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Get Ahead of the Competition! 6 Interview Mistakes to Avoid
August 23, 2013
Sales Gravy

by Heather R. Huhman

The job interview is arguably the most important step in your job search. Once you’ve gotten past applicant tracking system, it’s your time to truly shine. It’s your opportunity to say, “I am the best candidate for this job and here’s why.”

Unfortunately, the job interview is also a step where many candidates fall apart. When you enter a situation with a ton of nerves, it’s a challenge to push past them and make sure all the little details go according to plan. Plenty of candidates make costly mistakes during their job interviews and forfeit jobs for which they’re perfectly qualified

Earlier in the year,Glassdoor showcased the Top 25 Most Difficult Companies To Interview and

CareerBuilder determined the most common mistakes candidates make during interviews. Here are the top six mistakes and how you can avoid making them during your next job interview:

1. Appearing Disinterested

The majority of hiring managers agree that a candidate’s apparent lack of interest in the job is the most common error they see in interviews. There’s a very easy fix to this. To prove to your interviewer you truly want the job, you need to act like it. Do research ahead of time on the company and the role. Prepare to ask lots of questions and share your ideas to show you mean business. When it comes time for the interview, show your excitement throughout the entire conversation. Give it your all.

2. Answering a Call or Texting

While this should be an obvious no-no, apparently lots of candidates are still using cellphones during interviews. It’s extremely rude to divert your attention from the interview, plus it’s a major turn-off (see previous point). Avoid the temptation of texting by turning your phone off when you enter the room. Leave it in the car if you have to. Just don’t touch it during the interview.

3. Dressing Inappropriately

For someone who’s never been a professional setting before, it’s understandable to be unsure of what to wear. What exactly does “professional attire” mean? When in doubt, it’s best to dress more conservatively. Wear a business suit or dress. Don’t show too much skin. Don’t wear anything too flashy. If you aren’t sure about something you’re wearing, it’s probably not your best option.

4. Talking Negatively About a Current or Previous Employer

When you speak about past jobs or internships, it’s essential to touch only on the positive experiences you had. Tell the interviewer what you accomplished there and how you can use what you learned to benefit this company. Stick to stories that highlight your strengths, not your past employer’s weaknesses. Talking negatively about your previous boss sends up a red flag, so just don’t do it.

5. Body Language

Body language is the most important part of in-person communication. How you present yourself says more about you than the words coming out of your mouth. That’s why your eye contact, smile, posture, and handshake all need to be perfect in every job interview. Sit up straight, give a strong handshake, and look your interviewer in the eyes. Practice your body language ahead of time by asking someone to give you honest feedback. It’s easy to miss something when you don’t even realize you’re doing it wrong.

6. Being Vague

You need to prove to your interviewer that you are the most qualified candidate for the job. Being vague in your answers will guarantee you’ll fail. Provide specific examples of your accomplishments and how they will benefit this new company. Come up with a list of stories ahead of time for the most common interview questions, or even the most outrageous interview questions. Preparation is key for nailing any question the interviewer throws at you.

These are the biggest mistakes for standard interviews. Other issues arise when candidates enter the territory of phone and video interviews. Be sure to cover all of your bases so you know exactly how to succeed in your next job interview. Avoid these mistakes and you’re already way ahead of your competition.

What are some mistakes you made during your last job interview?


Heather R. Huhman is a Glassdoor career and workplace expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for job search and human resources technologies. She is also the instructor of Find Me A Job: How To Score A Job Before Your Friends, author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships (2011) and #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets. - See what employees are saying

Does Your Hiring Manager Scare Away Top Talent?
June 25, 2013
Sales Gravy

by Donna Fuscaldo

Employers may think they hold all the cards when it comes to interviewing job candidates, but they too can do things that will scare off would-be workers. That may not matter if it’s a low-level position the company is seeking to fill, but if its top talent the company is after, then interviewers have to tread carefully during the interview process.

“Employers scare off candidates probably more often than they realize,” says Crystal Miller, a strategist at Branded Strategies, the recruitment and brand strategy company. “Everything is geared toward what the candidate should and shouldn’t do. Many employers don’t realize it’s an audition for them too.”

The job market may be tight, but when it comes to sought-after skills, companies are increasingly competing for top talent. The worst thing a company wants to do is lose a potentially great employee because of bad behavior on the part of the interviewer. From being unprepared to saying inappropriate things, here’s a look at seven behaviors that will send potential employees running for the hills.

1. Being Unprepared. One of the quickest ways to turn off a job candidate is to fail to prepare for the interview beforehand. If you spend the first few minutes of the interview looking over the resume, the job candidate will know that fairly quickly. It sends the message that the job candidate isn’t important and/or that the company doesn’t respect the people that work for them, says Paul McDonald, senior executive director of Robert Half International, the staffing company. “There’s a war on talent for many skill sets,” says McDonald. If the candidate gets the impression from the first interview that he or she isn’t important, then they may think it’s indicative of the company’s culture and choose to work elsewhere. 

2. Saying Inappropriate Things. Even if your company embraces a culture of swearing, the interview is not the time or place to showcase that. According to Miller, there has to be boundaries during the interview because without them the candidate will worry about what it’s actually like to work at the company.  “Don’t be the one cursing or oversharing,” she says. You can touch upon the quirks of the culture so the candidate knows what to expect without engaging in the behavior.

3. Rushing. Job candidates, whether they are employed or out of work, take time out of their day to go on an interview – not to mention the time they spend preparing in advance. If the person conducting the interview doesn’t spend enough time with the job candidate it can leave them with a bad taste in their mouth. “If you appear rushed or as if there’s another meeting to go to candidates can get turned off,” says McDonald. “Not having enough time to go through the interview shows you don’t respect the candidate.”

4. Talking Too Much. The only thing worse than a self-centered person that drones on and on about their life is an interviewer who engages in that behavior. According to Laura Kerekes, chief knowledge officer at Think HR, the human resources consulting company, a big mistake interviewers make is monopolizing the conversation or making it about themselves. “The candidate cannot tell his or her story or learn what he or she needs to know about the company and job to make an informed decision,” in that situation, she says.

5. Not Knowing Enough About the Position. The whole idea behind an interview is determining if the person is the right fit for the company and the open position. If the person conducting the interview doesn’t know the details of the job and the skills needed to perform it, he or she won’t be able to accurately gauge the candidate’s competence. “It shows a lack of respect,” says Miller. “The candidate’s time is just as valuable as the organization.” Miller says it can be frustrating for the job seeker if the person conducting the interview can’t answer basic questions about the role. “If they don’t respect me now when they are trying to attract me how will they treat me when they have me,” says Miller.

6. Not Taking Notes. Chances are a company will interview multiple people before they choose a candidate. If the interviewer doesn’t take the time to jot down notes during the process, the candidate can interpret it badly. “It shows the candidate that either this person has a photographic memory or is not interested, and it’s usually the later,” says McDonald. Even if the interviewer thinks he or she can remember the interviews by the time they get to the third day chances are everything will be mixed up. “If you don’t focus on the interview you could be driving a great candidate away,” says McDonald.

7. Making the Interview Process Too Complex. Most job seekers know they will have to go through two or three interviews before getting an offer, but if the process is too complex or confusing, chances are it’s going to turn off a lot of potential candidates. According to Miller, it’s a huge turn off to job seekers if they have to go through multiple personality tests before they are even granted a phone interview, then be interviewed by multiple people, then top it off with a written essay or test. “For the most part, especially if you are hiring experience, we’ve been put through the paces, we’ve gone to school and had those entry-level jobs,” says Miller. “There’s a line to what’s appropriate to put someone through before you say yes.”


Donna Fuscaldo is a freelance journalist hailing out of Long Island, New York. Donna writes for numerous online publications including,,, and As a personal finance reporter for years, Donna provides invaluable advice on everything from saving money to landing that dream job. She also writes a weekly column for focused on technology for small businesses. Previously, Donna was an equities reporter for Dow Jones Newswires and a special contributor to the Wall Street Journal. Through the Glassdoor Blog, Donna will provide tips on how to find a job and more importantly keep it.

Don’t Let Your Next Cover Letter Be A Flop
April 5, 2013
Sales Gravy

By Heather R. Huhman

A strong cover letter could be your ticket to moving a step further in getting a new job. This relatively concise piece of information has the ability to place you steps ahead of other candidates, highlight your achievements, and showcase your personality – but no one ever said creating one would be an easy task. Writing a knockout cover letter might even be one of the most challenging parts of the hiring process.

It’s hard to nail down just one challenge that accompanies writing cover letters. Unfortunately, many poor cover letters have allowed outstanding candidates to be passed over by hiring managers. While writing your cover letter might be a scary task, doing it successfully is essential to getting hired.

Don’t let your next cover letter be a flop; consider these 10 mistakes before you hit send:

1. It’s Riddled with Errors. There are many things the errors on your cover letter will express to a hiring manager: lack of attention to detail, carelessness, and even disinterest in the position. Your cover letter deserves to be triple checked for poor grammar, punctuation, and overall structure. Pass it along to your mentor or friends to ensure you haven’t missed anything. 

2. It Lacks Focus. What are you attempting to convey to the hiring manager? Writing about your professional experiences can be challenging, and it often causes job seekers to create unfocused cover letters. To write a more direct cover letter, consider creating a layout encompassing your main points.

3. It’s Too Long. Respect the busy schedule of a hiring manager by utilizing brevity in every cover letter you create. Write short and succinct paragraphs to allow for a more easily read document. Sift through unnecessary details and only present the most beneficial information for the job at hand.

4. It Doesn’t Set You Apart. Your cover letter is your chance to leave your mark on a hiring manager. Rather than reiterating what they can read on your resume, use this as an opportunity to share why you’re better for the job than any other candidate. Use a strong, purposeful statement of what you can bring to the position, and how you can positively benefit the company as a whole.

5. It Fails to Highlight Your Skills. While you certainly don’t need to highlight every single job you’ve had during your career, your cover letter should talk about your skills and experiences most beneficial to the company. Your cover letter isn’t for sharing your personal life or specific needs.

6. It’s Missing Information. Job listings often require certain information from applicants. By failing to share the necessary information in your cover letter, you’re essentially removing yourself from the hiring process. Why would a hiring manager choose you over a candidate who went above and beyond to provide the correct details? Double check the qualifications needed for the position prior to sending it.

7. Your Tone is Off. While a cover letter is a professional document, it also gives your potential employer insight into your personality. Don’t rub a hiring manager the wrong way with long-winded bragging. Be sure to leave out arrogance, unprofessional information, and keep the company’s culture in mind.

8. It’s Generic. Customization is key in every part of the hiring process. Submitting a generic cover letter presents you as an average candidate. Your cover letter is an opportunity to stand out and truly speak to a hiring manager – don’t settle for generic.

9. You’re Not Qualified. No matter how you twist and stretch your skills and experiences, you might not be the right candidate for the position. Applying to a position you’re under qualified for is an all-too-common part of the job search. Keep in mind this not only wastes the time of the hiring manager, it also uses up the time and energy you could be spending on applying to position you’re more accurately matched.

10. You Don’t Have One. Just because a cover letter wasn’t mentioned in the job listing, doesn’t mean it’s OK to skip it – they’re never optional. Your cover letter is an important opportunity to convey points you can’t in your resume. Omitting this document leaves you at a fault.

Creating a strong cover letter may be a challenge, but it’s worth the time and energy. Leave a positive first impression on hiring managers by going out of your way to create a concise, focused, and customized document.


Heather R. Huhman is a Glassdoor career and workplace expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for job search and human resources technologies. She is also the instructor of Find Me A Job: How To Score A Job Before Your Friends, author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships (2011) and #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.