Beware of Hidden Interview Pitfalls

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Suit. Check
Two hours of company research. Check
Three hours practicing answers to interview questions. Check
Extra copies of resume. Check
Fancy leather folder thingy to hold extra copies of resume. Check
Limp, wet handshake. Huh?

All the expert interview advice and all the practice in the world still might not prepare you for hidden traps that can trip you up and foil your job interview.

Weak Handshake
Science backs up what the etiquette books have been saying all along, that a firm handshake helps make a good first impression for both males and females. A University of Alabama study found there is a substantial relationship between the features that characterize a firm handshake (strength, vigor, duration, eye contact and completeness of grip) and a favorable first impression.

The proper handshake should be firm, with an energy that communicates sincerity, strength and professionalism, says Dianne M. Daniels, a certified image coach and author of Polish and Presence: 31 Days to a New Image. Extend your arm with your hand outstretched with thumb straight up. Slide your hand into the other person's until your webs touch and give a firm, not squeezing, pump.

Not Asking Questions
Not asking an interview questions sends a signal that you don't know enough about the business to ask an intelligent question, or it shows that you don't see yourself within the environment of the company. At best, it shows a lack of creativity. Your questions do more than show your interest; they can also provide valuable information you can use in assessing the job.

If you are a good listener, you should be able to follow up on something the interviewer said during your visit. Ask him or her to expand on what was said. This shows you were attentive and also shows where your interests lie.

Most career counselors advise applicants to have a number of questions rehearsed and ready to go. Many of the prepared topics will be discussed during the course of the interview, but there should be some left over at the end. Have several ready so you can return the serve.

Employment Background Check
Statistics show that the number of companies conducting background checks is growing. For some jobs, screening is required by federal or state law. For others, it's a way for employers to learn more about each candidate and ensure the hiring decisions they make are good ones.

Some employers will use your credit history to gauge your level of responsibility. Whether a valid assumption or not, employers who run credit checks are likely to believe that if you are not reliable in paying your bills, then you will not be a reliable employee. Unfortunately, a bad credit report can work against you in your search for employment.

So you won't be surprised, you can do your own check and make sure the information is correct. Order a copy of your credit report, check court and DMV records and ask to see a copy of your personnel file from your old job. One option CareerBuilder.com offers is SureCheck, which enables job seekers to increase their marketability by pre-screening their own personal histories and credentials for potential employers.

Brainteaser Questions
Tell me about yourself. Why does this job interest you? How many quarters would you have to stack to reach the top of the Empire State Building? Designed to measure candidates' intelligence, creativity and analytical skills, brainteasers and logic questions often involve obscure subjects.

Recruiters aren't that concerned with whether a candidate comes up with the precise answer, but rather insight into their thought process and whether they work thorough problems in a logical manner.

These types of questions are meant to make you think on your feet; the trick is to start big and take it one step at a time. The only sure-fire way to fail at these questions is to be stumped. Offer up your ideas even if they seem bizarre.

Last Updated: 24/09/2007 - 3:50 PM


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