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Eight weirdest interview mistakes

By Laura Morsch
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( -- In the quest to create a stellar résumé and cover letter, some job seekers appear to be throwing common sense to the wind.

Rita Gunther McGrath, an associate professor at Columbia Business School, discovered this firsthand when she was jarred awake by a 2 a.m. phone call to her hotel room while attending an academic conference. It was a Korea-based job applicant.

"I thought surely he must have mixed up his time zones," she said. "Imagine my surprise when his response was, 'Oh, no, I called now because I knew you wouldn't have any other commitments.' Needless to say, that résumé went right into the garbage bin."

In a recent survey, hiring managers shared hundreds examples of applicants who made glaring mistakes that cost them the job. Here are eight of the strangest, and some common-sense tips to help job seekers survive the interview:

Mistake 1: Getting too comfortable

It's advisable to stop in the bathroom for a quick appearance check before an interview, but if you take your grooming public, you won't be looking so professional. "One candidate brushed her hair in the middle of the interview," a hiring manager lamented.

In an interview, every move you make is being watched and judged. Make sure you never let your professionalism slip.

Mistake 2: Acting arrogant

"I had one gentleman who came into the interview and admitted he fluffed his résumé," a hiring manager recalled. "But he reasoned that because he is attractive and has a brother in the IT field, he should be given the open position."

Hiring managers are looking for not only the most qualified candidates, but also ones that will fit in well within their corporations. No one wants to work with an arrogant employee.

Mistake 3: Letting nerves take over

One hiring manager said he had a candidate throw up on him. Another had an interviewee laugh nervously and spit out a false tooth.

If you get exceptionally nervous during interviews, take a few minutes in the car or in the restroom to breathe deeply and visualize how you want the interview to proceed. Continue to take deep breaths throughout the interview to help you relax.

Mistake 4: Shady dealings

Some job seekers offer too much information about their checkered pasts or dubious behavior. One apartment management company interviewer recalls: "I had someone tell me they could see nothing wrong with charging more for rent than the owner said to charge. That way they could make some extra cash and no one would know."

While you shouldn't be too forthcoming, it doesn't pay to lie. Your background check will reveal anything unflattering from your past.

Mistake 5: An apathetic attitude

Sure, you may be looking for and interviewing for other jobs -- but you don't need to flaunt that in an interview. Keep your attention focused on the current job, and keep the other applications out of the interview -- it could hinder your chances.

"In one interview, the candidate spelled out all the places he had interviewed who had not offered him the job," a hiring manager said. "It really made us wonder why we were interviewing him, and hurt his chances for an offer from us."

Mistake 6: Relying on liquid courage

It's one thing to share a pitcher of beer with co-workers at happy hour. It's quite another to show up at an interview with a bottle in your hand and finish it off in the reception area, as one brazen job seeker did. Showing up at an interview drunk or high casts serious doubts on your character.

Mistake 7: Being too upfront

"I once asked a candidate how he would handle three clients coming in at the same time while two phones were ringing," one hiring manager said. "The candidate responded by hiding under his desk."

While everyone has weaknesses, always keep it positive in an interview.

Mistake 8: Being too dependent

Would you consider showing up at your interview with your pet in tow? One interviewee brought his dog along to the meeting... and wanted to talk about nothing but his pet.

Arriving at the interview with your parents, children, friend, spouse or pet shows a serious lack of independence and professionalism. Attend the interview alone.

© Copyright 2007. All rights reserved. The information contained in this article may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority

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