NEW YORK (MainStreet) -- There is apparently no shortage of ways that you can sabotage a job interview.
Stu Coleman, a senior managing director at the Boston-based recruiting firm Winter Wyman, says the way you make an entrance into a job interview can lead you to lose a job offer - even before you sit down. "I believe in getting jacked up for an interview," Coleman notes. "But, walking in with a sweaty iced coffee, steamy hot coffee, energy drink or anything with foam on it is just disrespectful."
To avoid failing the interview before it starts, don't bring anything into the interview at all in a bottle or cup, he says. "The company will probably offer you some water, and that's O.K. to accept," he said. "But, a word of advice, don't take their coffee. This is not your living room or the corner café; it's an interview."
Another potential faux pas -- emphasizing your personal fashion style over a reasonable outfit at a job interview. "Play it safe, and err on the conservative side," Coleman adds. "While creative industries may be more open to a fashion statement, I've seen first-hand both men and women lose interviews at investment firms, because they decided to wear a bow tie with their suit that day."
Checking your cell phone during an interview is another burgeoning, and job killing, interview no-no. "Nothing says 'I would rather be somewhere else' more than casually glancing at your cell phone in the middle of a conversation with someone," says Matthew Randall, executive director of the Center for Professional Excellence at York College of Pennsylvania. "Yes, many of us check our phones so many times during the day that it becomes habitual and we start to do it subconsciously. But instead of opening yourself up to the possibility of this interview killer, leave your cell phone in the car. This will eliminate a potential distraction and allow you to give your full attention to the interviewer."
Another common way to up-end a job interview - even one that's been going great - is to fumble the inevitable, end-of-the-interview questions to ask a hiring manager.
"If your interviewer asks if you have any questions, and your questions show more interest in what the company can do for you, than what you can do for the company, you're in trouble," says Barry Maher, a business consultant, author and speaker. Instead, plan ahead and ask questions your competition won't, and watch that help you land the job. "One applicant I know went far beyond checking out the company's website and online articles about the company and actually called a number of employees who held the type of position she was applying for as well as several of their managers," Maher says. "Consequently, she was able to show her understanding of the specific issues these employees faced and the ways the company wanted to deal with those issues."
Having the interview seem too formal can be a sabotage effort, too.
Sarah Gershman, a speech coach at Green Room Speakers who helps job seekers prepare for interviews, says that's an all-too common problem. "If it feels too much like an 'interview,' you've got to turn things around," Gershman advises. "The best interviews feel like compelling conversations. If it starts to feel to scripted and formal, you are probably not making a real connection with the interviewer."
If there was one word the experts used in correcting the above toxic job interview situations, it's "preparation." So take the time to do your homework, study up on your potential company and interviewer, and be on time and ready to engage the person on the other side of the desk.
Do those things, and the key word walking away from the interview won't be "sabotage" -- it will be "success."