Like You’re in College
College is a great time to experience new things, try out different philosophies, and interact with distinct modes of thought. At some point, however, it’s time to get real. Professionals, unlike college students, don’t have the luxury of being indignant or offended at everything. If someone goes on a politically or socially charged tirade during the interview, even if I agree, he or she is out!
3. You Fail to Acknowledge Weaknesses
Everyone wants to put his or her best foot forward, but a boastful refusal to acknowledge that there’s no area in which you are not an expert is a huge red flag, especially when it’s something I am an expert in, and I can plainly see you’re talking garbage. I want to employ the right people, and I don’t mind investing in training, but I won’t hire someone who can’t acknowledge when he or she needs help.
4. You Lack Familiarity With the Company or Product
If an excellent candidate fails to have a decent understanding of our company’s mission or the product we sell, then it’s an absolute deal breaker. We recently interviewed a really great technical candidate referred to us by a trusted source. When asked a basic question about his experience with the product, we learned that he hadn’t even created a (free) account yet.
5. You Show Up Late for the Interview
I’ve had this happen on a few occasions. Each time I’ve gone forward with the interview, but probably should have sent them home immediately. At the end of the day, regardless of how qualified you are for a position, if you can’t find a way to get to your interview on time, you’re not someone I want to hire. I believe it simply shows that you didn’t do everything in your power to be prepared.
6. You Don’t Clearly Answer the Question at Hand
When interviewing, I look for someone who remembers the question and answers it specifically, without offering information that isn’t needed. For example, I like to ask, ‘Who were your previous three bosses, and how would they grade you from one to 10?’ Sometimes people just tell you where they worked or say, ‘they would rate me highly.’ It shows a lack of clear communication.
7. You Speak Poorly of Past Employers
Candidates who trash talk their past employers during an interview illustrate their poor judgment. Even if an employer was terrible, an interview is not the time to talk about it. We could be friends with the former employer. And, it shows that if and when the candidate leaves our organization, he and she may choose to air our company’s dirty laundry (no company is perfect).
8. You Respond With, “I Don’t Do That”
If a candidate states that he or she will not perform a particular task, I put him or her in the ‘no’ category. The Leading Niche is a team-oriented environment, so no one is too senior or above a task that helps move the company forward. This is a deal breaker because that type of attitude could poison our culture, where others are team players.
9. You Are Way Too Nervous
I’ve had interviews with candidates who allowed themselves to get too worked up, and even had shaking hands and an intense stutter. Interviewing someone who is obviously smart but can’t get past his own nervousness indicates he can’t handle pressure and isn’t adaptable. In today’s fast paced environment, these qualities are essential.
10. You Seem Entitled
Confidence is different than entitlement. Confidence is explaining why you are the best fit for a job, and what you have accomplished that would benefit the position. Entitlement is saying why you are so great and how you deserve the job. Employees need to show they are hungry and willing to work for it, rather than that they are owed the job, the salary, or a title without the experience behind it.
11. You Don’t Take Our Mission Seriously
An essential part of every interview I conduct is going over my company’s mission and core values, point by point. For me, this is the ultimate barometer to determine if a candidate fits into our company culture. If the candidate’s eyes glaze over, I know it’s a no. If the candidate sits up straighter, locks eyes with me, and genuinely relates to what I’m saying, I know we can move forward.
12. You Dress Incorrectly
I don’t care if you code all day or speak in front of hundreds. Dress to impress, and change your look based on the culture. As Coco Chanel said, ‘Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they remember the woman.’ Dressing poorly is just distracting, no matter how brilliant or becoming you truly are.