Some are clueless on job interview

On the Job


August 30, 2006|By Hanah Cho | Hanah Cho,Sun Columnist

There are some job seekers who still don't get it. You need to be well-prepared for an interview. It's often the first face-to-face interaction with a potential employer.

To avoid making a negative first impression, I asked human resources consultant Eileen Levitt to name some common interview blunders. Levitt is president of the HR Team in Columbia, which helps smaller firms with their recruiting, hiring and other human resources needs.

One of the most frequent mistakes job candidates make is not knowing anything about the company.

"I had a candidate come here and I asked her, `What do you know about us?'" Levitt says. "She said, `My Internet was down today, and I couldn't do research.' [The interview] was scheduled two weeks ago. That turned me off."

Another gaffe is dressing too casually. Tube tops and flip-flops are absolutely forbidden.

"It's always better to be overdressed," she says.

Here's a can't-believe-it-happens-but-it's-true story: Candidates who use profanity during interviews.

"We hear it all the time," she says. "You can't repeat it in the paper."

Some other interview blunders include bad-mouthing former employers, giving vague answers and taking cell phone calls.

A survey released last week by Accountemps, a financial services staffing agency, found that 47 percent of 150 respondents think that little or no knowledge of the company is the most common interview mistake. Being unprepared to discuss skills and experience, career plans and goals and lacking enthusiasm also top the list. (The survey has a margin of error of 6.7 percentage points.)

Lack of soft skills, such as not making eye contact and arriving late, are some other interview slip-ups.

From the mailbag: A few readers passed along their tips about staying fit at work after reading last week's column.

Kate of Mount Washington says she sits at her desk eight hours a day and is trying to lose weight from her last pregnancy.

She makes a trip to the farmers' market downtown every Sunday morning and buys vegetables and fruits, "which inspires me to eat well all week." Kate spends time Sunday preparing the fruits and veggies and packing them individually for the week.

"I put it in bags so I can easily grab something on my way out the door each morning and have healthy stuff to snack on and eat for lunch," Kate says.

Coleen, a reader from Odenton, parks her car 25 minutes away so she can walk to the office. Like Kate, she brings healthy snacks, including V-8 juice, which is 70 calories for 11.5 ounces.

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