Good job! You’ve landed an interview for a sought-after position.
You can gain confidence knowing that your professional credentials passed the human resource department’s scrutiny.
But keep in mind, the ultimate decision will have as much to do with your display of social skills in the interview as how well you fit the job description.
In job interviews, social skills are on par with professional credentials when employers rank the candidates. Any social slip-ups in interviews will steer hiring managers away from job candidates.
A 2015 study found that most social blunders during interviews result from thoughtlessness or poor interpersonal skills — and those blunders often become deal-breakers.
Career expert Vicky Oliver, a bestselling author of five books, including 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions, warns that interviewees who can’t make conversation, talk incessantly, or continually check their phones leave a bad impression that not even an impeccable resume or glowing reference can offset.
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Here are seven social blunders that Oliver says an interviewee must avoid to remain a viable candidate:
1. Showing up late
Even when you have a legitimate excuse, walking in late will try your interviewer’s patience and will blow your chances for the job. Period. The interviewer will think you feel that you’re entitled, and will scratch you off the list.
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2. Making a meek first impression
Employers tend to make up their minds about a job candidate within the first few minutes of the interview.
From the initial handshake, they can ascertain the strength of a job candidate’s character. If you have a weak grip, a clammy palm, or won’t make eye contact, you imply a lack of confidence and timidity that would make a bad fit in most work environments. Make sure to start with a firm grip.
3. Wearing unfitting attire
Your professionalism comes across immediately through your choice of interview attire. If you dress too casually (even if the organization has a relaxed work environment), it sends a message that you have a casual approach toward work. Or, if your appearance suggests an evening of clubbing, it implies an inability to decipher the appropriate dress code for professional settings.
4. Exhibiting 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.
Pay close attention to the cues communicated through your body posture. Hiring managers will read them accordingly.
5. Appearing excessively chatty
Interviewees who pummel the interviewer with questions, prattle on in their answers or feel compelled to fill any silence with chit-chat will have hiring managers recoiling from the candidate’s unchecked verbosity. Let this happen during your job interview and you’ll soon receive a rejection email.
6. Using unsuitable language
Poor grammar is code for poor communications skills. Candidates who use colloquial phrases or are very informal with language won’t cut it in the professional world where written and verbal skills are paramount.
Additionally, inappropriate or derogatory language shows a lack of sophistication or self-censorship. If you show any signs of inadequate communication skills, expect the interview to end quickly.
7. Sharing unprofessional communication channels
After hiring managers cull through their lineup and select a finalist, they get ready to send an email with the job offer. But then they see “hotmama” in your handle. Or, they call to make you an offer and your voicemail blasts them with heavy metal music. No question they’ll move on to their runner-up candidate and you’ll be back to sending out resumes again.
The bottom line in any job interview is to be on your best behavior. Any lapse in social skills is an important criterion that employers will definitely consider when making their hiring decisions. Do your best to convey an upbeat attitude, appropriate discretion, and proper etiquette.
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