Job interview? Eight reasons you won't get the role

Looking for a new job and finding yourself on the receiving end of a stream of knockbacks?

With unemployment running above 6 per cent at the time of writing, it's a buyers' market in many industries, with some employers and recruitment firms reporting dozens of responses for every role posted.

A slick CV and sound technical skills can be a foot in the door but that's as far as you'll go if your personal presentation is poor, warns etiquette expert Anna Musson, who runs workshops to help jobseekers present a polished package.

"Being thoughtful and polite – we might not articulate that this is what we're looking for in an employee, but in a job interview people are always watching," Musson says.

"Nobody wants to work with someone who seems rude … being warm, polite and engaging is what will get you over the line."

Dress, conduct and presence – looking the part, acting the part and appearing the part – are the three areas individuals should focus on, Musson says.

Typically, potential employers clock a series of small impressions that come together to create their opinion of a candidate - positive or otherwise.

And then there are deal-breakers – the faux pas that will see your application consigned to the circular file without further ado.

Executive Style polled employers and employment experts for the bloopers that make them hold back on prospective hires.


1. Something came up

Had your interview scheduled for 10am on Friday, but then something came up? Not if you want to work for Liquid Infusion Mobile Bar Service founder Ben Neumann.

"Casually rescheduling your interview, regardless of the reason, puts you a step behind," he says.

"Got something more important on? No, you don't. Car trouble? Order a taxi. Miscellaneous emergency? Call from the hospital and make sure it comes across as legitimate as possible, because there are a lot of slackers out there."

2. Near enough? Good enough

You're there. Not quite on time, but hey, what's a couple of minutes? Plenty, if you don't call ahead or at least mention your tardiness upon arrival, Neumann says.

"This is a sign of things to come and a sign of someone who will have no hesitation pushing the boundaries further and further."

3. Drinking it in

Needing a caffeine hit before you answer those curly questions? Slurping or sipping your way through an interview is a bad look, Arielle Careers founder Irene McConnell says.

Drink up and get rid of the evidence beforehand, if you hope to shine.

"Don't bring your coffee, kale smoothie or whatever else into the interview room," she says.

4. Making yourself at home

Interviewing via Skype or video conference? You might be at home, but kicking back is a major no-no, Employment Office managing director Tudor Marsden-Huggins warns.

Dress appropriately for any job interview - whether face to face or not - and if the latter, ensure the moggy or pooch are in another room  while you're being put through your paces, he advises.

"One candidate who was being interviewed for a customer service role had his cat sitting on his lap for the duration of the interview and was stroking him the whole time," Marsden-Huggins says.

"It was not only distracting and unprofessional, it also came across as a little creepy."

Comfort breaks should also be off-limits if the interview is via phone or video, Marsden-Huggins adds: "[It] can be really off-putting when the interviewer hears the toilet flush."

5. Flicking the charm switch

Ready to turn on the charm for your interviewers, but can't be bothered mustering a smile for the receptionist?

Major mistake, Musson says. Their opinion on how you conducted yourself, before and after you're ushered into the meeting room, may be sought by those doing the hiring.

"Are you on your phone the whole time, or chatty and delightful?" she says.

6. Phone fiddling

Are you hard-wired to answer phone calls, texts or Tweets, no matter what? Suppress the urge if it rings during an interview, if you want to nail the gig.

"For some people you'd think you'd asked them to hold their breath," Musson says. "Keep it off and out of sight. Make that Tinder date wait!"

7. Talk, talk, talk

Got lots to say? That's fine, up to a point – but then put a sock in it, if you want Fred Schebesta, the co-founder of comparison website Finder, to hire you.

"Confidence is one thing, but being too talkative is a deal-breaker for me," he says. "If a candidate dominates the interview, I find that offensive."

8. Sharing overload

Social media has spawned the age of over-sharing but for job seekers, less should be considered more when it comes to personal disclosures, Marsden-Huggins believes.

"Candidates sometimes provide too much information regarding a serious illness, family breakdown or divorce," he says.

And if you can't say something nice about a former employer, consider saying nothing at all.

"It never ceases to amaze me how many candidates trash their former employers, sometimes even divulging sensitive company information, and expect this behaviour to stand them in good stead for a new role."