The Biggest Blunders of Job Searching: Part 2 Interviews

Part 2: Interviews

Last month we shared the most typical blunders recruiters see on resumes. Now that your resume is flawless and you are likely going to be interviewed for your dream job, we should move on to the interviews.

Interviewers will not only be assessing your ability to do the job, but also how you will fit in with the company, culture, and team. Make sure you bring your A-game and read on for things to avoid during your interview.

Don’t Come Unprepared

You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression, so prepare yourself to ensure you will make a good one! I’m most impressed with candidates who have obviously researched the company and the people they will be meeting (Google or look up your interviewers on LinkedIn to familiarize yourself with their work). I’m also impressed when candidates have prepared good, thoughtful questions and have thought about how they can make an impact on the company.

In the interview, you will be asked questions that help interviewers understand how you would react in situations you may encounter. Before your interview, think about a few projects you are proud of or situations you handled well and jot them down. When you get a question that starts with “tell me about a time when” or “what would you do if”, you can give real-life examples without breaking a sweat.

Write notes for yourself. Hopefully you will not have to look at them much, but if you need to refer to them, no problem. Include anything you learned about your interviewers, projects and situations you handled well that you can use in your answers, questions you have for the interviewers, and anything else you want to be sure you tell the interviewers (like the experience you got last week that’s related to the job but not on your resume).

Show up to the interview armed with several copies of your resume, your notes, a copy of the job description, detailed directions and any other paperwork the employer asks you to bring. Bring blank paper and a pen so you can take notes as well. Make sure all of this paperwork is neat (not crumpled in your pocket, for example) and nicely organized.

Don’t Be Late

Arriving late to an interview is the best way to convince your interviewers you are unreliable. Make sure you look up the location of the interview and know which building you will be going to. If the company you are interviewing with is local, I recommend doing a “dry run” and driving to the interview a day or two early, especially if you are like me and get lost constantly. Don’t go in, just make sure you know how to get there and how long it will take. On the day of the interview, allow yourself plenty of time to get to the interview location; if you end up arriving too early, you can review your notes, the job description and your resume before going in.

For a phone interview, make sure you are sitting by your phone at the scheduled time. If you don’t pick up when a recruiter calls, your resume may automatically move to the “no” pile.

Don’t Be Unprofessional

Act respectfully and professionally throughout the entire process whether you are speaking with the receptionist or the hiring manager and thank everyone for their time. Dress up for your interview and make sure you look put together. For most companies, men should wear a suit and tie and women should wear a business suit. Iron your outfit and shine your shoes. Women- don’t wear anything that could be considered provocative (no cleavage, short skirts, or 5 inch heels). Don’t get me wrong- the interview process isn’t a fashion show and doesn’t require a shopping spree- but you don’t want a wrinkled shirt to leave a lasting negative impression with the manager. Plus, at least for me, the better I look the more confident I feel.

Don’t Fail to Engage with the Interviewers

The people you are meeting with will have to spend 40 hours a week with you- they are looking for someone they can get along with. Be professional, but also be yourself. Smile, make eye contact, and have fun with the interviewers. Because you have googled your interviewers and know about their work, you can ask questions and let them talk about themselves (most people love talking about themselves). The interview should be a conversation, not just you talking.

Pay attention to your body language as well. Sit up straight and comfortably in the chair and don’t cross your arms or fidget. Shake the hands of the people you meet with a firm handshake.

Don’t Underestimate the Importance of a Phone Interview

This seems like a no-brainer but it happens constantly. Find a quiet place where you will not be interrupted or distracted. If you will be talking on a cell phone, make sure you have good reception in the place you choose. Treat a phone interview just like an in person interview; prepare, be engaged, smile (I know it feels weird smiling to the phone but it does change the quality of your voice), and treat the interviewer’s time with respect.

There you have it- the most common interviewing mistakes recruiters see that you can now avoid. Join us in April to learn more about what not to do in the interview process.

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Becca McKnight

Becca McKnight

Senior Recruitment Specialist at Promega Corporation
Becca is a member of Promega’s Emotional and Social Intelligence (ESI) team where she gets to coach employees, teach classes related to self-awareness, mindfulness, empathy and relationship management skills and teach yoga during the lunch hour. She earned her BS in psychology with a minor in dance at the University of Iowa. In her free time you can find her dancing with her toddler, practicing yoga or cooking.


    1. Aside from the list above, just make sure the people you are meeting with know how interested you are in the job and the company. It is always nice meeting with someone who is well prepared and truly excited about the opportunity. Good luck with your interview!

  1. I’m new to the non military job industry. I’ve just done a few temp assignments and one position I left because it wasn’t what was described in the interview.

    Today in an interview I was asked about money.

    I said what I was making in a previous assignment, but it was really .75 less…and that I would take a little less than that because I wouldn’t be commuting as far.

    I didn’t ask about benefits…and, here’s where I really blew it. In the last position, I was given “X” amount of dollars for medical; if I picked a plan that cost less, I got the difference.

    There was also a 401K…

    The company today, is a small medical staffing firm. Been around 20 years.

    I didn’t address 1 single benefit…

    What do I do now if I’m offered the job?

    Can I recover from this total blunder?

  2. Just call your recruiter and let him/her know that you forgot to ask a few questions about benefits and compensation. I get questions all the time after interviewees leave campus and I’m more than happy to have a conversation with them. Recruiters understand that with the stress of the interview, it is easy to forget to ask something.

  3. Greetings Ms. Terdich,

    First, thank you so much for answering our questions. My question is directly related to Promega. Last October, I attended a job fair and met with a Promega representative, which led to the resume being incorporated into Promega’s system as a “pipeline candidate.” As my wife and I are in the process of moving to a new home in Wisconsin, I changed my address on the contact information form. Is it a good idea to change my address on the pipeline resume as well? Thanks a lot for the help. Warm regards,


  4. Hi Jayson,

    I’m glad you found the post helpful. With any company, I would recommend updating your contact information if your address has changed significantly or if you change your email address/phone number. If you have just moved to a new place in the same area, there is no need to make the change. You can do this by contacting the recruiter you met.

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