You can sink your chances of getting hired by freezing up at the interview

You can sink your chances of getting hired by freezing up at the interview

Most people bring copies of their resumes to interviews, but one woman showed up at the Lower East Side offices of Finder.com with a birthday cake, candles and a lighter.

“We were like, ‘What?’ ” says Jon Brodsky, country manager for the Australian personal finance comparison Web site.

“It’s my birthday,” he remembers the job candidate saying, explaining that she was new to Manhattan and hadn’t made any friends yet. “I guess this was her opportunity to have someone sing to her and watch her blow out her candles,” Brodsky says.

“Interviews can cause people to act like weirdos,” says workplace psychologist Dr. Joel Mausner, whose consulting company Workplace Psychology has offices in Midtown and White Plains. In most cases stress is the culprit, says Mausner, but career coach Nicole Rae Drummond found that sometimes people think gimmicks will impress prospective employers.

But, she says, “They usually don’t, and cause them to feel uncomfortable.”

Richard Laermer, CEO of RLM Public Relations in Murray Hill, says that he is a hit at cocktail parties because of all the wacky interview stories he has to share.

“One woman came dressed in culottes and sandals, like we were at the beach,” he says. “Then there was the guy who talked about his sexuality the entire time, and never even asked about the job. Another actually told me my outfit didn’t match. And then there was the one who, shortly after the interview started, announced that he was at the wrong company and walked out the door.”

The last was probably due to a panic attack says Mausner, who suggests that inhaling deeply and counting to three before saying or doing anything might help. “The pause isn’t long enough for anyone to notice,” he says.

Steve Wang, an associate at Goldman Sachs who also runs a career blog, once interviewed a woman who wanted to take a picture with him at the end of the interview so that she could “remember this experience.” Another job applicant stood up while he answered several of the interview questions while everyone else stayed seated.

Peter Yang, founder of ResumeGo, spent more than a decade as a human-resources manager at Hewlett-Packard and has had job seekers bring gifts — expensive chocolates and even coffee grinders — that caused him and his fellow interviewers to feel ill at ease.

“I tried declining the gifts at first. It’s unprofessional to both give and accept gifts during interviews,” says Yang, but after seeing how adamant the job seekers were, he ultimately took them.

Hiring managers say that they understand that job candidates are going to be nervous and stressed and that one way to quell the anxiety is to spend time prepping for the interview. Drummond recommends doing your research on the company and the people you’ll be meeting via corporate Web sites such as LinkedIn and even Facebook.

“This is a great way to find out what to wear,” he says, because most companies have photos of their employees at work on these sites. “You can walk in looking like you belong.”

Drummond also suggests that you look for what you have in common with the people you’ll be meeting, such as whether you went to the same schools, champion the same causes, raise money for the same charities, root for the same teams and so on.

“These might give you an idea about their personalities and values,” she says, adding that if the opportunity presents itself, it’s fine to talk about your research during the conversation. “It shows that you are interested and that you’ve taken time to prepare.”

Bringing a notebook with bullet points of topics you want to cover is pretty much a must, according to Drummond. “People sometimes ‘black out’ when they are stressed and forget about everything they planned to say. This will save you,” she says.

Dev Aujla, a recruiter and author of “50 Ways To Get a Job” (TarcherPerigee) says that heading into the interview with an attitude of gratitude goes a long way.

“Be thankful for the occasion of the interview,” he says, explaining that the research you do to prepare for the meeting ultimately makes you smarter. So, whether you get the job or not, it’s a gift.

One of his other recommendations is to align yourself with your employer-to-be so that there is a mission fit and a skills fit you can talk about. And bringing a gift along, in Aujla’s eyes, is actually a good idea, but it has to be something like a printout on white paper of something that might be useful to the company, or telling them about a new meetup they might like.

“What you want to do is share information and have a conversation rather than talking about yourself the whole time,” says Aujla.
if you are nervous?

“Lead with listening. Let go of the idea that you’re there to prove yourself.”

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