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Five Job Interview Deal Breakers

Author: Jacob Williams

A job interview is your opportunity to make a good impression. In fact, there are few times when making a strong impression matters more than when you're interacting with a hiring manager.

Nevertheless, some candidates play Russian roulette during this critical interaction. Through ignorance, arrogance, or nonchalance, many people blow their chances of getting hired by making avoidable blunders.

The Creative Group commissioned a survey of 400 randomly-selected advertising executives with at least 20 employees and marketing executives with at least 200 employees, to determine the five top mistakes potential candidates make.

The executives were asked: When interviewing candidates for creative roles, which of the following do you consider to be a deal breaker (something a candidate says or does that will likely cause you to immediately discount that person from consideration)?

Their responses are as follows:

77% Checking or answering the phone during an interview

70% Showing up late without acknowledging it

70% Not bringing requested items (resume, references, portfolio, etc.)

69% Wearing improper interview attire

62% Speaking poorly of a past job or employer

Knowing what you're doing wrong is only half the battle, knowing how to avoid these situations is equally important. Below are five tips to help you avoid these serious blunders.

Eliminate the Temptation of Using Your Phone

To be on the safe side, turn off your phone before you even enter the building. By shutting off your phone, you can use this time to focus on the interview or read the company's brochures, instead of checking messages. If your phone is off, you won't have to worry about it ringing or vibrating. Yes, having your phone vibrate during an interview is unacceptable.

Plan Ahead

If you're late by even a few minutes, it will set the wrong tone with the hiring manager. Think about it: during the interview process, you're expected to impress the person who might offer you a job, and you don't think enough of the opportunity to show up on time. Now the interviewer is wondering if this is a bad habit. Will you be the type of employee who arrives late for work and consistently miss deadlines? Not many companies want to roll the dice and take that chance.

There are several ways to avoid being tardy. If you are unsure of the exact location of the interview, do a test run a day or two in advance. Gauge how long it takes you to arrive at your destination – while adjusting for traffic – and figure out your parking options if the building does not a have a parking lot.

Also, prepare your wardrobe in advance. When you're getting dressed for the interview is not the time to discover that there's a tear in your only pair of pantyhose, or your only clean, white shirt isn't clean after all.

If, for some unavoidable reason, you are late, contact the interviewer as soon as possible to explain the situation – and beg for forgiveness.

Prepare your Documents

This is another avoidable situation. Don't wait until the last minute to prepare your documents only to discover that you can't locate the file or the print cartridge is empty. Print out everything in advance and always have more than one copy. Even though you probably sent over most of your documents in advance, imagine arriving for the interview and the company's Internet is down. If they can't access your information and you don't have a physical copy, it's going to be a very awkward interview. And if you don't bring requested documents, well, there's really no excuse for that. This is another situation in which your actions can cause the hiring manager to wonder if perhaps you're a lazy, nonchalant, or forgetful employee. (Read more about the topic, here: 7 Interview Don'ts.)

Put Your Best Foot Forward

Forget what you've heard about companies relaxing their interview attire expectations. Remember that 69% of the respondents in the survey for this article named inappropriate attire as a deal breaker – and they're in a creative industry. Always dress to impress during an interview. Even if the company has a laid-back dress policy, it doesn't apply to you because you're not an employee. With conservative companies, opt for a dark suit and a white or light-colored shirt. With less conservative companies, your best bet is a pair of slacks with a shirt, or a skirt with a blouse.

Curb Your Complaints

You may really have the worst boss ever. However, the problem with complaining about a present or past boss, colleagues, etc., is that you don't know how your crabby comments will be interpreted. You may be viewed as an ill-tempered, argumentative employee who is hard to get along with. If it is necessary to discuss issues with a former employer, try to approach this topic as respectfully as possible. (Learn more about how to ace an interview, here: Tips to Beat Tough Interviews.)

The Bottom Line

Competition is steep for good jobs, and companies are looking for the best candidates. Even if you're qualified, committing certain errors during the interview process can disqualify you. Make sure that you're doing everything within your power to create the best first impression.

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