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The In-Person Interview – Mistakes that Could Lead to Failure

In-person Interview Mistakes

In-person Interview Mistakes

Be Ready for your In-Person Interview

As you move through the job search process you will eventually get invited to an in-person interview, commonly called the on-site interview, face-to-face interview or plant trip.

The in-person interview provides the opportunity for you and the employer to meet one another face-to-face and to decide if you are right for one another. This is a chance to determine if the chemistry is right, if you really want to spend most of your waking hours together. And, provided you want the job, your goal for the in-person interview is to bag a good job offer.

Maybe you have already participated in an in-person interview without getting the job offer. If so, the job may not have been right for you, you may not have been a good fit for the job or maybe you just did not present yourself as well as you could have. Performing well at an in-person interview requires active thought and preparation.

A survey released by Careerbuilder earlier this year shared the most common in-person interview blunders by percentage. We are highlighting four common mistakes, below, and giving you tips to shine in these areas.

Know Your Stuff. Be Prepared.

Did you ever walk into a test at school without studying? There are not many people who can go unprepared into a situation and succeed. Attending an in-person interview without preparation can lead to disaster.

According to the Careerbuilder survey results, about 39% of managers have seen people walk into interviews appearing to know nothing about the company or the position for which they are interviewing. In the digital age, there is no excuse for a lack of knowledge about the hiring company and even the hiring manager! Do your research before going to an in-person interview; Google searches, company websites, and LinkedIn profiles are all great sources of information.

Another area for preparation and practice is thinking through and rehearsing answers to questions about your skills and experience as they relate to the job for which you are interviewing. Employers often ask questions, known as behavioral-based interview questions, which ask you to” think of a time when….” These questions are made up of 1) a situation 2) how you handled the situation 3) the outcome. Thirty-three percent of employers surveyed said the lack of specific examples to questions asked was an interview mistake.

Dressing the Part for the Job

Part of preparation is choosing the appropriate attire for your interview. About 53% of managers polled in the CareerBuilder survey have seen inappropriately dressed interviewees. This means there are plenty of job seekers who do not know the proper etiquette for dressing for an interview. It is important to ask yourself if you are one of these people.

The proper attire can occasionally depend on your career field or the job you are seeking. Generally, you should never dress more than one level (in formality) above that of the interviewer. A good rule of thumb is to wear business attire unless the company informs you otherwise. It is always a good practice to dress as if you want the job.

Some companies do specify the appropriate clothing for an interview. For example, Amazon asks interviewees at their warehouse locations to wear jeans, a polo shirt or t-shirt, and closed-toed shoes. This is because of the working environment in their warehouses. Another example is when industrial employers ask their interviewers to wear shoes with steel toes or leather soles. It is a good idea to ask the employer, before the in-person interview, if there are any special clothing requirements or standards for an interview.

Turn the Phone Off and Put it Away

In today’s society we have the ability to stay in touch with our friends and loved ones on a nearly 24-hour basis. This ability has become quite common, especially with the improvement and proliferation of cell phones. We carry our cell phones with us and consequently, could get a text or call anytime of the day.

What if you get a text or phone call during your interview? Should you answer it or respond to the text? The answer is, unequivocally, NO! Never answer your cell phone or respond to a text while in an interview. About 49% of the managers polled in the Careerbuilder survey have seen this occur. Answering a text or phone call during an interview is considered rude, a display of poor manners, and doing so could lead to losing the employment opportunity.

When attending an in-person interview, the best practice is to either leave you phone in your car or turn it off. Women should put it in their purse at the very least, and men should tuck it away in a pocket or a briefcase. If you have a special situation where you cannot turn your phone off, at least put it on vibrate. Whatever you do, do not pull it out during your interview.

Avoid TMI – Too Much Information

There is a reason that interviewers do not ask for too much personal information. Similarly, there is a reason you should avoid giving out too much of it. If it is not relevant to the position for which you are applying, it does not need to be discussed. The general rule is it is better for people to wonder why you did not speak than to wonder why you did.

Around 20% of managers have come across TMI interviewees, ones who give out too much information about themselves. In most cases your political views, your personal love life or your three house cats are not relevant to your job search. Keep that kind of information to yourself. The interviewer does not need to know these kinds of details about your personal life. This sort of thing can keep you from bagging the job.

The same can be true for asking the interviewer personal questions. About 17% of hiring managers have been in an interview that involved questions asked of them pertaining to their own personal life. This is not appropriate in an interview. If you get the job, you will have time to get to know the people you work with personally, but the in-person interview is definitely not the time nor place to ask probing personal questions of the interviewer.

When you attend your in-person interview, make sure you are putting your best foot forward. Show that prospective employer exactly why you should be hired. Do not give them any reasons to refuse your application.

We hope you found these tips useful and that they will get you closer to finding that next career opportunity! Check back to our blog page regularly to discover more tips for enhancing your career search. I encourage you to provide your comments in the “Leave a Reply” box below.

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Sources & Related Articles:

Image courtesy of marcolm, published on 20 February 2011, at

Grasz, J. (2014, Jan). Employers Share Most Memorable Interview Blunders. Retrieved from URL

Pam Copeland

Executive Editor - Career Services

Pam Copeland

Pam Howard Copeland is a seasoned recruiting professional with substantial experience and finesse in internet marketing and dealing with candidates and clients. Pam earned her B.A. in Communications from Georgia Southern University. She began working in the staffing/recruiting industry in 1989 and has a rare and unique perspective on the technical staffing industry. She has managed both sides of the hiring table and has experienced the challenges that come with each. She co-owns two companies focused in different aspects of career search.
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