How to fail a job interview

When I owned a previous business we would have to hire new employees from time to time. Back in the Stone Age when I attended high school we were actually taught how to dress and present ourselves at a job interview. Evidently, those are not lessons that are taught today or some people missed those classes. A book could be written about some of the job applicants that came in for an interview.

  • One applicant had no work experience except for two years in the Army. That was fine, except he misspelled Army. I actually learned how to spell Navy before I enlisted, and I thought he probably should have been able to spell Army after spending two years there.
  • When another applicant came for his interview I smelled him long before he got to my office, and it wasn’t a pleasant smell. I couldn’t imagine any of our other workers who would want to work with him all day.
  • I once needed to hire a young lady to help work in the office for the summer. I was interviewing a young lady who just graduated near the top of her class who wanted a job before leaving for college. As I was telling her that we worked Monday through Friday from 8:00 – 3:30 she responded, “You mean I have to come in every day?”
  • During one interview I stepped outside and looked in the applicant’s car. It looked like a landfill in there. Some might wonder what difference that makes. I furnished vans and trucks for our employees to drive, and if that’s how he treated his personal vehicle I figured my vehicle he drove would soon look like that as well.
  • Our company was a service company in a small community. When one prospect showed up covered in tattoos and metal sticking everywhere I knew he would not instill a lot of confidence in our customers. Some argue that it’s not fair to judge a person based on such things in the 21st century. I’m not against tattoos and even piercings if that’s what someone wants to do. I served in the military to protect a person’s right to do such things, but that doesn’t mean I will hire them.
  • Although social media didn’t exist when I owned that business, many people fail to be hired because of things they’ve posted on social media sites. Some employers will ask to access those sites to see what they can learn about the person they are interviewing. You might want to remember that the next time you’re tempted to post that picture of you passed out on Spring Break or getting ready to post a profanity-laced rant.
  • One individual filled out his application and was brought to my office as soon as he finished it. As I read it I noticed that he had a track record of changing jobs every 2-3 years. That’s not necessarily a red flag, but it is certainly a yellow one that requires some questions. According to him he had left his previous jobs because he couldn’t get along with his supervisors. Of course, it was always their fault. That brought out the red flag.

The reality is that there is a lot of competition for the really good jobs. If a person is fortunate enough to have an interview for one of them he or she needs to be prepared to present themselves in the best possible light. A neat, clean appearance is important. So is a positive attitude. Do your research and know something about the company you have applied to. Be honest with your answers and don’t try to hide things from the interviewer. Demonstrate that you are a person of character because in many companies today character trumps talent. Many are willing to train a person they believe has the character to represent the company well. Be on time for your interview. Be patient because many companies now conduct several interviews before they hire a person. Sincerely appreciate the opportunity to be interviewed for the position. Such appreciation demonstrates a grateful attitude, and that goes a long way with many interviewers.

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