careers

10 unusual interview mistakes, and 6 that are all too common

Most of us can recall an embarrassing moment in our lives that was caused by nerves. Whether it was drawing a blank at a crucial time, spilling a drink on a first date or stuttering through a presentation at work, at one point or another, anxiety has gotten the best of all of us.

One of life’s most notoriously nerve-racking events, the job interview, is perfect for these sorts of foot-in-mouth moments. The combination of excitement and pressure can cloud our judgment and lead us to make mistakes, decisions and comments that we wouldn’t normally make.

Making mistakes is part of being human, and most hiring managers will let the occasional blank stare or fumbled sentence slide during an interview. But there are some slip-ups that you just can’t recover from, mistakes so ridiculous that they’ll completely eclipse any potential you may have in the mind of your interviewer.

What kind of mistakes, you ask? Well, mistakes like the ones below, which hiring managers reported to CareerBuilder as the most unusual interview mishaps they’d ever seen. (Though we’re not certain all of these mistakes were caused by nerves, we’re going to give everyone the benefit of the doubt here — mostly because we can’t bear to think otherwise.)

  • Candidate brought a “how to interview book” with him to the interview.
  • Candidate asked, “What company is this again?
  • Candidate put the interviewer on hold during a phone interview. When she came back on the line, she told the interviewer that she had a date set up for Friday.
  • Candidate wore a Boy Scout uniform and never told interviewers why.
  • Candidate talked about promptness as one of her strengths after showing up 10 minutes late.
  • On the way to the interview, candidate passed, cut off and flipped the middle finger to a driver who happened to be the interviewer.
  • Candidate referred to himself in the third person.
  • Candidate took off his shoes during interview.
  • Candidate asked for a sip of the interviewer’s coffee.
  • A mature candidate told the interviewer she wasn’t sure if the job offered was worth “starting the car for.”

How’s that for some third-party embarrassment?

But before you ask, “What kind of idiot would ask a stranger for a sip of his coffee?” know that it doesn’t take a mistake as bizarre as the examples above to kill a perfectly good interview. There are a plenty of less ridiculous but equally detrimental interview gaffes that job candidates — even smart ones — make all the time.

According to the CareerBuilder survey, the following are the errors job seekers make most often:

  • Answering cell phone or texting: 77 percent
  • Appearing disinterested: 75 percent
  • Dressing inappropriately: 72 percent
  • Appearing arrogant: 72 percent
  • Talking negatively about current or previous employers: 67 percent
  • Chewing gum: 63 percent

So how can you avoid making mistakes — outrageous or otherwise — in your next job interview?

Be prepared, says Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder. “With preparation and practice, candidates can greatly improve their interview skills,” she says. Well-prepared job seekers are more confident, articulate and relaxed — and therefore less susceptible to error — than those who aren’t.

Before your interview, research the company, conduct mock interviews with friends and practice telling anecdotes that highlight your accomplishments, Haefner suggests.

Originally Posted on CareerBuilder – For even more tips on successful interviewing, check out the video posted by The Work Buzz.

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Elwood Staffing – Internal Openings

Internal Jobs

At Elwood Staffing, we believe that people are our most valuable resource. That’s why we are constantly working hard to recruit the best candidates for our corporate positions.

Corporate/Internal Openings: Area Manager Branch Manager Area Sales Consultant Customer Service Manager Staffing Specialist Bilingual Staffing Specialist Staffing Assistant Bilingual Staffing Assistant On-Site Account Manager On-Site Specialist Management Development Program

We place a high priority on attracting and retaining top talent. At Elwood Staffing, we provide each of our employees with CPR: Commitment, Progress, and Rewards.

Commitment

We are committed to providing you with a work environment that inspires you to be your best. We communicate our goals and objectives so we can work together to achieve them. We pride ourselves on listening – listening to your thoughts and suggestions of how we can improve. It means providing you with the resources you need to be successful. It means hiring people like you – equally committed to professional growth and the success of Elwood Staffing.

Progress

We are committed to providing you with opportunities to expand your knowledge and skills. We work in a challenging industry that demands our employees be provided the means of continuous professional improvement. Elwood University provides internal training opportunities such as the Certified Staffing Professional™ (CSP™) certification, a variety of software programs, employment law policies, professional development, and more. We also provide a generous tuition reimbursement program for on-line or classroom courses at accredited colleges and universities. These training tools, combined with your ambition, provide the means to expand your skills and open the door to new opportunities for you at Elwood Staffing.

Rewards

We recognize what it takes to attract good people. We do this by providing competitive salaries and benefits. Our annual bonus program rewards you for a job well done. Our gain-sharing program shares in the success of Elwood Staffing. Our 401(k) participants enjoy a generous annual match of their payroll contributions. Along with paid time off, health, dental and vision coverage, paid holidays, and more, we provide an excellent package of benefits for all of our employees.

Are you in need of a little C-P-R? If you would like to learn more about the opportunities that await you at Elwood Staffing, simply click on our available corporate position that best matches your interest.

Objectives on Resumes

Monster PenRecruiter Roundtable: Objectives on Resumes

The Recruiter Roundtable is a monthly feature that collects career and job-seeking advice from a group of recruiting experts throughout the US.  The question we put before our panel this month is: How important is having an “objective” or “summary” section at the opening of a candidate’s resume?

 

Your 15-Second ‘Elevator Pitch’
If you want to convert your 15 seconds of fame into an in-person interview at the company of your choice, include a summary statement at the opening of your resume.

A well-written summary statement tells me how your experience and skill set will help my company solve a particular challenge, become more profitable or efficient, or break into or further penetrate target markets. In other words, it will make me want to read the rest of your resume and consider you for the opportunity. The best summary statements I’ve seen are no more than three to five sentences long and show me that you clearly understand the role you’re applying for.

— Cheryl Ferguson, recruiter, The Recruiter’s Studio

A Better Use of That Space?
While a summary could clarify your goal or objective, I don’t think it is a necessary part of one’s resume. Recruiters review candidates’ information every day, and look for certain skills and experiences found in the body of a resume. Save the extra space for accomplishments, goals achieved, awards and unique skills relevant to the job.

— Bob Hancock, senior manager of global talent acquisition, Electronic Arts

Review Real Situations
Including an objective targeted to a specific position can be helpful since it quickly tells an employer why the job candidate is interested in the opportunity and is the right fit for it. The key is to provide information that will pique the hiring manager’s interest without adding superfluous details or items listed later in the resume.

Only include an objective if the resume is targeted to a particular opportunity. Omit this section when creating a general resume.

— DeLynn Senna, executive director of North American permanent placement services, Robert Half International

Most Useful Cases
For me, it’s most important in two cases:

1. Executive or Experienced Candidates: If you have been in business for a while and have taken on a variety of challenges, and even if you have depth in one discipline, it’s still helpful to know your elevator pitch. An experienced executive will be able to make a pithy statement about top-level skills.

2. Career Changers: If you are trying to reposition yourself from one discipline to another (and I know people who have done this successfully), you should explicitly state the skill sets that are directly transferable. A candidate I know went from market research/analytics to organizational development and this [objective statement] was crucial for the hiring teams to connect the dots.

— Ross Pasquale, Search Consultant, Monday Ventures

Build Momentum
If the candidate fully understands the job they are applying for, a succinct objective or summary could be helpful. However, many candidates do a poor job at making their statement match the position of interest. Instead, there is a tendency to lean towards making a broad statement in their objective such as, “To obtain a position in the financial services industry.” A statement such as this loses the momentum the “objective” or “summary” could have had.

— Robyn Timmerman, recruiter, Wells Fargo Wealth Management Group

Source: Monster.com

6 Red Flags Employers See in Your Job History

By Alison Green | U.S.News & World Report LP – Wed, Oct 24, 2012 1:54 PM EDT

Long before you get to a job interview, hiring managers are forming opinions about you based on your resume and your job history. Here are six of the most common red flags they look for.

1. You have multiple short-term jobs. If you have a history of quickly moving from one job to the next without staying very long, employers will wonder whether you get bored easily, or can’t keep a job, or don’t know how to identify the right fit for yourself. If you do have good reasons for the job changes (such as a spouse in the military), make sure to fill in your interviewer quickly so she doesn’t draw the wrong conclusions.

2. You quit your last job with nothing else lined up. Since most people line up a new job before quitting an old one, employers raise their eyebrows if you left without something new waiting. They wonder what the real story is: Did you blow up one day and walk off the job in a fit of anger? Do you get upset at work and make impulsive and rash decisions? Were you actually fired but trying to claim you left on your own?

3. You were laid off from your last job. While plenty of layoffs are about company cutbacks or restructuring, employers know that companies sometimes use them as an opportunity to get rid of lower performers. To combat this question, be sure to mention if your whole team or division was let go. If you were the only one laid off, that raises more questions than if you were part of a group that was laid off.

4. You’ve been unemployed for a while. Even in this economy, some hiring managers look at long-term unemployed candidates and wonder if there’s a reason that other employers haven’t hired them. Fortunately, many employers do understand that it can take time for even good candidates to find work in this market–but it’s important to show that you’ve been spending your time volunteering, building your skills, or something other than a year-long job search.

5. You have large gaps between jobs. When employers see gaps of unemployment, they wonder what happened during that time. Did you leave the previous job with nothing lined up, and if so, why? (See No. 2) Were you working somewhere that you’ve deliberately left off your resume, and if so, what are you hiding? Gaps raise questions that you don’t want on a hiring manager’s mind.

6. None of your past managers are on your reference list. If you only offer peers as references, or other people who didn’t directly supervise your work, hiring managers are going to wonder why. Managers are usually best able to speak to the quality of your work and your strengths and weaknesses, and steering reference-checkers away from those conversations can be a red flag. Plus, employers will usually ask to be put in touch with your past managers anyway.

Alison Green writes the popular Ask a Manager blog, where she dispenses advice on career, job search, and management issues. She’s also the co-author of Managing to Change the World: The Nonprofit Manager’s Guide to Getting Results, and former chief of staff of a successful nonprofit organization, where she oversaw day-to-day staff management, hiring, firing, and employee development.

Tidbits for your Career Search

There is an overwhelming amount of advice and information out there for job seekers that it’s almost impossible to know where to begin.  As an internal recruiter, the things that I look for in a resume just scratches the surface into what HR and other hiring managers may look for but here are my top ‘tidbits’ of advice.

1. Pay attention to the details! Now Hiring-Purple (2)Words that are spelled correctly but used in the wrong context are easily overlooked because spell checker will not notice them. Have at least 3 qualified people review your resume and provide feedback. There is not a ‘right way’ to do a resume. Every hiring manager will have their own preferences so the more feedback you get, the better. Also, triple check those cover
letters. It’s so convenient to copy and paste so be sure that you have not submitted
the name or position of a previous application to your next. I will immediately
dismiss an applicant who has submitted a cover letter that is customized for
someone else’s job posting.

2. It is a social media age of recruiting. You must have a professional LinkedIn profile and make it look like your resume. Dates and job duties should mirror one another. Then start connecting with people. Don’t reach out to VP’s and CEO’s of companies asking for jobs. You should start with recruiters, managers, staff, and NEVER come out and ask directly for a job. This is a networking site so be professional. Also, MAKE YOUR PERSONAL SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS PRIVATE. Every job seeker should go in and adjust the privacy settings on Facebook, MySpace, Instagram, and so on. Google yourself and see what shows up. Hiring managers are researching and you don’t want us to see what you and your friends do outside of your professional life.

3. Always keep your up-to-date resume on relevant job boards including CareerBuilder and Monster. Include relevant keywords without overdoing it. Your key words should match your experience so don’t try to fool us. Pay attention to the headline on your profile and make it
relevant to the job that you are seeking. When we conduct a search, we skim through quickly. You will want to catch our attention with those few words. Management graduate seeking and entry-level position, Sales professional, etc…

4. When you get the call for an interview, prepare! Research the interviewer,
the company, and the industry. Practice interview questions, both standard and
behavioral (you can find some on the internet). Be ready to talk about future
goals both long and short-term. Study for your interview.

I find a lot of tips and useful information on CareerBuilder and Monster that I share on my
LinkedIn and Twitter accounts.

CareerBuilder has a great section on their website called “Advice and Resources.” http://www.careerbuilder.com/JobSeeker/Resources/CareerResources.aspx?sc_cmp2=JS_Nav_AdvRes

Monster has their own version of job seeker resources called “Career Resources.” http://resources.monster.com/?re=nv_gh_gnt1377_%2F

Both sites provide wonderful resources for job seekers at any level.  Take advantage of the resources that are available to you.  It could better prepare you and set you apart from other job seekers.

Best of luck on your career endeavors!

Angela Malagon, Corporate Recruiter, Elwood Staffing Services, Inc.