Job Interview Tips Job Search Tips

The Job Interview’s 7 Deadly Sins

Written by Joanna Hughes

Think you know exactly what it takes to land your dream job? Maybe you do. But do you also know what it will take to wind up eliminated from consideration? Unfortunately, even the most qualified candidates can sometimes make the wrong impression … .and cost themselves a job in the process. Don’t fall prey to these seven deadly job hunting “sins.”

1. The Mass Email

Blindly sending out resume after resume to every job you see not only reeks of desperation, but is also a waste of your time. Sure, versatility is an admirable trait, but so is the ability to play to your strength. Hiring managers value flexibility, but they also prize focus. Not to mention: casting a wide net hauls up as many old fisherman’s boots as it does treasure.

The more refined your job search and targeted your resume and cover letter, the more likely you are to hit on the keywords recruiters are looking for in order to advance to the next round.

2. Stretching the Truth

Yes, your resume should present you in your very best light. However, it should also present your skills, experience and interests accurately. Even worse than a shoddy or incomplete resume for a hiring manager? One that misrepresents a candidate.

Avoid exaggerating your background and/or skill set. Even if you make it past the recruiter, the longer-term consequences of fudging the truth on your resume can be dire if your employee finds out.

3. Carelessness Counts

If you think being a few minutes late is no big deal, think again. Not only does showing up late for an interview convey disrespect for the interviewer, but it also demonstrates poor time management. If possible, do a test run before an interview to find out how long transit, parking, walking, etc. will take.

Carelessness in appearance is also a deal-breaker for many employers. Keep the old adage in mind: “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” Select your interview outfit at least a day in advance. Is it clean? Pressed? Appropriate? As much as you might like to think that appearance doesn’t matter as much as skill, you will be judged on your appearance. Make sure to take a quick look in the mirror before you walk out the door.

4. Lack of Preparation

The internet puts a wealth of information at the fingers of the average job searcher. Failure to use this information is an enormous and often unforgivable oversight. Take time in advance to research the company, industry, and even your interviewer. And be prepared to ask questions. Knowledge and curiosity both demonstrate the above-and-beyond qualities sought by today’s employers.

5. Failure to Follow Up

The job interview doesn’t end when you walk out the door. Even if your interview was a slam dunk, you might end up fouling out of the game if you don’t send a thank you note. In fact, 59 percent of HR managers believe that it’s “very helpful” for promising job candidates to follow up with a thank you note after an interview.

While a handwritten note on a piece of monogrammed stationery has timeless appeal, 87 percent of hiring managers now believe that email is an acceptable means of expressing your gratitude.

How long do you have to send your thank you? Today’s job cycle can move quickly: within 24 hours is ideal.

6. No Networking

Networking remains an essential part of the job hunt, but it’s an active process, not a passive one. if you attend networking events, make time for one-on-one interactions; these are far more meaningful than group settings.

With the rise of social networking, job seekers have 24/7 opportunities for networking. Make sure your social media presence is appropriate and appealing. A quick Google search on your own name can turn up any areas of concern.

If you don’t yet have a LinkedIn profile, get one: approximately 93 percent of hiring managers check out LinkedIn when looking for qualified candidates.

7. A Single-Pronged Approach

Today’s job hunt is anything but the linear process it was 20 years ago. There are many channels through which job seekers can interact with recruiting managers. A multi-pronged approach incorporating everything from networking at industry meetings to job boards.

About the author

Joanna Hughes

Joanna Hughes is a freelance writer who specializes in business, human resources and the job market. She lives with her family in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire.