Skeptical job interview

Ten common ways candidates sabotage their own job searches

Peter Harris|

Everyone knows that your chances of landing the job are greatly increased if you and your potential employer hit it off and genuinely like each other right from the start. Unfortunately some candidates ensure that this doesn’t happen, often without even knowing it.

Want to guarantee a potential employer doesn’t like you right off the bat? Here are ten ways:

  • Send out as many resumes as possible to every job opportunity that you can find (whether or not you’re even qualified). And use the same resume for each one of them. Employers hate receiving piles of clearly irrelevant or unqualified applications to their jobs that are obviously part of a shotgun mass-apply campaign. They can spot a generic resume pretty quickly, but they still clog their inboxes and water down the serious applications from qualified, relevant candidates. I call this approach ‘the biggest mistake on a resume.’

  • Lie on your resume. Even if the lie is about whether you picked up those last two credits to finish your degree or not and doesn’t actually affect your ability to do the job, employers hate falsehoods on an application. You lose all credibility, because you were deceitful from the start. A large part of teambuilding is establishing trust between the team members. How can you be a trustworthy when you’ve been lying since day one?
     
    Oh, and lying on your resume about having a skill (that you don’t have) that actually is relevant to the job is far worse. That’s why companies often have three-month probationary periods for new hires. Not only will your new (soon-to-be-ex) boss dislike you, they’ll also give you the boot.

  • Make sure that you have lots of offensive or unintelligent pictures and posts online that are easily found my social media scans or Google searches. Most employers do both of these things before hiring a candidate. The recent Jobvite Social Recruiting Survey indicted what they least like to see:
    • profanity (61%),
    • poor spelling and grammar (54%),
    • illegal drugs (78%),
    • sexuality (66%),
    • drunken pictures (47%)
    • and (this is kind of a weird addition to this list, but okay) religion (26%).


    Here’s what they do want to find out about you online.


  • Always answer the phone with loud music playing a ‘cool’ expression rather than saying ‘hello.’ (S’up? and Yo!Yo! work great.) And make sure to have a witty voice mail message to give callers a chuckle. Employers haven’t met you yet, so this call is the first time that they hear your voice. Their first mental image of you is just being formed. If you don’t sound smart, friendly and professional, they aren’t going to like you very much.

  • Show up late for the job interview. Being late tells whoever you’re meeting with that your time is more important that theirs. Employers will see it as a sign that you’re either disorganized or that you didn’t care enough to do any research in advance about how long it would take to get there. They hate both of those things in potential hires.

  • Once you arrive at the interview, be rude or condescending to the receptionist. This is often the first person you meet at a company, and they will meet all of the candidates for the job you’re applying for. The hiring manager is going to ask them what they thought of you. Usually this will have just been a short, polite, even superficial conversation. But if you came across as dismissive or arrogant, your potential employer is going to hear about it and not like you very much.

  • Make sure to have an unprofessional appearance at the job interview. As I mentioned in my article about the guy who didn’t wear pants, not making the effort to look the part for a job – and even take it up a notch – comes across as disrespectful. Looking too sexy or too sloppy or being too smelly (unwashed, over perfumed, or smoky) just gives the interviewer who’s looking for the best person for the job a reason not to like you.   (Here’s what to wear.)

  • Answer (or even just pick up and look at) your cell phone during the interview. This will demonstrate to the employer your lack of interest or limited attention span. How are you going to perform on the job when you can’t even stay focused through the job interview? Plus, it’s rude to check your phone while talking to someone else. And most people don’t like those who are rude to us.

  • Blame your jerk of an ex-boss for why you need this job now. Tell the interviewer all about how your previous workplace was a terrible place to work and how you’re so glad to be outta there. Even if it’s true and your boss was a creep, you’re only going to look like a disgruntled complainer by revealing this information in the job interview. Employers will picture themselves being the target of your future rants. (You’re far better off putting a positive spin on your work experience and what you’ve learned and accomplished along the way.)

  • Seal the deal with some annoying or unprofessional follow-up. Employers like to receive a thank-you note after a job interview. It shows that you are polite and pay attention to detail. It also gives you a chance to reiterate your interest and key qualifications. What employers don’t like is a daily email from a candidate checking on the status of their application – or worse repeated phone calls and voicemails pressuring them for information or a decision. Some moderate and professional follow-up can be done, but nobody likes being harassed or stalked.


Likeability can be as important as actual ability when it comes to landing the job. This is especially true in a tight job market where employers have multiple fully-qualified candidates to choose from. When all other factors are equal, they’re naturally going to lean towards the person they get along with the best. Don’t give them a reason not to like you.


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Peter Harris
- Peter Harris on Twitter

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Category: Job interviews, Job Search Strategies, Student,
 
  • Richard Derek

    I quote the article: “Send out as many resumes as possible to every job opportunity that you can find (whether
    or not you’re even qualified). And use the same resume for each one of
    them. Employers hate receiving piles of clearly irrelevant or
    unqualified applications to their jobs that are obviously part of a
    shotgun mass-apply campaign. They can spot a generic resume pretty
    quickly, but they still clog their inboxes and water down the serious
    applications from qualified, relevant candidates. I call this approach ‘the biggest mistake on a resume.’”

    My response:

    1) Then why do so many employers want 2+ years of experience for an entry level position?

    2) Generic Resumes have been around for years and will continue to be. There is nothing wrong with a generic Resume as long as the information is there.