Ohio University Office of Career Services

Interview Bloopers & How to Avoid Them by Christy R

Interview Bloopers & How to Avoid Them

The ability to write a great résumé or cover letter may help you land an interview, but that’s not all it takes to get the job. An outstanding résumé can get you in to meet with your potential employer but once you’re sitting across from them in the interview you will have to start over in order to prove that you are the best candidate.

Most interview bloopers occur because of the lack of practice and preparation. Of course even if you are well prepared, the interview may not go perfectly–we all make mistakes. However, the following mistakes can easily be avoided by developing strong interviewing skills and preparing properly for the interview.

Weak communication skills.
Non-verbal communication plays a crucial role throughout the interview. A poor handshake may weaken your chances of getting hired from the very beginning. Also remember to make eye contact, avoid fidgeting and looking at your watch. Be aware of your body language–it may not be obvious to you but the interviewer will easily notice it.

Poor verbal communication skills will almost certainly decrease your chances of getting hired. Giving a long, rambling answer to a simple question demonstrates an inability to concentrate and process relevant information. Avoid using any slang–stay professional no matter what. Listening skills are also vital: don’t spend so much time thinking about your answer that you’re not paying attention to the question.

Failing to research the company.
Be prepared to demonstrate an awareness of the company and the position for which you are applying. It’s going to be obvious that you did not do your research if you ask the interviewer to tell you more about the position or what the company does. Read the job description. Check out the company website. Know the organization. On the other hand, don’t go overboard with your knowledge. When you know something about the company, wait for the right moment to share it. Do not interrupt the interviewer to tell them you already know the information. Wait until they have finished and then add a comment to what they just shared.

Dressing inappropriately.
When in doubt, err on the side of too formal. It is unlikely that there will be a good reason to show up for the interview casually dressed. Every company has its own dress policy, and it is a good practice to dress one level above what is acceptable for company.

Being late or too early.
Never be late. Develop a habit of being on time. It’s also important not to turn up too early because it creates the impression of having too much time on your hands and being desperate for the job. Five to ten minutes early is a good rule of thumb.

Being negative.
It’s important to have the right attitude during an interview. Never complain about your current job and stay enthusiastic throughout the interview. Be careful to treat everyone you meet with courtesy, including the receptionist. Many companies watch to see how you treat their staff. It gives them an indication of how well you might fit in to the company.

Asking inappropriate questions.
At the end of the interview always take the opportunity to ask questions. By paying attention during the interview, you will ensure that you don’t ask about something that was already discussed. Take some time before the interview to think about the position, what it involves and what kind of information you need to know to learn more about it. Have several questions prepared before you go into the interview. Avoid asking questions about salary and benefits during the initial interview. These are only appropriate once you have been offered the job.

Failing to follow up.
Be persistent. Send an email and thank you note after the interview, thanking the interviewer for their time. By following up and letting the employer know that you are still interested, you will increase your chances of getting a job.

Remember, preparation and practice are key. The Office of Career Services provides you with assistance when preparing for an interview. You can find general information about interviews on our website.

The Mock Interview Program can also help you sharpen your interviewing skills. Visit our website for more information.

Make sure to check out our On Demand Presentations for additional information on Behavioral Interviews or Phone Interviews.

Get ready and the best of luck on your interview!

—Written by Anna Morlang, CareerCATS Coordinator for the Office of Career Services

Quintessential Careers
The Time of India
Career Alley

“Wow” an Interviewer by Doing Your Research Beforehand by Alyse K

One of the best ways to differentiate yourself in an interview is to show an employer that you have done your research. In order to conduct your research, a number of strategies and resources should be considered.

A good place to start when researching a company is to identify and research the industry it operates within. In doing so, you should recognize key competitors in the industry along with past and projected industry performance. Also, be aware of recent and current media events affecting the industry. A number of specific resources can be used:

  • Yahoo! Finance provides company profiles by industry of publically traded companies.
  • Hoovers.com provides information on millions of companies and their industries worldwide.
  • Vault’s Career Insider provides industry overviews and is available through Bobcat CareerLink
  • Newspapers are valuable resources that you may also choose to read in order to gain industry knowledge. Copies are available at Alden Library.
  • Google News compiles news headlines and allows you to search through a variety of sources.

Once you understand the industry a company operates within, you should research the company itself and browse through its corporate website. In doing so, a few key areas are important:

  • “About Us”: This section will generally give you a brief profile of the company and may include its history, key figures, mission, competitors, culture, locations, products, and services.
  • “Annual Reports”: Annual reports for publically traded companies summarize past performance statistics as well as provide some direction for what the company is trying to achieve in the future based.
  • “Awards and Recognitions”: Identify achievements and recognitions that the company has received based on its performance and philosophy.
  • “Recent News”: Review past and current media coverage about the company.
  • “Careers/Employees”: Learn about employee policies, programs, and selection process.

After researching the industry and company itself, networking should also be considered and taken advantage of if possible. For specific networking strategies, check out Career Services’ Networking Tools. An insider’s perspective will allow you to fill in research gaps by asking questions and find out what it is really like within a specific company.

Lastly, don’t forget to research market salaries to be prepared when asked during the selection process. See Career Services’ Job Search Resources for guidance. It is important to do this research in order to be taken seriously and be knowledgeable.

—Jeff Sfiligoj, PACE Mock Interview  Coordinator for Career Services