It may never feel “normal” to sit across the table from perfect strangers and “sell yourself” to potential employers using just the right amount of self-promotion and humility. There’s nothing natural about trying to convince interviewers that you’re the best thing to happen since the invention of sliced bread – or even the smartphone – and yet, in spite of your greatness, you would consider it an honor and a privilege to work for their company.

But even in this unnatural environment, some of the interview behaviors and body languages are downright strange.

According to a CareerBuilder survey, some of the most bizarre behaviors include the following:

  • Candidate asked to step away to call his wife to ask her if the starting salary was enough before he agreed to continue with the interview.
  • Candidate asked where the nearest bar was located.
  • Candidate brought his childhood toys to the interview.
  • Candidate asked interviewer why her aura didn’t like the candidate.
  • Candidate stated that if the interviewer wanted to get to heaven, she would hire him.
  • Candidate ate crumbs off the table.
  • Candidate said her hair was perfect when asked why she should become part of the team.
  • Candidate bragged about being in the local newspaper for allegedly stealing a treadmill from an older woman’s house.

Hopefully, most job candidates aren’t making these types of egregious mistakes, but the survey notes that many candidates are making simple and avoidable mistakes. For example:

  • 67 % fail to make eye contact
  • 39 % fail to smile
  • 34 % play with something on the table
  • 32 % fidget too much in their seat
  • 32 % cross their arms over their chest

Other mannerisms that irk hiring managers include having bad posture, playing with your hair, having a weak handshake, having a handshake that’s too strong, and using too many hand gestures.

Bill Driscoll, district president at Accountemps, tells HER Magazine, “Sometimes, nerves get in the way of answering job interview questions appropriately. Take a lighthearted approach, trust your judgment and base your responses on how you feel the interview is going.”

Above all, Driscoll says candidates must remain calm and maintain eye contact. He admits that it’s sometimes hard to gauge a response to determine if it was well-received or not. However, if you make a mistake, he warns against dwelling on it, since you’ll be noticeably distracted.

“Instead, focus on putting your best foot forward during the remainder of the meeting.”

The Top 5 Worst Things You Can Do

According to CareerBuilder, when it comes to making a bad impression, these are the five deal breakers:

  • Caught lying about something
  • Answering a cellphone or text during the interview
  • Appearing arrogant or entitled
  • Dressing inappropriately
  • Appearing to lack accountability

Tips for Success

Ok, now that you know what you shouldn’t do, what can you do to ensure a successful interview? Prepare, prepare, prepare.

Brian Braudis, an executive coach and the president of The Braudis Group, tells HER Magazine the best way to be calm, prepared, and professional during an interview is to conduct research in advance.

“Do some homework and practice your answers about the company, why you’re interested in them, what appeals to you and how you see yourself fitting into their organization.”

While you should expect questions about yourself and your experience, he believes that you should practice those responses as well so you can be composed and respond articulately.

Sometimes, you may get a curveball question, and it’s important to maintain your unruffled demeanor.

“Interviewers may want to see how you operate in a challenging situation,” Braudis explains.

“Do you get flustered? Do you become agitated? Do you lose composure? Do you crumble under pressure?”

In fact, he believes that confidence is one of the key traits that hiring managers seek.

“Anyone can perform well as a cheerleader,” Braudis says. “What organizations really need are people (leaders) who can stay composed and perform when opinions are strong, emotions are elevated, and anxiety is palpable.”

To avoid culture shock, both parties should be asking the right questions, but candidates need to understand that companies are primarily concerned with you fitting into their environment – and being a results-oriented employee. Braudis says he served on a selection panel and every candidate was asked, “How do you view problems in the workplace?”

Braudis says the desired response was along the lines of, “I believe problems are opportunities for innovation and with the right leadership, I can help make this happen.” In other words, candidates need a “can-do” attitude.

While many people are uncomfortable in interviews, proper planning can help you avoid most mistakes. And by understanding why interviewers ask certain questions, you’ll be in a position to impress them with your responses and your mannerisms.

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