Job interview: woman looking chagrined, interviewer looking unimpressed

The five worst things you can do in a job interview

Elizabeth Bromstein|

What would you guess is the worst possible thing you could do in a job interview? The list is actually pretty endless, if you just take the question at face value. Here are a potential top five:

    1. Bite the interviewer
    2. Pull out a weapon and rob the place
    3. Take off all your clothes and dance on the desks
    4. Yell “ARE YOU LOOKING AT ME!?” at everyone you pass
    5. Break into the interviewer’s office beforehand, hide under the desk and tie their shoelaces together.(My boss points out that this is technically “before” the interview” and not “during.” I say he’s being persnickety)

But what we really mean when we ask this question is, what is the worst possible thing you could do in a job interview that you might actually do?

New research from Express Employment Professionals, the largest franchised staffing firm in North America, has found the answer. The findings are from the 2014 edition of the “Canada Employed” survey of 22 Express franchises across Canada, in which respondents were asked to name the “top five worst things an applicant can do during an interview.”

The worst thing you can do? Lie.

Here are those top five:

    1. Lying about experience
    2. Checking their phone
    3. Arriving late
    4. Answering a phone call
    5. Acting arrogant

See the full list below.

“It takes a great deal of effort to secure an interview for most jobs, so it baffles me that anyone would throw away that opportunity by lying or arriving late. But believe it or not, these things happen,” said Bob Funk, CEO of Express, according to a press release. “You won’t get a mulligan in an interview, so applicants must do their best to get it right the first time.

“My advice is: Don’t even think about answering your phone, texting on your phone, or even looking at your phone. In fact, turn your phone off before entering the building. If an employer sees you can’t take an interview seriously, I promise he or she won’t trust that you can take the job seriously.”

There’s also an “America Employed” report from the same company, which surveyed 115 Express franchises across the nation. The results are slightly different. You can see < href="http://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/2104999" target="_blank">that list here.

One significant difference is the number of Canadian employers who hate liars vs American employers, a full 79% of Canadians say lying about experience is the worst thing you can do, vs 62% of Americans.

Also, “Drinking” is absent from the Canadian top five, and only comes in as the sixth worst thing you can do, while it’s No. 4 on the American list. I don’t think this means that more Americans are showing up drunk for interviews, or that more American interviewers are anti-alcohol, however. It was actually named the worst thing by almost the same number of people (47% Canada, 46% America). I think it means that more Canadian employers are bothered by phone checking, which is the one that replaced it in the top five, than by drinking.

The differences can possibly be explained by the larger U.S. sample group.

The no nos are all pretty obvious. They also include badmouthing a former boss or co-worker, not doing your research, and smoking. Read on for the full list.

The worst things a applicant can do during a job interview in Canada

    Lie about experience 79%
    Check phone 63%
    Arrive late 58%
    Act arrogant 53%
    Answer a phone call 53%
    Drink (alcohol) 47%
    Badmouth boss or co-worker 47%
    Not do homework/research 16%
    Smoke 16%
    Bad eye contact 16%
    Bring a friend or relative 16%
    Text a message 5%
    Dress inappropriately 5%
    Use improper language or slang 5%
    Chew gum 5%
    Act nervous 5%
    Not know weaknesses 5%


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