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Employers Reveal Outrageous and Common Mistakes Candidates Made in Job Interviews, According to New CareerBuilder Survey

Career Expert Offers Tips on How to Ace an Interview

CHICAGO, January 12, 2011 – With competition for open positions remaining high, the added pressure and stress may be causing some job seekers to make unnecessary mistakes during their interviews that could cost them the job. A new nationwide CareerBuilder survey of more than 2,400 hiring managers conducted November 15 to December 2, 2010 reveals the outrageous and common mistakes that some candidates have made in job interviews.


When asked what the most outrageous blunders they had encountered interviewing candidates were, hiring managers reported the following:

  • Provided a detailed listing of how previous employer made them mad.

  • Hugged hiring manager at the end of the interview.

  • Ate all the candy from the candy bowl while trying to answer questions.

  • Constantly bad mouthed spouse.

  • Blew her nose and lined up the used tissues on the table in front of her.

  • Brought a copy of their college diploma that had obviously been white-outed and their name added.

  • Wore a hat that said “take this job and shove it.”

  • Talked about how an affair cost him a previous job.

  • Threw his beer can in the outside trashcan before coming into the reception office.

  • Had a friend come in and ask “HOW MUCH LONGER?”

In addition to the most unusual gaffes, employers shared the most common mistakes candidates made during an interview:

  • Answering a cell phone or texting during the interview – 71 percent

  • Dressing inappropriately – 69 percent

  • Appearing disinterested – 69 percent

  • Appearing arrogant – 66 percent

  • Speaking negatively about a current or previous employer – 63 percent

  • Chewing gum – 59 percent

  • Not providing specific answers – 35 percent

  • Not asking good questions – 32 percent

“The good news is that the number of open jobs continues to improve month over month, however competition will remain high for some time to come," said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources for CareerBuilder. "The goal of any interview is to stand out from the other candidates and ultimately land the job, but make sure you stand out for the right reasons. Even though the job search process can be frustrating, candidates should stay positive, focus on their strengths and be prepared on how to best sell their skill set.”

Haefner offers the following tips for successful interviews in a competitive job market:

  • Keep it upbeat: Many job seekers may be experiencing tougher than usual job searches in this economy. Even if your job search process has been frustrating, do what you can to remain positive and upbeat.

  • Prepare, prepare, prepare: Before the interview, research the company by looking at the press room for recent announcements, the About Us section for company culture, and the list of products so you are familiar with their offerings. Having this knowledge will allow you to easily answer and ask questions during the interview.

  • Keep it professional, not personal: Don’t let business decorum disappear even in the interview is in a casual setting. Refrain from discussing over-the-top personal issues and focus on the position and selling yourself.

  • Practice does make perfect: Nerves are likely to rear their head in an interview, so help calm them ahead of time by practicing. Go through common interview questions with a friend or family member and practice in front of mirror so you can see your body language.

  • Honesty is the best policy: If questions come up that you don’t know how to answer, don’t lie or pretend you know. Admit that you may not know the answer, but then explain how you would go about finding a solution, proving your resourcefulness.

Survey Methodology
This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Interactive© on behalf of CareerBuilder among 2,482 U.S. hiring managers (employed full-time; not self-employed; non-government) ages 18 and over between November 15 and December 2, 2010 (percentages for some questions are based on a subset, based on their responses to certain questions). With a pure probability sample of 2,482 one could say with a 95 percent probability that the overall results have a sampling error of +/- 1.97 percentage points. Sampling error for data from sub-samples is higher and varies.

About CareerBuilder®
CareerBuilder is the global leader in human capital solutions, helping companies target and attract their most important asset – their people. Its online career site, CareerBuilder.com®, is the largest in the United States with more than 23 million unique visitors, 1 million jobs and 32 million resumes. CareerBuilder works with the world’s top employers, providing resources for everything from employment branding and data analysis. More than 9,000 websites, including 140 newspapers and broadband portals such as MSN and AOL, feature CareerBuilder’s proprietary job search technology on their career sites. Owned by Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE:GCI), Tribune Company, The McClatchy Company (NYSE:MNI) and Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), CareerBuilder and its subsidiaries operate in the United States, Europe, Canada and Asia. For more information, visit www.careerbuilder.com.

CareerBuilder Media Contact
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