A job interview is one of those horrible but necessary life experiences that is fraught with potential blunders, from a sweaty handshake to not being able to answer a question.
Often it's hard to put a finger on why someone gets the job, with the decision coming down to some subtle combination of skills, likeability and ideas on behalf of the candidate, and gut instinct on behalf of their employer.
That said, there are a few clear no-nos to stay clear of no matter what the position.
With a slew of interview advice hitting our screens in the past week or so, we've rounded up common mistakes to avoid, plus one question Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg says will nail you the job:
The one question that will nail the job
With a business worth millions to his name, Mark Zuckerberg is a man who knows a thing or two about hiring the right people. The Facebook founder revealed the secret to his hiring process at a meeting in Barcelona this week.
The 30-year-old says he always asks himself of a potential employee, "would I work for this person myself?" If the answer is yes, he knows to go ahead and hire them - and it's a litmus test he swears by.
"I will only hire someone to work directly for me if I would work for that person," Zuckerberg said. "It's a pretty good test."
Quite how you should establish yourself as this person is hard to define, but it is most likely found in a duality of competence and likeability.
"Candidates need to have the likeability factor and pass the chemistry and culture tests as well as the skills test to be hired because in the end 'people hire people', and personality will usually trump talent and experience," explains careers advisor Perry Newman.
With that in mind, the following mistakes are likely to damage your chances when it comes to proving your talents, and your personal appeal...
A recent survey by jobs site careersbuilder.co.uk quizzed 500 employers across Britain and identified these three instant deal-breakers which would ruin a candidate's chances at interview stage:
1. Catching a candidate lying
2. A candidate answering a call or returning a text mid-interview
3. A candidate who appears "arrogant or entitled"
The first two steps are obvious enough and easy to avoid, although you should be careful not to exaggerate your skills at CV stage, as that throwaway line on "fluent French speaking" when you can actually only order a coffee may easily be called up during interview.
The third factor really means treading a fine line between selling yourself without appearing obnoxious. More on that here.
Ten body language mistakes to avoid
The same questionnaire referenced above also found ten body language bugbears that employers listed as turn-offs in potential candidates:
1. Failing to make eye contact
2. Failing to smile
3. Playing with something on the table
4. Fidgeting too much in their seat
5. Crossing their arms over their chest
6. Having bad posture
7. Having a limp handshake
8. Playing with their hair or touching their face
9. Having a handshake that's too strong
10. Making too many hand gestures
Clearly, this is quite a specific list and some seem to contradict one another (the strength of a hand shake is a fine balance, apparently). See here for more tips on perfecting your body language during interviews.
Ten general mistakes to avoid
The following list of more general interview faux pas has just been released by recruitment firm Front of House. It's interesting to see how certain common themes start to emerge, when compared to the other surveys quoted above. For example, answering the phone, a limp handshake and unusual comments or rude behaviour are listed time and again. Subtler things to avoid include referencing your past work experience in a negative way and sitting with your bag on your lap:
1. A limp handshake
"A weak handshake is one of the most common interview issues, with many candidates giving off the impression that they’re fragile and unconfident based on their handshake."
2. Chewing gum
"A surprising number of job applicants chew gum during their interviews, including many experienced professionals, lowering their chances of being accepted for their dream job."
3. Ignoring the dress code
"Flat shoes, extremely tall heels, false eyelashes and unusual attire send the wrong impression during job interviews."
4. Work history issues
"Employers are understanding of work history gaps, particularly with the financial crisis fresh in people’s minds. However, some jobseekers make comments about their work history that make them seem like less desirable employees."
5. Poor presentation
"A surprisingly large number of job applicants send a bad impression to their interviewers by making mistakes like sitting with their bags on their laps."
6. CV spelling mistakes
"Nothing ruins a professional CV like a spelling error."
7. Answering the phone
"Letting your phone ring in an interview - particularly if you stop to answer it - is one of the most serious interview mistakes."
8. Poor body language
"Posture and body language have a huge impact on the way interviewers view your skills, confidence and competence."
9. Unusual comments
"Unusual, unnecessary comments - such as comments about a reception area being very busy or quiet - can change an interviewer’s perception of you."
10. Rude behaviour
"Along with any of the problems listed above, a bad attitude is often all it takes to change a possible 'yes' into a definite 'no.'"
Questions NOT to ask at the end
And to finish off, here's a handy video from potential employers on the questions not to ask at the end of an interview:
Photos: Getty Images