In our line of work we encounter a lot of amazingly talented individuals. We have seen candidates who were so strong and impressive that they got the job after one short telephone interview. Unfortunately in our time doing recruiting we have also encountered some interview situations that look like they are straight out of "Office Space". Below are some real life interview mishaps we encountered along with some advice on how to avoid them.
Incident: A candidate had a phone interview. He decided to completely blow off the call, and when reached later by RedStream to find out what happened, he told us "I had something else to do."
Advice: If you are no longer interested in taking a job interview, whether it is because you had second thoughts about pursuing the job or you got another job offer, tell the recruiter or interviewer. They will likely not be mad and will probably be grateful that you were professional enough to alert them to your cancellation. Interviewers block off parts of their days for interviews, so if you no-show, that is 30, 60, 90 minutes etc. that they could be doing something else. Completely no-showing guarantees that you will be blacklisted from that company or recruiting firm forever.
Incident: A candidate arrived 45 minutes late for a job interview because the subway train they were on encountered massive delays.
Advice: Either leave as early as possible or take a cab. We always recommend that you give yourself twice as much time as needed to get to the interview. Public transportation is unreliable and often problematic. If it ends up working correctly and you arrive early, just walk around the neighborhood of the interview site or find a quiet spot to review your interview prep notes. But be careful, you don't want to arrive at the office too early…
Incident: A candidate arrived 40 minutes early for an interview. The hiring manager had just arrived at the office herself and was in the middle of a meeting with her staff. The early arrival put her in a bit of a bad mood. We can't say for sure if that single handily eliminated the candidate from the job, but it certainly did not help his cause either.
Advice: We recommend arriving 10-15 minutes before your scheduled time. By that time the people who will be interviewing you are either ready for you or are about to be. You never want to be late for an interview, but showing up extremely early is often just as unprofessional.
Incident: One candidate interviewing for a Start Up took the work culture there a little too far and showed up for the interview in shorts. He was promptly eliminated from contention for the position.
Advice: We have all heard the stories about certain Silicon Valley companies eliminating people who dared to wear a suit to an interview and we have our doubts about how true those anecdotes are. Unless the person inviting you for the interview tells you that you don't need to dress up, always come in professional attire. If a company does not hire you solely because you came looking professional for the job interview, you probably don't want to work there anyways.
Incident: A candidate kept looking at his phone in the interview.
Advice: TURN IT OFF! This should go without saying, but for some reason we find we need to remind people regularly. Whatever Facebook post your friend made will still be there for you to "Like" after the interview.
Incident: During a phone interview a candidate admitted that he had not been trained properly in the skill set that was most important for this job. On top of that, he started crying.
Advice: Firstly, don't ever get emotional during an interview. Should you be funny? Yes. Professional? Yes. Tearing up? Never.
If there is something you do not know or an area you do not feel strong in try to turn it into a positive. Point out how you have adapted to new work cultures or skill sets in other jobs. Highlight how you are familiar with skills similar to the one that is being focused on in the question. And most importantly, do not throw your previous employer under the bus. That will tell the interviewer that you like to pass blame around and avoid responsibility. Instead of saying that you were not trained properly, re-word that to say that you were not given enough opportunities to learn skill XX and that is why you are now applying for a new job.
A lot of this advice may seem self-explanatory . But interviews can bring out the best (or worst) in people. Here is hoping there are less bad interviews in 2016!