Bizarre encounters: new survey reveals strange behaviour in job interviews

The survey, which quizzed some 2600 managers with hiring experience, was commissioned by CareerBuilder

A recent study of HR and recruitment managers has revealed that some of us resort to extremely strange behaviour during job interviews. As well as uncovering the worst candidate interview faux pas and making them public to provide a cautionary tale for us all, the study reveals the body language and attitudes which turn managers off.

The strangest behaviour

Amongst the interview incidents reported were some truly gobsmacking errors. There was the guy who sat eating a pizza during the interview. Then there was the candidate who asked the interviewer out for dinner. Even worse was the clearly confused individual who brought his childhood toys to the interview, and the one who bragged about being accused of theft in the local press.

Body language

Examples like the ones above are extreme. However, most of us sometimes fall into more commonplace errors which could cost us dearly if we don’t address them before attending our next job interview. The CareerBuilder survey also found that 51% of managers decide if your face fits or not within five minutes of your walking in the door. Most importantly, much of this has to do with body language or nonverbal communication.

So it seems that, as the song goes, ‘ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it’ may be true. A Princeton University study in 2013 concluded that intense emotion is better conveyed by the body than by words. Your body can easily betray you. Despite saying all the right words, if you don’t truly believe what you are saying, your body will convey this to those on the other side of the table.

Common body language faux pas

The CareerBuilder survey reveals the many mannerisms that turn managers off. Amongst them are forgetting to smile, a handshake that is too weak or too strong, fidgeting, playing with hair, playing with something on the table, not making eye contact, bad posture and crossing arms over the chest.

These are all things that are easily done. We are so busy practising the correct verbal responses that we often neglect to keep tabs on our body language.

Attitudes that offend managers

Another factor to consider, according to the survey, is that certain combinations of mannerisms and words can convey attitudes that make you unappealing as potential employment material. Amongst the behaviours that made managers cringe were inappropriate dress, mobile phone use during the interview, arrogance, entitlement, lying and lack of accountability.

The bottom line

The CareerBuilder survey echoes the results of a 2014 College Atlas study which found that the way we dress, act and walk has way more impact (55%) on the first impressions people have of us than mere words, which according to this research accounts for a mere 7%.

The moral? Pay attention to the nonverbal signals you are conveying to others during everyday interactions. Day to day life provides us with plenty of opportunities to rehearse the body language that will help us immensely when it comes to impressing potential employers.

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The British Institute of Recruiters is the Professional Body operating The Recruitment Certification Scheme

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