Mistakes That Totally Screw Up An Interview

You know everything, but the following surprising slips may not be on your radar.

You know to turn off your ringer and dress to impress, but the following surprising slips may not be on your radar.

Even smart chicks with killer resumes can blow an interview. And since calling and asking why you didn't get the job isn't an option, Careerbuilder.com did a national survey of hiring managers to find out the most common mis-steps candidates make. We skipped over the obvious disqualifiers-only a bonehead would read a text while meeting with a potential boss-and focussed on four you probably haven't heard of.

You're kind of cocky

Confidence-i.e., appearing composed and sure of yourself as opposed to like a nervous wreck-is always an appealing quality. Arrogance, on the other hand, made 51 percent of employers want to kick an applicant out of their office on the spot. No matter how much of a superstar you were at your last job, don't make it sound as if you single-handedly pulled off every amazing accomplishment. "Employers want people who work well with others, and acting arrogant makes them think you can't," says Paul Powers, Ph.D., author of Winning Job Interviews. Show that you're a great co-worker by saying something like, "My team worked on this award-winning project, and I handled this part..." Then follow up with a detailed description of what you did well.

Little things like bringing a latte with you, pushing aside a pile of papers on an interviewer's desk so you can plunk down your portfolio, or sneaking a glance at the clock can also make you seem self-important-as if your time and stuff are more valuable than theirs are.  Another minor goof they see as arrogant: leaving your sunglasses on top of your head.

You didn't say these two words

Of course you don't want a potential boss to think you're gunning for the role of office kiss-ass, but playing it too cool can wreck your chances. 55 percent of bosses surveyed said a lack of enthusiasm is one of the biggest mistakes that a candidate make. Seriously.

"A lot of us worry that if we're too eager, we'll look desperate and, therefore, less desirable," explains Alexandra Levit, author of They Don't Teach Corporate In college. "But we can end up seeming like we don't care." Get the right message across by using words like 'exciting' and 'interesting'. To show you mean it, read up on the company's history and the industry in general before the interview, and slip some of the things you learned into the conversation.

Your answers sound familiar

Most of us have gotten this wellmeaning advice from a career counsellor: when you're asked "What's your biggest weakness?" throw out something that's actually good, like "I'm a workaholic" or "I am a perfectionist and won't stop until something's done right". Yeah...whatever! 34 percent of interviewers said they definitely notice when you respond to their questions with tired cliches. It can be a deal breaker because they think you are hiding something or just bad at communicating, says Nancy Schuman, author of The Job Interview Phrase Book.

Granted, you don't want to confess anything truly incriminating, but it's okay to reveal a real weakness, provided you follow it up with how you're working to correct it, like, "I can get disorganised when I'm swamped, so I recently took a class on creating a more efficient workspace. It made a huge difference."

You fail the question test

There are only a few minutes left in the interview, and you get what seems like a throw-away: "Do you have any questions for me?" Answering "I don't think so" can mess up the awesome impression you just made, since 34 percent of bosses said they're turned off when candidates don't ask smart questions. Why? Doing so shows that you've been paying attention and indicates that you're evaluating them too-not just jumping at the first job opening you hear about, says Schuman.

Prove you're a good listener by requesting that the interviewer elaborate on something she said earlier. And use this all-time great inquiry: "What type of people excel here?" It never fails to impress!

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