Continuing on the thread of the myriad mistakes I’ve made in the search for employment, both during and after my post secondary degree, this post is a guide on how to sabotage an interview in three easy steps!
The first and easiest step: Don’t have anything prepared!
I recently read somewhere that having scripted talking points plotted out before an interview is a bad idea. The author claimed that unless you were a solid actor, your points would seem wooden and lifeless. Moreover, you might seem inflexible and not actually answer the questions being asked. I don’t remember much else from the article or even if this was the main point. While there is most certainly a difference between having stock answers prepared and being prepared in general, I think having a stock answer works brilliantly if you’re able to pick them apart in the interview to use key phrases, like Dr. Frankenstein but without the mess.
I suppose there are benefits to walking into an interview without talking points scripted out. For example, you can sit awkwardly thinking of how to answer a question with a chorus of “umm” and “ah” to serenade your interviewer’s ear drum. This could lull them into a sense of calm security, which they then associate with you and result in your imminent hiring!
This situation is highly unlikely. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve thought myself ready to be interviewed when an obvious question like “What’s your five year plan?” comes unexpected and makes me aware of how maybe I didn’t spend enough time preparing for the interview. In these instances, my mind flashes to a scene from a television show where a boss explains how to handle such situations.
“Repeat the question they just asked you,” he says, “it makes them think you’re listening and gives you time to formulate a response!”
This works well. Really well. And it saves the chorus of “umm” that can arrive so readily. Don’t get me wrong there’s nothing inherently bad about “umm” I just feel it makes me sound inarticulate and short on things to say. “Ummm” is great for making me feel like I’ve poorly represented myself and haven’t adequately prepared, making it a fantastic first step in failing an interview!
The second mistake: Don’t talk about yourself
In my first interviews I had the (mistaken) impression in the past that interviewers only want to know about your credentials and skill sets as they apply to the job. As such, there have been interviews where I’ve been thoroughly surprised to have to talk about myself at some length. This situation is very similar to the one above and can result in the same refrain of “umm” and “ahhhh” noises.
From what I’ve been able to gather, people looking to hire are not only looking at what you’ve done and what you’re able to do but who you are as a person. The only way to find this out is by you telling them. This may not be the best time to tell them about the fiasco of the office Christmas party and how long it took to clean up the mess.
The third mistake: Don’t do any research
While this could have been lumped in with “Don’t Have Anything Prepared” I felt it warranted its own section since this can affect the interview before it starts. If you really want to bungle an interview, not being prepared and not doing research go together like beer and nachos. A delicious beverage and food combination aside, neglecting basic research is a wonderful way to flub an interview. Here are a few examples I’ve experienced:
An HR department called me and scheduled an interview for the next day. The kind person on the phone gave me the address and some information and said she would e-mail me the rest. For whatever reason, I never did receive that e-mail. I didn’t realize until I arrived at the location that I had no idea what the business name was (I assumed they would be the only occupant at the address- I was wrong), or what they did. I knocked on a few doors and was directed to the right location by some very friendly staff at a completely different company. The situation worked out better than I could have hoped, but walking into that interview I felt about as confident as a grade niner on the first day of high school.
There was another interview I had a few years ago for a day camp. The person who phoned me gave me some relevant information, and was very helpful, so the most research I did was to find out the busses I needed to take to get to the place. When asked what I knew about the area (and there was a lot to know) my mind reeled. The best answer I came up with was
“I think I saw a swimming pool on my way here…?”
The day camp was in community housing where many of the occupants were New Canadians in an area that had high levels of gang activity in the past, and I ensured my perspective employer knew that there was a swimming pool up the street. This wasn’t exactly a ringing endorsement for me. Especially when I had listed “Research Skills” on my resume.
These are merely two examples of how to give a terrible first impression in an interview. When you’ve got the Internet at your disposal, there’s no excuse for not looking up things like the history of your potential employer. Thus, avoiding research is also an easy way to look like the worst candidate for the job and a sure fire way to botch an interview!
What was the worst interview you’ve ever had? Why? What’s the best interview tip anyone ever gave you? What’s the worst interview tip you’ve been given? Do you think it’s a shame Jpod was cancelled?