Despite the drop in the unemployment rate, getting a job these days is no slam dunk. There is usually plenty of competition for the good jobs, and employers want to be sure they are getting the right person before making a commitment.
That's why the job interview is still a very important step in getting that first job or moving up in your career. Your resume may have gotten you in the door, but it is up to you to close the deal with the interviewer.
So CareerBuilder.com's annual list of the strangest job interviews may prove helpful in avoiding the kind of faux pas that can immediately put an end to your chances. This year's list is so strange it almost defies credulity.
If you bring pizza, at least offer to share
Among the strange things hiring managers report is the candidate whose first question was where was the nearest bar, or the candidate who brought, and ate a pizza during the interview – and didn't offer to share!
One hiring manager said a candidate asked her out to dinner after the interview. One candidate asked the hiring manager why her aura didn't like the candidate. Another candidate picked up crumbs off the table during the interview and ate them.
Okay, these are some pretty outlandish, over-the-top actions that just about everyone knows would torpedo chances of employment. But the hiring managers in the survey offered up some other, not so obviously crazy actions that could prevent you from landing the job.
Make eye contact
Two thirds of hiring managers said they were bothered by candidates who failed to make eye contact. More than a third said they downgraded a candidate who never smiled.
Nearly as many cited candidates with nervous ticks, either fidgeting in their seats or playing with something on the table. Handshakes that were either too strong or too week were also turn-offs.
Some of the mistakes cited by hiring managers might be due to nervousness on the part of the candidate, but Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer for CareerBuilder, says that's easily avoided.
"The best solution to minimize pre-interview anxiety is solid preparation," she said. "If you don't read about the company and research your role thoroughly, you could magnify your fear of interviewing poorly and lose the opportunity."
Simple courtesy is also a basic requirement. You don't take a phone call or answer a text during a job interview, as more than a few hiring managers reported.
Being normal, it seems, could give you a leg up in the job market.