The 10 biggest interview mistakes, according to employers

11 September 2020 3 min. read

While many businesses spent the last four years complaining that there was a ‘talent shortage’ across the world’s largest economies, the criteria they set for applicants during the recruitment process are likely seeing them squander human resources. A new poll of employers has found that bosses see a weak handshake or apologising unnecessarily as two of the biggest mistakes to make in an interview.

According to the poll of some 2,750 employers by StandOut-CV, the biggest sins prospective employees could commit in the interview stage of the recruitment process are not knowing anything about the company, and arriving late.

“You should aim to arrive 10 minutes early to an interview, but not any earlier. Arriving too early can be hugely disruptive to a hiring manager’s schedule,” stated a spokesperson from StandOut-CV. 

While it is easy to understand why these criteria might put bosses off applicants, however, the criteria which followed in ‘the 10 biggest mistakes to make in an interview’ according to employers were increasingly arbitrary. Over six-in-ten employers took particular exception to how people dressed for interviews, for example.

The 10 biggest interview mistakes, according to employers

Traditionally, this might have been seen as an indicator of the way people might behave at work – with employers scanning the clothing of their potential red-flags that they might be trouble. Combined with a number of other signifiers of class, gender, sexuality, race and religion, this policy has helped to produce a mono-culture at the top of the majority of businesses – at a time when a mounting body of evidence suggests that improving diversity in the workplace can improve the long-term results of an organisation.

Meanwhile, talking too much or not enough was flagged up by 56% as another interview no-no, alongside 52% of employers who said they reject a good candidate if they do not receive an email follow-up after the interview. The contradictory stance suggests that a candidate can be both too eager in their approach, before punishing them for failing to continue pushing for an employer’s attention after an interview. This could be a particularly difficult set of criteria for people with introverted personalities to navigate, regardless of their actual ability to perform the tasks a job requires.

This could also arguably apply to many employers insisting that body language is key to the hiring process – in particular noting eye contact as a must. A defining characteristic of autism spectrum disorder is a difficulty in making or maintaining eye contact, a behaviour that not only makes social interactions harder, but can lead to miscommunication among cultures where eye contact is taken as a sign of trust and respect. In the US, where estimates suggest there are around 5.4 million people age 18 and older with autism, the 41% of bosses who prioritise this have about a 1 in 45 chance of writing a candidate off, regardless of their skill-set.

Most arbitrarily of all, however, almost a quarter of employers said a bad handshake was one of the biggest mistakes a job applicant could make in an interview. Precisely what qualifies as a good handshake is entirely subjective – not to mention during a global pandemic, it is surprising that business leaders are still determined to put employees to the test in this manner. At the same time, almost one-fifth of bosses said apologising “unnecessarily” would put them off possible employees.