Before bringing in job applicants for in-person interviews, the candidates’ professional credentials and, in many cases, their online presence are well-screened by the HR department. Sometimes, only the most “social” (clean profiles, solid content, social proof of skills, etc.) make the cut.
Once in the interview, though, the wild card for ultimately receiving an offer is often which applicant displays a different kind of social skills. Specifically, the old-school kind.
A 2015 study found most old-school social blunders during interviews result from thoughtlessness or poor interpersonal skills — and those blunders often become deal breakers. Interviewees who can’t make conversation, talk nervously or continually check their phones leave a bad impression that even an impeccable resume or glowing online presence can’t offset
Pay attention to these seven old-school blunders during your next job interview:
1. Arriving Late
If interviewees arrive late, even when they have a legitimate excuse, they will have to make up for their tardiness by giving a stellar performance throughout their interview. Only if they can out-shine the other candidates with their confidence, insightful questions and relevant observations about the company will they deserve to remain on the candidate list.
2. A Weak Handshake
Much can be determined about a job candidate’s character from the initial handshake. If a person has a weak grip or a clammy palm you imply a lack of confidence and timidity that would make a bad fit in most work environments. Take great care to calm your nerves. Take big breaths to slow your heart rate. And be sure to dry the palm of your hand right before you extend your arm.
3. Unusual Clothing Choices
Professionalism comes across immediately through a candidate’s choice of interview attire. When an interviewee dresses casually, it sends a message that the person has a casual approach toward work. If the attire suggests an evening of clubbing, it implies an inability to know how to dress appropriately in a professional setting.
4. Unchecked Chit-chat
Interviewees who launch into lengthy explanations, pummel their interviewer with questions, or feel compelled to fill any silences with irrelevant prattle could later become the employees everyone seeks to avoid. Let this happen during your job interview and next thing you know, you’ll receive a rejection email.
5. Poor Body Posture
Body posture conveys a great deal about an applicant’s personality. Slumping signifies lack of confidence, leg swinging equates with nervousness, and arms folded against the chest demonstrate belligerence or arrogance. From the time you enter the lobby until you’ve left the parking lot, pay close attention to how you communicate through body posture.
6. Inadequate Verbal Skills
Candidates who use colloquial phrases or substitute “good” for “well,” can’t cut it in the professional world where written and verbal skills are paramount. Additionally, inappropriate or derogatory language equates to a lack of sophistication or self-censorship. When this happens, the employer will end the interview as quickly as possible.
7. Unprofessional Communication Channels
After the recruiter or hiring manager has culled through their lineup and selected a finalist, the next step is often to craft an email with a job offer. It’s then they see “hotmama” or “partyboy91” in your email handle. Or, if they call to make the offer, your voicemail picks up and blasts them with heavy metal music. When this happens, they’ll move on to your runner-up candidate, and your job search will continue.
Of course you need a solid resume to win the job search game. Yes, your online presence must be impeccable. But when it comes time to decide who gets the job offer, it is your old-school personal social skills that demonstrate the biggest difference between and your competition.
During your next job or internship interview, avoid these old-school blunders… and win the job offer.
About the Author: Vicky Oliver is a leading career development expert and the multi-best-selling author of five books, including 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions (Sourcebooks, 2005) and 301 Smart Answers to Tough Business Etiquette Questions (Skyhorse, 2010). She is a sought-after speaker and seminar presenter and a popular media source, having made over 700 appearances in broadcast, print, and online outlets. For more information, visit vickyoliver.com.