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by Emily Heaslip via Vervoe | May 29, 2019


Nightmares about job interviews are common among adults, and it’s easy to see why. Job interviews are stressful. Horror stories of interviews gone wrong are all over the Internet. And while they may be fun to read, we all know it’s not easy to get through a job interview without making at least one mistake. 

What does a “perfect” interview really mean anyway? Interviewers have disqualified candidates for everything from being late to being too attractive. Candidate error is just one factor in the overall equation; and it’s all too common to make a mistake under pressure. At the end of the day, it’s up to recruiters and hiring managers to decide whether a mistake is due to anxiety or a sign that the candidate is a bad match for the organization. 

Below are some of the most common, but forgivable, interview mistakes that recruiters and hiring managers should overlook.

1. Sounding rehearsed

Many candidates don’t make it through the first-round interview because they sound too stiff. Recruiters lose interest when a candidate sounds like they’ve memorized their answers. It’s hard to get a good sense of who that person is when they answer questions like a robot.

However, recruiters should consider that the problem isn’t the candidate’s presentation; it’s likely the questions recruiters are asking. Candidates apply to dozens of jobs during their search. Eventually, all the interview questions start to sound the same. Recruiters should avoid asking outdated, ubiquitous interview questions that applicants answer at nearly every job interview. So, if recruiters find that their candidates sound a bit canned, they should try a different approach in the next round.

2. Talking too much

The opposite of a candidate who sounds rehearsed is a candidate who is too chatty. Anxiety or under-preparation is usually the driver behind a candidate who talks at length. Talking too much is usually seen by recruiters as a red flag. What if a candidate talks too much in a client presentation? Will this person be a distraction when working in teams?

However, it’s not necessarily fair to assume that chattiness is a sign of weakness. It could be a sign of under preparation, or it could be a lack of experience: two factors that job training can address. But for recruiters who don’t have time to spend all day in an interview, using a one-way video interview can help. Generally, we’re against putting restrictive timers on pre-recorded videos. What if the candidate has technical difficulties? But, recruiters can set the time to be long enough to account for technical glitches while still cutting down on nervous chatter.

3. Immediately responding to an interview request

Some recruiters consider replying to an interview request right away to be a red flag. Likewise, following up “too much” can make a candidate seem needy or desperate. In today’s hyper-connected society, expecting a candidate to wait an appropriate amount of time is a little too selective.

But it could be that a candidate follows up because so few companies are transparent about their process. While talking to candidates, hiring managers should make sure to be upfront about their timeline and next steps. Managing expectations can help prevent any lingering confusion or excessive follow up from potential new hires.

4. Asking questions on the fly

Most hiring experts recommend that candidates prepare their own questions to ask near the end of their interviews. And all too often, recruiters disqualify candidates who ask questions “on the fly.” But why? Asking questions that aren't pre-rehearsed can show genuine interest. A candidate who comes up with questions on the spot is engaged, paying attention, and quick on their feet. Recruiters should prefer that over a candidate who simply pays lip service to the interview script.

5. Not bringing a hard copy of your resume

It’s time to go green! If recruiters want a hard copy of your resume, they're capable of printing it out themselves. Some recruiters see not bringing a hard copy a sign that the candidate is under-prepared or careless. In reality, many people don’t have access to a printer. It’s an arbitrary ask that recruiters use to disqualify a candidate from making it to the next round. Wouldn’t recruiters rather see candidates show their real-world skills rather than their ability to press print?

Emily Heaslip is a content writer at Vervoe.

Another version of this post previously appeared on Vervoe.