I have been talking with hundreds of job applicants, both graduates and undergraduates, in the last month or so and I have encountered regularly committed mistakes. While some of them are merely annoyances, a few can be deal breakers if you are unlucky enough to be assigned someone strict.
I’ve listed down some of the most common ones below to help those of you job hunting to avoid committing the same mistakes. Used in conjunction with two other past article entitled the Interview Guide for New Applicants and Do’s and Don’ts of Resume Creation and you might be able to project a more positive of yourself at your next appointment.
- Always bring a black or blue pen with you because they are the easiest colors to see. Other colors, like green, violet, and even pink, tend to make you appear less serious. They can also be difficult to photocopy or scan in black and white, something which companies tend to do today.
- Make multiple photocopies of important documents and bring them with you. These include your transcript of records, diploma, NBI clearance, government-issued IDs, and employment clearance, if available.
- Put your mobile phone on silent mode before entering the building so you don't have to fumble around when it rings.
- Come in at least 20 minutes before your scheduled time so you can drop by the rest room to freshen up before the interview. Use the time to wipe away visible perspiration on your face and to cool down. For the ladies, you can use the time to touch up any make up, if you use it.
- When writing your name in boxes, leave a box blank for spaces between several first names. The purpose of using boxes instead of a line is to make it easy to encode your name in a database. If you don't leave spaces, your name may be entered incorrectly and cause delays for your payroll, SSS card, TIN number, and even health card.
- Make sure to write your name legibly. Many interviewers process hundreds of applicants in a week and may find it annoying to waste time trying to decipher chicken scratches. The least that can happen is to put the interviewer in an irritated mood, the worst is that you name may be skipped entirely because the interviewer can't understand your writing.
- Right before the interview, try to relax by taking a deep breath before entering the room. You can also try extending your arms at a 30 degree angle to the ground, straighten your elbows, then shake your hands vigorously, like you're shaking water off them. This is one of the best ways to release stress. Quite a number of applicants fail the interview because they clam up due to tension.
- Smile during your interview even if you are nervous because frowning is contagious.
- Wait for the interviewer to offer you a seat before taking it. Nothing is more annoying than the lack of manners.
- Make sure you have a firm handshake. To do this, the web of skin between you thumb and forefinger needs to touch the webbing of the other hand. The grip should be a little tighter than holding a boyfriend's or girlfriend's hand while walking; not too hard and not too soft.
- The application process can take a while so expect to be sitting in the reception area for a whole day. Bring a book to pass the time away. If you prefer to play a game, put it on silent mode. Avoid using anything that requires headphones because you may not hear your name being announced.
- Always inform the receptionist whenever you step out to go to the restroom. Interviewers may assume you left permanently if you don't respond after your name is called.
- When you name is called, raise your hand as you get up to let the interviewer know you are in the room. This is especially helpful if the waiting area is packed with applicants. In some cases, an interviewer may jump to the next name on the list if you don't respond fast enough.
- Sit up straight during the interview. This isn't your living room and slouching may be interpreted as being disrespectful.
- Avoid eating anything messy before the interview or while sitting in the waiting area. The sauce or crumbs can find their way on to your clothes, face, or hands. Things like spaghetti sauce, chocolate syrup, and mustard can be difficult, if not impossible, to clean in a restroom.
- Do not fill up the portion reserved for the "Maiden Name" if you are male or a single female. This is reserved only for ladies who have been married. Some people even mistakenly write down their mother's name here so don't do it.
- Never use your left hand for handshakes as it makes you appear rude.
- Do not bring your parents, children, or other relatives to an interview. If your dad or mom insists on coming with you, ask them to pass the time away at a nearby coffee shop or restaurant so you don't look like a child.
- Never toss questions back at the interviewer because it can be annoying. Remember that you are the one being questioned and not the other way around. When asked a tough question, take a second to think before giving the best answer you can come up with. If you don't have an answer, simply be honest and say you don't know. Try not to worry about missing a question as I'm sure you'll get the next one.
- Avoid bringing up politics, religion, or sex as these are sensitive topics. If they make their way into the conversation, keep your emotions in check because you might blurt out something offensive. In some cases, I notice that grammar goes out the window during impassioned speeches so keep a lid on it.
- Do not use words you are not familiar with. Their incorrect or inappropriate use runs the risk of sending the wrong message.
- Resist the urge of embellishing your answers. A good interviewer may catch you blowing things out of proportion or, worse, lying and that could spell the end of your interview.
- Do not bad mouth your school or even the company you were involved with because this sends the message that you may do the same to the organization you are currently applying at. However, if the question is asked and details are required, state them as a matter-of-fact and try to minimize negative comments.
- Do not complain about how long it took to be called. No matter how long you've waited, the interviewer will most likely have been there longer than you. He or she will be exhausted and the last thing he or she wants to hear is someone whining about how long it took to get to them.
- Don't be arrogant or condescending. Just because you are good at something doesn't guarantee getting hired. The fact of the matter is there will always be someone better than you right around the corner. This means you can be passed over for someone with a better attitude.
- Do not fidget during the interview. One of the worst things this does is to make the interview table shake or your chair squeak.
- Never go to a big company for your first interview because you will most likely fail due to tension and lack of preparation. Start off with small companies to practice on and build confidence before going to the big ones.
- Since you are not in kindergarten anymore, it may be best to stop spelling you name vocally in this manner: A for apple, B for boy, C for cat, D for dog, E for eagle... Download a free phonetic alphabet app into your mobile phone and familiarize yourself with it. At this point, you should start spelling you name this way: A for alpha, B for Bravo, C for charlie, D for delta, E for echo...
And there you have it, the 28 of the most common mistakes I come across when talking with applicants. I hope it helps you out in your next interview.