Job Interview Gaffes and Body Language No-Nos

Body language can convey a lot in a job interview.
Body language can convey a lot in a job interview.

Most job applicants get nervous when going through a job interview. There’s a lot riding on the interview, and a person doesn’t get a second chance to make a good first impression. In fact, nearly half of employers know if a candidate is a good fit in the first five minutes, according to an annual Career Builder Survey. Only eight percent make up their mind within a half hour or longer.

Unusual Interviews

The CareerBuilder survey also asked employers to share the most unusual things that candidates have done during a job interview. These job candidates took the top honors:

  • Asked for a cocktail.
  • Pulled out a bag of drugs with his keys.
  • Broke out in song in the middle of the interview.
  • Asked to taste the interviewer’s coffee.
  • Wore a Darth Vader outfit to the interview.
  • Wore slippers to the interview.
  • Lacked the necessary skills and stated “Fake it until you make it” was his personal philosophy.
  • Asked interviewer if she was qualified to be doing her job.
  • Offered interviewer pumpkins and said they transfer good energy.

Common Blunders

The survey also asked employers to identify common and damaging interview mistakes that candidates made. Employers highlighted the following 10 instant deal breakers:

  • Getting caught lying about something (71 percent).
  • Answering a phone call or texting during the interview (67 percent).
  • Showing a lack of accountability (52 percent).
  • Swearing (51 percent).
  • Speaking negatively about a current or previous employer (48 percent).
  • Knowing little or nothing about the job or the company (45 percent).
  • Displaying unprofessional body language (43 percent).
  • Knowing nothing about the industry or competitors (35 percent).

Body Language Is Key

Body language can convey a lot during an interview. Hiring managers stressed the importance of eye contact, smiling, good posture and a firm handshake.

Some body language to avoid: fidgeting, playing with something on the table or with your hair or face and using too many hand gestures.

Gail Cecchettini Whaley, CalChamber Senior Employment Law Counsel 

Make sure you know what you can and you can’t ask during interviews. ​Become familiar with the Guide for Pre-Employment Inquiries, which outlines discriminatory and acceptable interview topics. CalChamber members can also read more about Interviewing Candidates in the HR Library. Not a member? Learn more about what HRCalifornia can do for you.

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