Dave Kerpen | The 12 Scariest Mistakes Made in Job Interviews
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The 12 Scariest Mistakes Made in Job Interviews

The 12 Scariest Mistakes Made in Job Interviews

In the US, Halloween is coming soon, the scariest time of year for some, and the most fun time of year for others. But no matter what time of year it is, going in for a job interview can be really scary.

What should you say? What should you not say? What should you do and not do? To get these answers, I chatted with leaders from the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. I asked them what the scariest mistakes they’ve seen made at job interviews are, and this is what they shared:

1. Lying About Past Job and Educational Experience

Seeing someone make up where they worked and went to school is horrifying to me because those things can be so instantly proved right or wrong with just a background check. Yet, the person lied anyways. It was just a huge mistake. I wish they would have been honest and just admitted that they did not have such a prestigious background.

Angela Ruth, Co-Founder and Marketing Director, Due

2. Being Late, Not Showing Up, or Not Showing Interest

The most horrific mistake someone can make throughout the interview process is wasting the interviewer’s time. Obviously, being late or not showing up are huge mistakes and will likely ensure you will not be offered a job. Likewise, if we talk for 20 minutes and you aren’t showing general interest in the company, I’m going to want to cut my losses and work on something more productive.

Tyler Hanway, CTO, Consumer Brands, LLC

3. Forgetting What Position You Applied For

I called a candidate once about 20 minutes after he had submitted his online application to us. After speaking to him for about 15 minutes he asked, “What company and position is this for again?” He then continued, and decided to add few swear words in there for added impressions.

Magnus Simonarson, President, Consultwebs

4. Dressing Too Casually

Often times, when interviewing a potential candidate, I find it is important to look at the small things. Dress code is very important for a couple reasons: I like people who are dressed for success as well as people who look/feel confident about themselves. I once had an interviewee who showed up on a bicycle wearing flip flops, old shorts, and a cutoff tee shirt. Just so happens he was NOT hired.

Tommy Mello, Owner, A1 Garage Door Service

5. Bad-Mouthing a Previous Employer

A candidate who bad-mouths their previous employer shows a decided lack of respect that you don’t want in your own business. Whether their position is justified or not, you don’t want someone who is willing to spread negative news about your business. If someone is willing to tell all about their past employer, that’s a red flag to avoid them.

Nicole Munoz, Founder, CEO, Start Ranking Now

6. Not Knowing Anything About the Company You’re Interviewing For

I couldn’t believe anyone wouldn’t do their research on the company that they are interviewing for, but I had that happen with a candidate I interviewed. They didn’t know much about what we did, which made me wonder why they even wanted to work here.

Murray Newlands, President, Due.com

7. Pronouncing a Company Name Incorrectly

It really pays to do your homework when you are going in for an interview. One immediate red flag for me is if they pronounce the company name incorrectly. After a slip-up like that, the interview is doomed to fail.

Yaniv Masjedi, CMO – VP, Marketing, Nextiva

8. Acting Too Confident

In technical fields, certain personality types get it into their head they are superstars. I’ve seen interviews degenerate into heated arguments because the interviewee forcefully disagreed with the interviewer about a trivial technical issue. I want confident employees, but an arrogantly combative personality won’t get you hired, even if you are almost as knowledgeable as you think you are.

Justin Blanchard, CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER / CO-OWNER, ServerMania Inc.

9. Overstating Your Abilities

We had one person who came in to interview for an accounting job and I asked them on a scale of 1-10 how proficient they were at financial accounting. They told me they were a 10. I then asked them a hard accounting question and they answered with “I don’t know.” Don’t overstate your abilities if you’re applying for a technical or skill-oriented job.

Ross Resnick, CEO, Roaming Hunger

10. Disclosing Too Much Information

I am often working beside my employees when we need to get something out quickly or we are in a bind. I had a candidate walk in the door one day while I was working in shipping and I was just casually talking to her while I finished up. She admitted several things during that conversation that disqualified her from working for my company. She was surprised when I introduced myself afterwards.

Alisha Navarro, President, 2 Hounds Design

11. Referencing the Wrong Company

I was interviewing someone for a position and they said, “I’m so excited to start working for [the wrong company name!].” No matter how good the interview was, I immediately decided they would not be working for me.

Jayna Cooke, CEO, EVENTup

12. Leaving Without a Word

A candidate from out of town was acing his interviews. He flew in, impressed everyone with his 30-60-90 and delighted in one-on-ones. But before his final interview, he literally vanished. Eventually, he responded from the airport. He didn’t want to miss his flight so he just got up and left. He had plenty of time before takeoff, and it was a good thing — he needed it to search for another position.

AJ Brustein, Co-founder, CEO, Wonolo 

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