“Where do you want to be in five years?” Sure, that’s a common question you hear in interviews all of the time. And, of course, this one: “What do you consider to be your strengths and oppositely, your weaknesses?” OK, so that’s a sure bet.

But, what are the things that can derail your interview chances faster than the rise of gold prices? Well, here are a few that may prove to be ones to avoid. I’m not saying I have all the right ones, just the ones I think stand out.

1. Mispronouncing the name of the company or the person doing the interview. I hear this all the time from potential employees during the interview process. Really? You cannot figure out how to say the company’s name, which at our firm is the owner’s name.

2. Answering the Question of, “Why do you want to be in public relations?” with the following response: “Gee, I don’t know, I guess I like to work with people.” Ok, so become a greeter at Wal-Mart if that’s what you desire. Public relations involves people, but it isn’t an ice cream social.

3. Having done no research on the company, you don’t realize they just had a major re-organization or announcement. Do your homework. Learn about the company, non-profit or government agency. Research and figure out what makes them tick and the latest major news come forth from the entity.

4. Using slang. I recently counted the number of “Likes” in a presentation by an intern to a client. 42 “Likes” in 10 minutes. Wow. Like, that is, like crazy.

5. Not asking “smart questions” of the interviewer. Trust me on this one. Potential employers like to be challenged with great questions. It will impress. If you notice a major shift in the company’s online presence, ask why? That will certainly get their attention.

You only get a small snippet of time to impress potential employers and wow them with your smarts, eagerness and flexibility. Remember that straight talk, honesty and directness win a lot of favors with those who hear reams of BS on a daily basis. Let’s call it refreshing, like, OK?

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