Surprising ways candidates sabotage their own chances of being hired

I was once hiring a graphic designer to join the web team for our content marketing department. As this was an entry-level creative position, the candidates were mostly younger people, university students and recent grads.

I interviewed the applicant who had the strongest resume. He had solid design skills, an impressive list of content management, software, and email marketing applications, as well as an impressive portfolio.

So far so good. However, he did not get the job. The trouble is that he showed up to the job interview – at our business casual corporate office – wearing cargo shorts, a t-shirt, and hiking shoes. He was also chewing gum.

You can’t do that. On the creative team, in summer, at that particular workplace, you could get away with wearing shorts to work on a hot day. (I wouldn’t recommend it, but it wouldn’t have raised too many eyebrows.) But you can’t wear shorts to a job interview. Or a t-shirt.

Your appearance at a job interview matters. Dressing up signals to the employer that you care about the position and you are willing to put some effort into making a professional first impression. If you don’t even do that when you’re trying to get hired, what does that say to the employer about your work ethic and motivation?

The gum-chewing, shorts-wearing candidate was talented, but he came into the interview with a “this is who I am, take it or leave it” attitude. We left it.

The Canadian unemployment rate may be low right now, which makes jobs easier to come by, but you still have to successfully interview for most of them. A new survey from the team at Express Employment reveals some of the rather shocking ways that candidates are blowing their own chances of being hired.

What’s worse than cargo shorts? One employer said, “A lady showed up wearing bunny slippers.”

Another told this story. “I was interviewing a registered nurse who ate through the entire interview. First, a banana…then, a jar of peanuts…then, an apple! All while I was asking her questions. At the conclusion of the interview, she handed me her banana peel, apple core and empty peanut jar to throw away.”

Okay. Those are particularly bizarre behaviours, and most of us know enough to wear pants, shoes, and not to eat throughout the job interview. The survey participants also revealed some more common ways that candidates sabotage their own chances of being hired.

Worst Job Interview Habits

  • 85% report a candidate “showing up late.”
  • 83% report a candidate with “inappropriate clothing.”
  • 49% report a candidate with “inappropriate language.”
  • 48% report a candidate “eating or chewing gum.”
  • 39% report a candidate “responding to text messages.”
  • 37% report a candidate “answering a phone call.”
  • 31% report a candidate “bringing a child into the interview.”
  • 31% report a candidate “bringing a friend into the interview.”
  • 26% report a candidate “bringing a parent into the interview.”
  • 24% report a candidate being “under the influence” of drugs or alcohol.

Bottom line. Show up for the interview on time and dress the part. Be polite and professional. Don’t bring another person with you or use your phone or eat during the meeting. And if you don’t already know that you shouldn’t be drunk or stoned, you probably need more help than an online career advice article can offer. (Does anyone else find that 24% staggeringly high? If that’s the case, you can beat out one quarter of the applicants just by being sober.)

You can view the full survey from Express Employ here.

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