Stupid Interview Mistakes: Letting Yourself Be Distracted

By Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter
I’ve been hearing about this from managers and HR people I coach who are meeting people in-person again. Let me explain the mistake to you.

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More and more firms are bringing people back to the office to interview. And what I found is one of the dumb interview mistakes that people are making is they’re letting themselves be distracted by their phone while they’re waiting. They’re not being aware of their environment, and thus surprised when someone comes out to greet them. That throws off your balance and equilibrium, you feel unprepared, and kind of get startled, because you’re distracted. You’re also not focusing on your mental preparation for the beginning of the interview, when they decide whether or not to pay attention within five minutes, of you starting the interview. They can be very polite and cordial. But after five minutes, they’ve figured out whether or not to pay attention to anything you’re saying.

I always remember this story about when I still did recruiting. I was visiting a client of mine at one of the banks. And there was a settee in the reception area, where on one side of it, you can have a doorway, behind the right shoulder. And opposite was another door. There was also one against the wall where you could see both doorways and someone coming out to greet you.

Someone I watched, became engrossed in their copy of The New York Times. It was a rainy day. They had an umbrella, raincoat, a hat, the New York Times, and the person who came out to greet them came out over their right shoulder. And they were startled when they heard their name. They now had to fold the newspaper, pick up their coat, their hat, their umbrella, their briefcase (people used briefcases then), and they were startled. I know, the first couple of minutes were bad for this person, because I could see how thrown off they were.

Admittedly, you won’t have a newspaper with you; you’ll have your phone and that’s going to be the distraction for you if you let it be that way. You’re gonna be kept waiting for two minutes and called in. But I think you’re best served by reviewing any notes you have on your phone about the interview, about the person that you’re meeting with and then focusing on the handshake, the smile, and being ready when they call your name to come in for the interview.

I’m Jeff Altman. Hope you find this helpful. My website is Go there and go exploring. There’s just gonna be a lot there to help you in the blog. And you can also schedule time for a free discovery call with me, schedule time for a coaching session. I’m great at interview preparation. I really am. Find out about my courses about interviewing, my books and guides. There’s a lot there that will help you and I’ll also encourage you to connect with me on Linkedin at Have a terrific day and most importantly, be great!

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Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves career coaching, as well as executive job search coaching, job coaching, and interview coaching. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with over 2400 episodes.

Are you interested in 1:1 coaching, interview coaching, advice about networking more effectively, how to negotiate your offer or leadership coaching? People hire me to provide No BS career advice whether that is about a job search, hiring better, leadership, management or support with a workplace issue. Schedule a discovery call at my website, 

My courses are available on my The courses include ones about Informational InterviewsInterviewing, final interview preparation, salary negotiation mistakes to avoidthe top 10 questions to prepare for on any job interview, and starting a new job.

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