Never do this in a job interview
KAREN Gately will never forget an interview with a jobseeker who pulled out his phone, popped it on the table - and answered it when it rang midway through.
"I was utterly astounded - clearly that was the end of the whole process, because it was beyond self-absorbed and rude," Ms Gately said.
The people management specialist, a director and founder of human resources firm Ryan Gately, said rudeness was always a job application-killer - and that first impressions count.
"A lack of respect is a big mistake - when you walk in the front door, the way you engage with the receptionist or the person who greets you matters and you should never come across as rude or superior," she said.
"Pay attention to all parties in the interview panel - sometimes a candidate will decide to speak directly to the hiring manager and not address the HR specialist.
"I've even seen a candidate who was asked a question by a HR person then turn to look at the hiring manager and talk to them instead."
Ms Gately said what you wear could also be as important as what you say, and she urged applicants to research the culture of the organisation and dress accordingly.
"Whatever the typical work attire is, make sure you come in a neat, polished version of that - never make being sexy or seductive your goal," she said.
"I saw one woman arrive at her interview with a plunging neckline and a short skirt and when she walked in, she winked at a male on the interviewing panel.
"If you behave that way, it's not going to serve you well."
Other commonsense tips are to turn up prepared - and on time.
"Know what the job you are going for actually is, know why you are there and give some thought to why you have turned up," Ms Gately said.
"Being on time shows it is important to you. Most employers will understand an occasional unavoidable hiccup but it is always better to be early.
"Another thing we see people do in interviews is get into debates and arguments, saying things like 'yeah, but …' and 'I see your point, but …' Your behaviour in the interview reflects how you will behave in the job and if you can't be constructive in the interview it will raise massive alarm bells."
So what should you do when asked about your current, less-than-perfect workplace?
"Speak honestly about your past experiences and challenges but don't criticise. A healthy attitude is far more palatable than playing the blame game," Ms Gately advised.
"Reflect on your challenges and obstacles and how you dealt with them to demonstrate you are part of the solution, not the problem."
She said there was a "fine line" between being pushy and being keen, but that an interview should be followed up by a polite phone call or email thanking the interviewer and asking for insight into the next step in the process.
Ms Gately said interviewees should strive to convey "self-belief balanced with humility" by confidently articulating answers and sharing successes while showing they are still keen to learn and grow.
When it comes to handling nerves on the day, she said it was important to avoid caffeine, give yourself enough time to arrive early, eat well and breathe deeply.
"The only control we have in life is over our thoughts - we can't control the outcome beyond how we choose to present ourselves, so observe when you are entertaining thoughts that undermine your confidence and don't focus on what you're not good at," Ms Gately said.
And if you are thrown a curve-ball in the interview, own it. Asking for clarification on a tricky question shows you are "confident enough to speak up" if you don't know something.
BIGGEST INTERVIEW MISTAKES:
* Being late
* Wearing inappropriate clothing
* Not addressing everyone on the panel equally
* Being rude to receptionists, interviewers or workers