Bringing Mom and Other Interview Flubs

Evidently, the candidate's mother, a businesswoman herself, was her son's mentor, and junior wanted Mama to sit in on the interview. Unimpressed, Lee pulled the plug on the interview before it even began, informing the candidate, "I can tell you right now that this is not going to work out."

It may seem obvious, but you don't want to give a potential employer reason to think you can't stand on your own two feet. Leave your next of kin, pet poodle or life coach at home. (I kid you not -- these are all actual "guests" brought to interviews by job candidates.)

4. Let 'Em See You Sweat

I'll spare you the details of the would-be temp who peed in the interview chair or the hopeful summer intern who showed up to the interview with a bad stomach flu and repeatedly retched in the hiring manager's recycling bin. Instead, let's dissect every interviewer's most dreaded physical malady: Super-Sweaty Guy.

Marie VanAssendelft-Baker, a communications professional in Hoboken, N.J., encountered a perspiring prospect while trying to find an assistant during the summer. Although the guy was 90 minutes late, he offered no explanation.

"He was completely drenched in sweat, and the entire interview, was sweating nonstop all over the place," VanAssendelft-Baker says. "He wasn't even trying to brush it off."

I realize some people have health issues that cause them to perspire profusely, and that others bead up under pressure. To help you stay dry and appear confident, tuck a towel in your briefcase and mop up in the restroom right before your interview. For severe sweating problems, consider consulting a doctor. Like the commercial says, never let them see you sweat.

5. Ask Stupid Questions

"How long before I get your job?" is a perfect example of what not to ask.

So is "If you were a fruit, what fruit would you be?" which is what one prospective hire asked Laura Grimmer, CEO of Articulate Communications, a New York public relations firm.

"When we asked if she had any questions of us, she pulled out a sheet of paper and started quizzing us with queries that included 'Who is your favorite president and why?'" Grimmer says.

Forget the inane '70s game show questions. Instead, impress your potential employer by asking about something substantial: the team you'll be working with, the department's biggest obstacles or the company's plans for growth.

Can This Interview Be Saved?

Although most of the aforementioned interviews weren't salvageable -- after all, how does one recover after making a play for the boss's job or bringing a pet ferret to the interview? -- the average interview gaffe won't necessarily cost you the position.

If you butcher an answer or lose your train of thought, pause until you regain your bearings. Ask the interviewer to elaborate on any unclear questions if need be. Don't guess and don't ramble; interviewers can see right through such shenanigans.

If you accidentally call your interviewer by the wrong name or pull out a pen with their competitor's logo on it, issue a quick apology, defuse the situation with humor ("Blasted trade show swag!") and then move on. Interviewers know you may be nervous, and they know you're human. Many of them will give you the benefit of the doubt. Remind them on your way out the door that you're extremely interested in the job, and send a prompt thank-you note when you get home. With any luck, your faux pas will be pardoned.

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