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5 surefire ways to sabotage a job interview

By Michelle Solomon, Contributing writer
Published On: May 16 2011 02:25:28 PM CDT
Updated On: Jan 25 2013 08:42:30 AM CST
Job Interview, Business Meeting, Resume

iStock/dra_schwartz

You've done it. The resume update that you paid more for than your smart business suit or last pair of sensible, but savvy looking shoes has landed you a face-to-face job interview.

Congratulations, but many a confident schmo has made it to their appointment on time, hair coiffed, and lines rehearsed, only to do one thing that sabotages their chance for the sweetest 9 to 5-er in the concrete job jungle.

If you bring out the Purell after the hiring manager shakes your hand, or decide that a way to break the ice is to tell your father's favorite Polish joke to the person who could eventually be your boss, chances are you'll be headed back to the unemployment line.

Here are the Top 5 Surefire Ways To Sabotage Your Job Interview. Don't worry, we'll tell you the right things to do that can help you nab the corner office of your dreams, too.

open mouth bad breath

No. 5: You are what you eat ... and drink

Being of Mediterranean descent, everything I eat I end up wearing for days after. Not because I am prone to spills, which I am, but because any food made with garlic and/or onions seems to ooze out of every pore. And the same goes for alcohol.

If your significant other would like to take you to your favorite Italian restaurant the night before your big interview to congratulate you, stick to plain pasta with butter. Water, a glass of milk, or a soda should be your drink of choice.

Despite claims made by mouthwash companies trying to sell their products, eliminating food breath with a mint is like putting a band aid on a bullet wound.

If the person doing the hiring asks if you enjoy Shrimp Scampi, chances are that they didn't discover your favorite dish by reading your Facebook page.

bored businessman looking at watch

No. 4: Just shut your mouth

This is a true story. A job candidate talked so much during an interview, that the hour-long meeting covered only one question: "Tell me a little bit about yourself." This particular individual began with the first time he appeared on stage as Joseph in his first grade Christmas pageant to how grateful he was to have inherited his good looks from his grandmother on his father's side.

It's inevitable that this is a question that's always asked at an interview, so it's worthwhile to prepare. "Tell me a little bit about yourself" should have a beginning, a middle, and an end.

As much as the truth hurts, ask your friends if you're known as Princess Gabby or Sir Chat A Lot in your circle.

It's good to show enthusiasm during a job interview and sell yourself, but it's another thing to give the interviewer an opportunity to create a mental picture of you wearing a dog muzzle.

nervous man biting his nails

No. 3: Squash those nervous habits

There's the cross-legged shake, the one-legged bounce, the head scratch, the nail bite, the "um" and "you know," and, God forbid, the nose pick.

If you possess any of these nervous habits, do whatever it takes to nip them in the bud now.

Start to slap your own hands when you bite your nails, wear pants or a skirt that makes it impossible for you to cross your legs, put so much hair spray in your hair that the feel of it makes your skin crawl, and listen to your speech in a tape recorder during a conversation to remove those annoying extras.

And if you're reading this and believe that the only time the nose pick happens is when you're alone in your car, think again. Private habits are never really private now, are they?

receptionist secretary sitting behind desk

No. 2: Receptionists have feelings (and power) too

Your job interview was scheduled at 2 p.m. and now it's 3 p.m. and you're still waiting. Surely, it's the receptionist's fault. She/he didn't call them to announce your arrival, they should call again, it is their job to find out why the person is making you wait and announce that to you.

Wrong, wrong and wrong again.

Make no mistake, the receptionist at any company wields power. They are put there as the first line of defense to everyone who passes through that door, ergo their opinion many times is paramount.

The receptionist is who decides what kind of first impression you make. Talking a blue streak on your cell phone while waiting is another first impression faux pas. It might seem like a good way to pass the time, but it can also indicate lack of concentration, patience and respect. And don't think the person in charge won't hear about your whining about the drab color scheme, uncomfortable chairs, and the hour-long wait.

woman with resume at job interview

No. 1: Why did I bring this dummy along?

Most of the reason interview blunders happen are because of nerves, but some of them are just out of sheer stupidity.

Careerbuilder.com recently released findings from a survey of 3,000 hiring managers and human resource professionals about some of the most unbelievable (we'll call them stupid) interview blunders.

  • One candidate answered their cell phone then asked the interviewer to leave their own office because the conversation was "private."
  • A man smelled his armpits on the way into the interview room.
  • A woman who had applied for an accounting position said she was a "people person" not a "numbers person."
  • An interviewee asked for a ride home following the interview.
  • A man said he was fired from his last job for beating up his boss.

In job interviews as in life, it's all about how you play your cards. Good rule of thumb: Don't check your common sense at the door.


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