Interview Blunders

Five things you didn't know that can mar your first impression

During an interview, your answers to questions are not all that matters. Nowadays, getting a job has as much to do with first impressions as it does with your experience.

Sometimes the most innocuous things can send subtle, yet negative, messages to the interviewer. “Within five minutes people have made up their minds; sometimes it’s five seconds,” says Marian J. Karpen, the New Yorkbased author of Career Crossroads: Ideas and Inspirations for Your Work/Life Journey (WorkWorld, $15). Karpen identifies five things to avoid during the interview process:

Meeting on the wrong day: Interviewing close to the weekend risks losing the full attention of most interviewers. “On Monday, they’re recovering from the weekend, and on Friday, they have it on their minds,” notes Karpen.

Wearing a brown suit: You want to project authority, empowerment, strength and confidence. Brown can be viewed as “mousy.” Stick to power colors, such as dark gray and navy.

Accepting beverages: Taking a cup of coffee may seem like the polite thing to do, but it can pose problems. You risk the chance of a spill or leaving a mark on the interviewer’s desk.

Playing musical chairs: Avoid sitting on a couch: it might not offer you the posture support you need to project an aura of confidence. Also, don’t be the first to sit down; you might pick a seat that won’t put you in the direct gaze of the interviewer.

Being a babbling brook: “Keep it short and smart,” says Karpen. Your answers should be brief and explain how you plan to enhance the company.

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